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Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
techristian #3034492 03/22/20 01:07 AM
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HA HA, Beavis, you said "NEVER PLAY A ROLL WHEN A VOCALIST IS SINGING and don't fight with another lead instrument." That should almost be in every band's charter. When did anyone truly fail by pulling back and playing two notes instead of seven? Not as an absolute, but also not a bad starting point.

I don't try to kid myself into thinking I'm a drummer trapped in a keyboardist's brain, but I do a lot of finger drumming. I use an XKey and the short throw makes it surprisingly workable. I build some things completely by hand, using two or three tracks to fit it all in if needed, hooray for DAWs. I have a near-unholy mass of arps & loops that came with various pieces of hardware & software, as well as a colorful collection of free WAV sets from many years of casual surfing. Some of them naturally become part of the bones of things, since they're a collaboration between you and the designer. I like to humanize anything semi-auomated with a hand-played layer or two. I also truck in a fair amount of strangeness & tympani-bending, so "realistic-sounding" isn't my first priority. cool


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Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
dboomer #3034497 03/22/20 01:44 AM
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Originally Posted by dboomer
Funny, as I’m just the opposite. A well played part with feeling trumps tone every time unless that tone is so bad as to be objectionable. Oh, well smile
Actually I said " I think appropriateness of the part being played is probably the more important of the two" so we're on the same page. But I don't dismiss the sound, because to me, what makes a drum part come alive is the dynamics, the pedal working the hi-hat, the way the sound of a drum changes when you hit it in different places...

A Ginger Baker drum part played on pads and feeding sampled drums will still sound like a Ginger Baker drum part, but it won't sound like Ginger Baker, if you catch my drift.

Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Anderton #3034555 03/22/20 03:34 PM
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I think appropriateness is far more important than tone.

Think outside of the drum world for a minute. What is the perfect guitar tone? Hendrix? Page? Slash? Beck? Clapton? Benson? Pass? Burrell? Django? Gale? Remler? Orianthi? or someone else?

The two most popular jazz saxophonists of the 20th century were Stan Getz and John Coltrane. They both played tenor sax, but if you played a cut from each to the average non-musician, they wouldn't think they were playing the same instrument.

How about bad tone singers? Dr. John, Blossom Dearie, John Lennon, Stevie Nicks and others.

Why are all these people at the top of their genres in popularity? Tone? Nope. Expression. YEP! All the nuances that turn empty notes into expressive music are the single most important thing in music. Everything else combined is minuscule in comparison, and that includes tone.

So if you don't have the real cymbal or snare drum sound, and you hit them at the right timing and with the right dymamics and play the right fills at the right time, other musician's might notice that there wasn't a variety of tones like there should be, but the general audience will not have a clue. Because they listen to expression, not tone. Add tone nuances only after you have the expressiveness down, it's the sprinkles on the icing in the cake.

You can play for yourself, you can play for other musicians or you can play for the general public. If you are good enough at it, you will get the audience you asked for.

So to get back on topic. Work on your drum chops. Study the expression and dynamics of great drummers like Hal Blaine, Bernard Purdy, Ginger Baker, or a host of others. What makes them work? Which beats are played early, which ones late? Which ones are stressed and which suppressed.

Drums are not instant-play any more than guitar, bass, or saxophone. It takes learning how to play them and a lot of practice to get it right. There are no short-cuts.

You can use drum loops, but are they exactly right for the song? Or are they some generic one-size-fits-many beats? Do they have the exact groove you need? Do they use the right sounds? Would that chrome snare sound better if it was a wood one? Does the bass drum ring too much or is it to dead for your song? And what fun is it to have others play your parts for you? You may as well just listen to the radio or stream.

Learn to play and you don't have to make compromises.

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Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Notes_Norton #3034557 03/22/20 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
I think appropriateness is far more important than tone.

Think outside of the drum world for a minute. What is the perfect guitar tone? Hendrix? Page? Slash? Beck? Clapton? Benson? Pass? Burrell? Django? Gale? Remler? Orianthi? or someone else?

The two most popular jazz saxophonists of the 20th century were Stan Getz and John Coltrane. They both played tenor sax, but if you played a cut from each to the average non-musician, they wouldn't think they were playing the same instrument.

How about bad tone singers? Dr. John, Blossom Dearie, John Lennon, Stevie Nicks and others.

