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How do you do drums?


Dave Bryce

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So, how do you capture your drums? What do you use for sounds?

 

I use mostly either an Alesis DM Pro, or the Stratus Stereo Session Drums CD for the Kurz.

 

I usually start by playing the drums into the sequencer in realtime from the keyboard. Sometimes I do it in one pass, sometimes I overdub. Occasionally, I use the DM Pro kit pads or an SPD-11; but, by and large, I'm a better keyboard drummer.

 

I tend to try and play the parts in real time. I don't like working in patterns, nor do I use step entry...I just don't think like that.

 

If I don't like what I did on drums, then I get a drummer to come over and play on the pads. Actually, I almost always prefer to get a real actual drummer to play - I like making music with other musicians. Hooray for electronic drum pads - you sit, you play...no muss, no fuss.

 

Sometimes I start with a loop or two (I tend to roll my own loops using DP and assorted sound generating devices), but I almost always put realtime drums down as well.

 

As a rule, I try to avoid quantizing, too...gotta capture the feel...

 

I'd love to hear how other people are doing their drums.

 

dB

:snax:

 

:keys:==> David Bryce Music • Funky Young Monks <==:rawk:

 

Professional Affiliations: Royer LabsMusic Player Network

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I usually use the JV1080/exp board drum kits, or the Planet Phatt kits, or kits that I've put together in SampleCell, depending on what kind of sound I'm shooting for. My keyboard-drum chops are only so-so, and I usually have Input Quantize turned on in Digital Performer, but I do try to nail everything in one pass. If ever I go back and do an overdub, it's usually with Input Quantize turned off, and it's usually to add flams, or ghost notes, or rolls. Then if the material calls for it I may layer a percussion track or breakbeat using Acid or SampleCell (sometimes the beats off the Distorted Reality 1 and 2 CDs really do the trick) just to spice things up a little.

 

If I'm doing techno or electronica, however, I rely on this technique to get those machine gun snare drum fills: I play eighth notes into Digital Performer and use the Scale Time feature to drop them down to 32nd notes. Then I just cut and paste in the piano roll window until the fill is the appropriate length and then draw the volume graph from near zero to maximum. Selectively deleting a couple of the notes here and there adds to the feel, too.

 

I really am a frustrated drummer, though - I used to practice a lot on the Yamaha kit we had in-house before we sold it, and now the bulk of my practice time comes at the mall playing this Konami video game called Percussion Freaks 3 that has a full Yamaha drum pad setup. Awesome game, and since they've positioned it right outside the entrance to the arcade, it never fails to draw a crowd, even with my meager drum skills http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/smile.gif

 

This message has been edited by Vic on 02-12-2001 at 11:16 PM

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This is nice thread !

 

I love to do drum on a percussion controller, perfer the V-Drum set of course. But any other controller such as Trap Cat; Octave Pad II is also welcome. I also like to do drum rolls from a guitar controller(tremelo on 1 string). Does anyone try this before ? It sounds great!

Hooked on Keys...
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I'm mostly a keyboard drummer. Usually a light non-weigthed keyboard works best for me. I usually lay the tracks with either the sounds of my kurzweil pc88mx to get the groove going on the sequencer, then I plug in sounds as needed. Other sources of sounds are the sr-16, the cs6x and the qs6. I usually try to quantize on of the things, to get I good rythm. A lot of times I'll quantize the bass drums (usually 90%), correct the snare, but leave the high hat as recorded. My timing needs much improvement....

 

Drums fills I have a little hard time with it, those a lot of times I'll record in step time and then play around with the velocities till I get the right feel. I'll usually record maybe 4-8 measures, then I can repeat, I feel 8 gives me a reasonable variation.

 

How I do drums depends a lot on the song I'm working on. If it's mostly drums and bass I'll focus a lot on the drums right away. If it's something where the drums are mostly supporting the melody I'll lay out a rough track, work on the other instruments, and clean up the drums towards the end.

 

Rod

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I usually wait until my son comes home from college and let him do it. If I can't wait I send him the project he puts them in and e mails them back to me. I have a Triton and he has my old 01/W. He actully plays all the parts on 1 track- 1 take. The only thing he adds is a 2nd track that imitates the hi hat keeping time. Amazingly, the finished product sounds very much like his actual drumming style. I can play 7 different instruments,but I can't drum to save my butt.

