Putting it All Together: Drums and Instruments
I cannot give you a direct answer to your question, I can however show you my own process/workflow.
At this moment in my career, I don’t really hit pads for my drum hits. I tend to click them in FL Studio’s sequencer. I find this the easiest route to create, listen, then fine-tune my loop.
So this is my approach:
Adding Drums to an Instrument:
If I have a melody already created with instruments, I will build my drum loops separate.
So in other words, I’ll build my drum loop as if those instruments do not exist. I’ll work on the drum loop until I feel the drum loop by itself has a nice rhythm.
I will then add this drum loop into the playlist with the instrument. I will play both the instrument and drum loop together to see if they flow. (This is the point where I listen for spots I like, and spots I don’t like.)
I will then remove and tweak until I find what I like.
This is my approach for almost all rhythmic loops in general, whether it be a percussion loop, hi-hat loop, or drum loop.
This may not work for you, but thought I’d share if you’re struggling to combine all these elements together.
Safe Spots in Drum Loops:
Another tip I can share with you is safe spots. These are spots which I have found over my years of producing which allow me to easily program drum loops. They are spots which will always keep the rhythm of your track. If a certain spot does not suite the song, just remove that note and add it to another safe spot, then adjust to taste.
Want more info on safe spots? Check out Foundational Drum Loop Basics.
Adding Instruments to Drum Loops:
Now when adding instruments to a already created drum loop, I actually listen to my drum loop while playing my keys over top of that loop.
This is so I can find the right melody for the groove.
And also if I’m trying to add other instruments over top of my base instrument, I will again listen to the whole song while playing my keys over top.
Once again, so I create the right melody to complement what’s going on.
Hopefully that helps somewhat!