Why are all these people at the top of their genres in popularity? Tone? Nope. Expression. YEP! All the nuances that turn empty notes into expressive music are the single most important thing in music. Everything else combined is minuscule in comparison, and that includes tone.

So if you don't have the real cymbal or snare drum sound, and you hit them at the right timing and with the right dymamics and play the right fills at the right time, other musician's might notice that there wasn't a variety of tones like there should be, but the general audience will not have a clue. Because they listen to expression, not tone. Add tone nuances only after you have the expressiveness down, it's the sprinkles on the icing in the cake.

You can play for yourself, you can play for other musicians or you can play for the general public. If you are good enough at it, you will get the audience you asked for.

So to get back on topic. Work on your drum chops. Study the expression and dynamics of great drummers like Hal Blaine, Bernard Purdy, Ginger Baker, or a host of others. What makes them work? Which beats are played early, which ones late? Which ones are stressed and which suppressed.

Drums are not instant-play any more than guitar, bass, or saxophone. It takes learning how to play them and a lot of practice to get it right. There are no short-cuts.

You can use drum loops, but are they exactly right for the song? Or are they some generic one-size-fits-many beats? Do they have the exact groove you need? Do they use the right sounds? Would that chrome snare sound better if it was a wood one? Does the bass drum ring too much or is it to dead for your song? And what fun is it to have others play your parts for you? You may as well just listen to the radio or stream.

Learn to play and you don't have to make compromises.

Insights and incites by Notes

This is a great post, kudos!!! Cheers, Kuru


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Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Notes_Norton #3034578 03/22/20 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
You can use drum loops, but are they exactly right for the song? Or are they some generic one-size-fits-many beats? Do they have the exact groove you need? Do they use the right sounds? Would that chrome snare sound better if it was a wood one? Does the bass drum ring too much or is it to dead for your song?

Well, now you're making my point that tone is also an important factor. I didn't say more important than the part, in fact I said the opposite, but it DOES matter. Hendrix would still sound like Hendrix the musician if he played on a nylon-string guitar, but he wouldn't sound like Hendrix the rock guitarist.

Quote
And what fun is it to have others play your parts for you? You may as well just listen to the radio or stream.

Learn to play and you don't have to make compromises.

I think Beethoven enjoyed having others play his parts for him smile Remember, I spent quite a few years as a studio musician, and I've hired studio musicians as well, so I'm coming from that perspective. I think it's a hell of a lot of fun to have others play your parts for you if they're effing awesome players, and what they play contributes to your music. I could try to learn to play acoustic drums until the day I die, and I promise you, I would NEVER be as good as Chris McHugh. When I use his loops, I'm basically hiring an incredible studio musician whose drumming style fits my music like a glove.

That said, I've played electronic drums on many of my songs, which is the source of the articles I've written over the years about what I've learned to make them sound more expressive. But, I don't play acoustic drums, I don't have acoustic drums, and my studio can't accommodate acoustic drums. Besides, having others play your parts can be a lot of fun if you're an arranger, which I am. I put a lot of effort into cutting, splicing, and moving those loops around. I cut parts from some loops and plop them in the middle of others. I'll take one drum hit and move it slightly. I really do think the results speak for themselves. For the music where I use acoustic drum loops, even drummers don't realize I'm using loops. However, they do wonder how I learned to play drums so well smile

Would I rather have a big studio, a never-ending mic locker, and great acoustics, where I could hire Chris for a week and record his playing? Sure. But frankly, I'm not sure the end result would be much different than what I have now. After all, it's still Chris, it was recorded in a studio with great acoustics and a never-ending mic locker, and his parts are phenomenal. Best of all possible worlds: Great player, great sounds...this is why people hire studio musicians.

It's also a misconception to think that all people who use loops just paste in 4 bars and hit the duplicate button. Sure, some do. But that's like seeing a singer who uses auto-tune, and assuming that all singers use auto-tune.

Hmmmm...now that I think about it, given that I live in Nashville, maybe that's not the best example smile

Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Anderton #3034595 03/22/20 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
[quote=Notes_Norton]You can use drum loops, but are they exactly right for the song? Or are they some generic one-size-fits-many beats? Do they have the exact groove you need? Do they use the right sounds? Would that chrome snare sound better if it was a wood one? Does the bass drum ring too much or is it to dead for your song?