I can't stand using the on board Triton drum patterns. It's lifeless and I can tell every time I hear that kind of thing goin' on. There just ain't no heartbeat to it. I use real drums whenever I can.

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I usually wait until my son comes home from college and let him do it. If I can't wait I send him the project he puts them in and e mails them back to me. I have a Triton and he has my old 01/W. He actully plays all the parts on 1 track- 1 take. The only thing he adds is a 2nd track that imitates the hi hat keeping time. Amazingly, the finished product sounds very much like his actual drumming style. I can play 7 different instruments,but I can't drum to save my butt.

I can't stand using the on board Triton drum patterns. It's lifeless and I can tell every time I hear that kind of thing goin' on. There just ain't no heartbeat to it. I use real drums whenever I can.

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I use loops in acid. Acid is the tool I primarily use to put songs together, these days. However, Acid is really good for bundling together a collections of sounds into loops. So I have loop constructions session/songwriting session/loop construction/songwriting, etc.

 

Used to play drums off the synths and use midi loops (twiddly bits), but I was always missing that vibe.

 

Cheers,

 

Jerry

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Well, this has been my biggest obstacle since getting into the whole music thing. I can add guitar, Bass (via synth), organ (though very basic, still pretty new to piano) and some other things but I CAN'T FIGURE DRUMS OUT!!!! This frustrates the crap outta me. I've tried a drum machine, I just can't think pattern based very well. I can get some basic 4/4 stuff going but doesn't have any life to it. I've tried keyboard drummin, sounds like CRAP. I've tried loops, not bad but never what I hear when I think of drum part for a song etc...... I just can't seem to THINK like a drummer, no matter what interface I try and use. Trying to add drums is gonna be the death of me yet!!!!!!!!!
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AMEN STRATMAN........ I'm leaving that stuff for the experts. I feel I've pretty good timing...... and can definitely lock onto a drummers groove. But trying to program a drum machine is just a pain in the ass!! (There I said it Lee!!!)

 

I put mine on my workplace web classifieds and will also put it on e-bay.....

 

I'm sicken tired of screwin with that little bastard. I've gotten some good tips from some peeps here on these forums.... but I've had it...... I'm gonna just burn a few of our drummers tracks onto a CD to jam along with home.... shoulda been doin this along any...... drum machines ahhh...

Screw them fricken annoying little rat bastards!!

 

Mo

 

This message has been edited by Mo Thumper on 02-14-2001 at 10:13 AM

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Generally, I just whacked the drummer on the back of the head to get him jump started.

 

The one nice thing about a drum machine over a live drummer is that you only have to punch it into a drum machine once...

Setup: Korg Kronos 61, Roland XV-88, Korg Triton-Rack, Motif-Rack, Korg N1r, Alesis QSR, Roland M-GS64 Yamaha KX-88, KX76, Roland Super-JX, E-Mu Longboard 61, Kawai K1II, Kawai K4.
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I use drum machines in a minimal way when recording sequences. Just kick, snare, and hi-hats. What makes my tracks groove is to overdub (when recording) real shaker, tambourine, crash cymbals, bongos, dejembe, and chimes. I use an AT 4033 condenser mic through a Mackie 1402vlz. I plan to keep buying more percussion toys soon. I'd love to have some conga drums but I have tendenitis and they are just too hard on the wrists. I play the bongos with drum sticks for that same reason.

 

Even just adding one or two real parts to a drum machine/sequence can make a track come alive. I highly recommend it.

 

I also love to put drum machine sounds through a compressor or amp simulator. Anything to make them big and punchy.

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For me it depends on the type of song and the songs feel.

Sometimes I key-drum it realtime, sometimes I loop it and do step entry, sometimes I get drunk and just hammer the keys like a mad man!

I do all kinds of stuff.... Inovation before Imitation! (not that tons of others dont use the above methods, I just thought that, so I thought I'd type it...thats kind of my musical idea.

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I use Drumtrax, which are midifiles of actual drummers playing patterns, fills, etc. I just cut and paste (there's a lot to go through), and sometimes quantize a bit to get the feel I am (desperately) looking for. Drums sounds are from the Roland SRX-01 expansion card in my XV-3080, very excellent sounds!

