Ian Chang: Warped Rhythms & Abstract Beats

Learn how to play warped and off-kilter rhythms, and how you can use them to craft more compelling, head-turning beats.

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It's easier than ever to make a beat these days — but how about one that surprises listeners, turns heads, and serves the music in just the right way? That's Ian Chang's specialty: writing and playing highly distinct drum parts and beats that push and pull the song in interesting and emotive ways. He's done it for his bands Son Lux and Landlady, for artists like Moses Sumney, CHVRCHES, and Matthew Dear, and in his own solo electronic music — and it's one reason he's one of the most sought-after drummers on the scene today. 

So, how does Ian do it?

In his course, Ian explores the unique style of genre-defying playing and composing he's adopted over years of experimentation behind a drum kit. He'll guide you to improve your internal clock and explore polyrhythms, to write off-kilter drum parts and learn how to play them, and to expand your sonic palette. He'll load you up with exercises that will challenge and push you, and break down a few of his most intriguring rhythmic treatments.

Whether you're a drummer looking to improve your skills or a producer wanting to make more interesting beats, this course is all about upping your rhythmic game to unlock and harness the emotional power of rhythms and beats. Ready to get started?

Ian Chang

Drummer, producer, beat maker

Ian Chang is a Hong Kong-born, U.S.-raised journeyman drummer/producer/composer. He makes forward-looking experimental electronic music using technology that allows him to control samples directly from his drum kit. He’s a full-time member of Academy Award® and BAFTA-nominated band Son Lux, and has contributed live drums and recorded tracks to a wide range of artists, including Matthew Dear, Moses Sumney, Landlady, Body Language, Chvrches, Rubblebucket, Woodkid and Kazu Makino.

From age nine, Chang studied classical percussion and piano at Hong Kong's Academy for Performing Arts. In 2011, he was awarded a degree in jazz drumming by NYU. By 2017, he was playing drums-only live sets inspired by Sunhouse's Sensory Percussion technology, in turn leading to the release of his debut EP, Spiritual Leader. 2020 saw indie mainstay City Slang Records issue Belonging, a full-length realization of Chang's vision, which incorporated vocals from Kiah Victoria, Kazu Makino, and Hanna Benn.

Ian's online course, Ian Chang: Warped Rhythms & Abstract Beats, is available now exclusively on Soundfly.

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Watch the Trailer Video

How do you take something familiar and make it unique? For Ian, it's about constantly experimenting to find the right balance of broken and stable. Watch how he brings unique and emotionally-resonant music to life with his drumming.

Make More Compelling Beats

Learn how Ian Chang takes simple ideas and transforms them into interesting, warped, and emotionally-powerful beats & rhythms.

Enliven Your Improvising Practice

Learn how to improvise in a way that ups your skills and helps you write better beats.

Activate & Develop Your Rhythmic Feel

Learn to open up and complicate your relationship with rhythm, time, and pulse.

Write Spacious, Off-Kilter Beats

Use microdisplacements, odd grids, flair, and more to obscure the beat.

Expand Your Sonic Palette

Learn how Ian uses touch, function, and sensory percussion to expand the sonic landscape of the drum kit.


Course Outline

  1. Preview
    Section 1


  2. Section 2


  3. Section 3

    Expansive Practice

  4. Section 4

    Internalizing Rhythm

  5. Section 5

    Creating Off-Kilter Beats

  6. Section 6

    Expanding Sound

  7. Section 7



Who is this course for?

This course is primarily for drummers, but it may also be useful for anyone interested in deepening their relationship with rhythm and learning how to make more interesting beats, such as producers or other instrumentalists. 

This course is part one of a two-part series. The second will focus more on production.  

What will I learn in this course?

You'll learn topics such as: 

  • The importance of improvising as a core creative process and how to practice improvising, 
  • How to take any technique and generate dozens of practice activities for it, 
  • Different ways to obscure the beat while staying locked in, 
  • How to develop a deeper internal sense of rhythm and time, 
  • How to write more off-kilter and interesting beats
  • How to use microdisplacements and Dilla swing to make more powerful beats, 
  • Ways to expand the sonic palette of your kit or beats, 
  • How Ian uses sensory percussion in his productions. 

And much more. 

Are there any pre-reqs?

You'll get the most from this course if you have a drum kit, but you can also do it as a producer using the DAW. This course requires a basic knowledge of rhythms and note values, like quarter notes and eighth notes. 

How long does this course take?

This course was designed for you to go through at your own pace. If you wanted to do all the content linearly from start to finish, you could probably finish it in a few sittings. 

You're also welcome to just skip around to the lessons and sections most relevant to you, your music, and your career.

Is there a specific start date?

You can start the course anytime.

How many lessons are there?

This course includes 45 lessons, including videos, graphics, text, activities, creative prompts, and much more. 

What do I get if I enroll as a subscriber?

As a subscriber, you'll get unlimited access to all courses on, including this and all our other premium courses, to go through at your own pace. This includes all the videos, tutorials, demos, quizzes, activities, downloads, and other materials within our full suite of courses.

You're also entitled to a 25% discount on our custom mentorship program, you will be invited to join our exclusive community Discord group, you'll be able join subscriber-only Study Groups, artist Q&As and workshops, annual contests and giveaways, and you'll have access to a growing list of exclusive discount perks courtesy of our partner brands. Cancel anytime.

You can find out more about subscribing here.

What is your refund policy?

Our mission is to support musicians, not to rip anyone off. If you realize after subscribing that it's not what you wanted, email us as soon as you can with your reason for cancelling. Our policy is to issue refunds within two weeks of a purchase, for either a monthly or annual subscription, if the courses didn't meet your expectations.

Note that we cannot offer refunds on monthly subscription payments beyond a single month of payment because of the residuals we pay out to our instructors and artists.