Well, now you're making my point that tone is also an important factor. I didn't say more important than the part, in fact I said the opposite, but it DOES matter. Hendrix would still sound like Hendrix the musician if he played on a nylon-string guitar, but he wouldn't sound like Hendrix the rock guitarist.

Which then begs the question ... would it matter?

Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
dboomer #3034608 03/22/20 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by dboomer
Originally Posted by Anderton
[quote=Notes_Norton]You can use drum loops, but are they exactly right for the song? Or are they some generic one-size-fits-many beats? Do they have the exact groove you need? Do they use the right sounds? Would that chrome snare sound better if it was a wood one? Does the bass drum ring too much or is it to dead for your song?

Well, now you're making my point that tone is also an important factor. I didn't say more important than the part, in fact I said the opposite, but it DOES matter. Hendrix would still sound like Hendrix the musician if he played on a nylon-string guitar, but he wouldn't sound like Hendrix the rock guitarist.

Which then begs the question ... would it matter?

Only if we knew of both possibilities and didn't care for one of them but liked the other. Otherwise, no.

This thread has made me realize how I have barely scraped the surface of my best sounding "drummer in a box" - NI Studio Drummer.
I always seem to find a loop that will work with a song idea but that's been as far as I've taken it. There are always lots of variations on the loop in question plus fills. I never break those out.
I'm in progress on a new project, time to start using them.
Plus there is a pitch control, it does sound good if you can get the drums to compliment the rest of the arrangement's pitch center.

The tones are certainly very good, 3 variations (number of voices) of 3 drum sets so lots of variety.

The mixer allows using the kick part from one song and the snare from another, etc. by blending multiple instances.
Never messed with that either.

These are not covers so there is more leeway there.

I've never been one to worry about covers sounding just like the record anyway.

In my experience it truly does not matter to the audience. Maybe 4 times in 40 years of playing live I've had somebody come up to me on break and point out that I didn't play the "correct" part.
One time it was a singer I was working with, we were playing Top 40 Country. I asked him which of the 5 different guitar parts he wanted me to play and he stared at me in disbelief.
Well, there could have been 6, it was some radio hit with a big sound and all sorts of stuff going on. We were 4 players and 2 singers, can't be done!!!!


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Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
dboomer #3034613 03/22/20 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by dboomer
Originally Posted by Anderton
Well, now you're making my point that tone is also an important factor. I didn't say more important than the part, in fact I said the opposite, but it DOES matter. Hendrix would still ound like Hendrix the musician if he played on a nylon-string guitar, but he wouldn't sound like Hendrix the rock guitarist.

Which then begs the question ... would it matter?

I'm with KuruPrionz on this one "Only if we knew of both possibilities and didn't care for one of them but liked the other. Otherwise, no."

For example, there are "unplugged" versions of songs that sound equal to, or sometimes even better than, the electric versions. But if I want to hear "Foxy Lady," I just don't think it would be the same on a ukulele...well, unless Weird Al was doing it. Then it might sound cool.

Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Anderton #3034698 03/23/20 03:23 PM
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We musicians and others in the music profession care more about tone than the general public does. And I'm not saying that's wrong, nothing could be farther from the truth. We should care about tone. With each new sax I get I spend countless hours facing the wall so I can hear the reflected sound and changing the shape of my mouth, the shape of my throat, the embouchure, and the tension of all the muscles involved to explore the varieties of tone I can get out of the horn so I can use them as I need.

BTW, if Hendrix played a Les Paul with Humbuckers instead of a Strat with single coils it wouldn't have made a bit of difference to the public. It wouldn't have made a bit of difference to me either, even though I prefer single coils (I like P90s a lot).

Tone is important, but as long as it's in the ball-park for the genre, technique and artistic interpretation is hundreds of times more important to me - YMMV

Of course, there is more than one right way to make good music.

Notes


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Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Anderton #3034704 03/23/20 03:45 PM
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But there's one more aspect to tone. Remember, the point of this thread was how to create realistic-sounding drum parts, not what element contributes more to realism. One of the biggest cues to me that a drum part is electronic-trying-to-be-acoustic is the sound of the drums, particularly the hi-hat. If the electronic hi-hat plays a great part, well, that's wonderful. However, that hi-hat is just not going to sound like Tony Williams working it during "In a Silent Way." Does that detract from the musical impact? That's up to you, maybe, probably not. The question I'm asking relates to whether that electronic hi-hat part trying to sound like Tony Williams sounds realistic? I doubt that would be the case, so I was hoping this thread would shed more light on how to close that gap.

Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Anderton #3034818 03/24/20 01:42 PM
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Better synths help. But IMHO synths are different beasts. They do things their acoustic counterparts cannot do, and the acoustic instruments can do things the synths cannot do.

Charlie Parker is quoted as saying, "You don't play the sax, you let the sax play you."

I think that goes for any instrument, acoustic, electric, or electronic. Find out what the strengths and limitations of your synth patch. Use the pros to make as expressive music as you can, and avoid the cons. Or as Johnny Mercer penned:

You've got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-i-nate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mr. In-Between


Don't play the synth patch, let the synth patch play you.

Notes


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Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Anderton #3034867 03/24/20 06:07 PM
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There is nothing like the feel of a real drummer. Even a simple overhead mic and a kick mic will generate tons of feel for less effort than many would suppose. There are tons of talented drummers who are itching to contribute. Understandably, sometimes we have to roll your own however ...

There has not been a better time to do the drumming ourselves, as so many genres are evolving toward sonic support, synthesis and processing. But I believe drummers offer a lot more than feel ...

The top three for me are dynamics, phrasing, and orchestration. A drummer can carry a band from the whisper to roar as no other instrument can. A drummer also signals the beginnings and endings of musical statements. While a Carter Beauford fill sounds different from a Bill Bruford fill (does Bill Bruford actually fill?) they both shape what a band says. Lastly, good drummers orchestrate, not just balancing and complementing timbres, but also foreshadowing, echoing and developing musical ideas. I guess I am struggling to suggest that to be good at realism we need to be good at the music also. YMMV of course. smile thu

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Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Anderton #3034871 03/24/20 06:17 PM
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Absolutely! And let's not forget the open channel of real-time communication between a good drummer and bassist (as well as the rest of the band). I think one of the most important aspects of a realistic drum part is tempo changes that let the music breathe. You can add this after the fact in DAWs, but that's a workaround. The drummer is the one who does the tempo changes, and provides the "master clock" that everyone else follows - and it's a master clock and moves and breathes, not flat-lines to a tempo and stays there.

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Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Anderton #3035320 03/27/20 08:42 AM
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I used to programm drums since the Atari ST. Basically I play everything with the keyboard trying to give the best feel then I do dynamics retouches and complex fills by hand inside the daw. The more articulations you have, the better, especially on certain genres. The problem I'm facing now is trying to get that organic sound you hear on, say, Kravitz's albums... even if they are very simple I really cannot get 'that' sound, no matter what. It's way easier for me to fake complex hard rock drums than those simple 70's drums. For the perfectionists, I suggest you to try MODO drums by ik multimedia, you have a new way to control hit-hat and snare variations, it's a game changer wink

Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Anderton #3035324 03/27/20 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
Another option for more realistic sounds is to use real cymbals. Sampled cymbals just don't sound as rich as "the real thing," and it's probably not too difficult to the cymbal on the beat, where needed. If you're really really bad at timing, then record cymbal hits on their own tracks, shift them to the correct timing, and if you like, bounce into a stereo track.

Futureman, the drummer for Bela Fleck, does really good work triggering samples on stage on his home-made Drumitar. But then there were some concerts where he brought some cymbals to complement his electronic rig. Left hand on his drumitar for kick/snare/toms. Right hand laying waste to the cymbals, like he had been deprived all his life. A ringing cymbal sounds different when you hit it again and there are a million ways to hit it. For those of us who had heard this band for many years, the wash of sound was stunning.

Re: How Can Non-Drummers Get Realistic-Sounding Drum Parts?
Tusker #3035361 03/27/20 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Tusker
Futureman, the drummer for Bela Fleck, does really good work triggering samples on stage on his home-made Drumitar. But then there were some concerts where he brought some cymbals to complement his electronic rig. Left hand on his drumitar for kick/snare/toms. Right hand laying waste to the cymbals, like he had been deprived all his life. A ringing cymbal sounds different when you hit it again and there are a million ways to hit it. For those of us who had heard this band for many years, the wash of sound was stunning.

Cool, thanks for chiming in. The other thing about cymbals is there are also a million ways to mic them!

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