How to Add Basic FX to Finger-Drumming Performances

Just getting started with finger-drumming and want to begin adding some basic effects to your set? Today’s tutorial will help you do so while staying in time, and will allow you to make simple patterns more interesting and effective in a club setting.

We’re going to focus on three effects—delay, reverb, and filter 92 LFO—and although we’re using Traktor in this tutorial, two of those effects are pretty standard and should be available in other DJ software as well.

WHAT DO I NEED?

  • DJ software with built in FX (reverb and delay should be available in most)
  • HotCues
  • A pad controller, or a computer keyboard mapped to hotcues
  • Knobs

WHY ADD FX TO YOUR FINGER-DRUMMING PERFORMANCE?

If you’re just learning to finger-drum or you’ve been trying it for a while but it just seems to be lacking something, these FX are a great way to make your routines more interesting and dynamic when used tastefully. Each effect can be used in a variety of situations. Let’s look at their benefits and uses in more detail:

Delay: One of the biggest challenges with finger-drumming is timing, especially without quantize. If your timing isn’t tight, the performance can sound sloppy and it can lose the groove. The solution for most people would be a metronome. This may be practical at home, but not in a loud venue. Delay is perfect for people who are just learning to finger-drum or who are having trouble with their timing. You can adjust the delay rate to your desired value, which will give you an effect trail that you can use to keep yourself in time.
Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 8.22.28 PM

Reverb: The right amount of reverb can be used to give your finger-drumming “space.” Without reverb, your cue points can end abruptly. An advanced finger-drummer like Jeremy Ellis can easily fill this empty space with subtle patterns and fills. For beginners, reverb can help generate space for simple patterns and short hits. It can also help glue your performance together with other songs.

reverb

Filter 92 LFO: This effect is great and can be used to build up or break down your performance. The LFO will sweep the filter up and down, so it’s an easy way to add variation to your finger-drumming.
lfo

BONUS ROUND!

The Super Combo Dimension Effect: What would happen if these three effects routed themselves together and made sweet love? Would the world accept such a thing? The Super Combo Dimension Effect can be used to conclude a solo finger-drumming performance. The Filter 92 LFO sweeps to and fro, the delay fades into the night, and then the reverb carries them off into deep space. If you crank the reverb, it can take you to Deep Space Nine. You’ve been warned.

combo

BACK TO THE LAB

By no means are these the only FX you should ever use. These are meant to be a quick example to get your wheels turning. So try out the other FX in your DJ software and see if they can be used to add some spice to your performance.

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