3 finger drumming practices we learned from Melodics

Combining electronic music and performance, finger drumming is a medium for musical expression that has grown increasingly popular over recent years.

One app in particular, Melodics, has led the charge on teaching finger drumming by leveraging technology to provide instant feedback, flexible controller compatibility, and gamification of progress and achievements. Melodics has recently teamed up with Splice to provide you with a free course with a collection of top-notch lessons—we gave them a go and walked away with three key takeaways regarding the art of finger drumming.

A performance of “Superstition,” one of the songs in the Melodics app

1. Isolate each component

Although some finger drumming performances may look complex and meticulously coordinated, they can all be broken down into several basic rhythms. Most of these can be derived from popular syncopated patterns such as the clave and tresillo. When you’re first practicing and slowly layering isolated parts, it’s beneficial to practice straight quarter notes, eighth notes, and sixteenth notes at various speeds.

In the Melodics course, each beat would be broken down to its simplest components, and the app would make sure you could perform these in order to progress to the final beat. In order to excel in any performing art, it’s crucial to build strong fundamentals.

2. Practice with a metronome

This one may sound obvious to some, but it’s often overlooked or resisted by budding performers: practicing with a metronome is essential for developing good technique and a consistent sense of rhythm.

Aside from providing these benefits, metronomes also help reduce the natural tendency to rush or drag the tempo, and they’re great practice for recording to a click track when it comes time to track your performance. Above all, being able to stay ‘in the pocket’ for extended periods of time is crucial for being a good drummer, whether you’re using sticks or your fingertips.

The instant feedback system was undoubtedly one of the strongest features of the Melodics app. It displays properly-timed notes in green, early notes in orange, and missed notes in red. By using longer phrases (sometimes 32 or even 64 measures), the app tested if you were able to consistently time your notes over longer periods of time.

3. Utilize all of your fingers

A lot of people start finger drumming with their index fingers, as this seems natural and most similar to the feeling of holding drumsticks. However, more complex rhythms begin to necessitate the use of your thumb and your middle, ring, and pinky fingers.

While trying to use all of these fingers at once would be intimidating for most learners, the Melodics lessons were quite effective at gradually introducing the different roles for each finger; the thumb would generally play the primary drums like kicks and snares, while the index finger would reach up to play the melodic loops and other harmonic samples like guitar and piano chords.

Whether or not you’re using the app, associating different fingers with different roles feels like an effective approach to learning increasingly complex beats. In the long run, being able to use all of your fingers will unlock more possibilities as you develop your chops.

Do you have any go-to finger drumming techniques? Let us know in the comments below.

Level up your finger drumming with Melodics, and use the promo code SPLICE2MELODICS for two free months of Creator if you’re a new Splice user:

December 14, 2022

Nick Chen Content Marketing @ Splice. Nick Chen is a producer, performer, and educator under the aliases "nickthechen" and "Enix."