 

-Marshall

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I have finally decided to stop fighting the fact that my son, the drummer, is away at college and that if I'm going to make it happen I am going to have to do it myself and I've come up with a method that is simple, yet still enables me to put feeling in it and, although so far, it has taken me several tries per song and a few punch ins, I am excited about and for the first time in 45 years I'm actually feeling like I might get a handle on playing drums. All you guys are probably going to say...duh....that's how we all do it, but for those who are better at making fun of drummers than actually being one- like me- then here goes: I use the on board drum sounds on my Triton, although I tweak the eq and effects to my liking then I play the first drum track with only the kick drum. I found that if I play the kick part with my right hand and track it with my right foot and just play the snare part on my knee or desk the result is surprisingly authentic.

Then I go to the next track and play the snare, cymbals, hi hat and toms just the same as I would if I were playing a real kit. It is amazing how much better I am at this than trying to coordinate the kick drum into the configuration simultaneously. Then I go back on the next track and put in the hi hat clicking time wherever it's not being used as the primary cymbal.

 

I'm never going to have the jazz, funk and progressive rock chops that my son has so artfully mastered, but I actually think it's going to work for me.

 

One note of confession though: My wife the, jazz/blues singer, and my younger son, the bassist, are not quite as impressed, being spoiled by an excellent real live drummer, but I'm gonna keep working on it. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

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When I first got into music I had no money whatsoever and so went down the avant garde route of drumming ie. if I hit an object and it made an interesting sound I used it ! Orange juice bottles, tambourines with the jangly bits removed,a rolled up tent, I got a great resonant bass drum sound by sticking a mic under my matress and hitting the matress, and I was particularly proud of my set of ACB's (assorted cardboard boxes).

 

During my college days I was heavily into the Roland drum machines such as DR110, TR505 and TR 626 but then - along came the HR16. What a cool drum machine. I could do Stewart Copeland hi hats, Neil Peart snare rolls, flams and all sorts. AND it did tempo changes AND it had a back lit display AND it kicked out and responded to FSK code. Wow ! I love this machine and still use it now. Despite running LA Platinum I find I get much better results programming my patterns on the HR16 and then transfering them into Logic. I use a DM Pro for my sound source because the kits are excellent and I can incorporate my own samples as well, all in one box.

 

As a tip for frustrated programmers, this is a simple way to make what sounds like a complicated pattern - Make up 3, 5, or 7 patterns with simple variations (it doesn't matter how few or how many just provided there is an odd number). Chain them together and let the chain loop. Because music generally works in even measures the patterns will take a long time to get back to their original sequence and so will be constantly changing as the song progresses. It will appear that you have done a lot of programming when, in fact, you haven't. This trick also works if you have a song idea but no arrangement and don't want to spend a lot of time chaining patterns together that might not necessarily end up in that order.

 

cheers,

 

Bassment

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Banging on a keyboard just doesn't work for me. Nor does setting up a trap kit. I often use this little trick to make my drum loops:

 

I drum with my hands on whatever I feel like: my thigh, my desk, whatever.. I'm sure we've all done this before. It's easy to get a comfortable feel. Anyway, I just mic whatever I'm hitting. I run the loop into Recycle to extract the timing, and then use Cubase to lay down drum samples.

 

It's remarkable what you can end up with. You can also use pre-fabbed drum loops and extract the timing from them. It's a little less of yourself in the music, but it's quicker too.

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Originally posted by Murky Bog Demigod:

Banging on a keyboard just doesn't work for me. Nor does setting up a trap kit. I often use this little trick to make my drum loops:

 

I drum with my hands on whatever I feel like: my thigh, my desk, whatever.. I'm sure we've all done this before. It's easy to get a comfortable feel. Anyway, I just mic whatever I'm hitting. I run the loop into Recycle to extract the timing, and then use Cubase to lay down drum samples.

 

It's remarkable what you can end up with. You can also use pre-fabbed drum loops and extract the timing from them. It's a little less of yourself in the music, but it's quicker too.

 

Now THERE'S AN IDEA!! Thanks for the tip. I'm definately going to try this.

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On that note, I often use recordings of myself doing hand drumming on a 5 gallon water bottle..

 

I do resort to keyboard drums sometimes, but I'm not too good at it. One thing I do is space out the sounds so it fits my hand more naturally, in a non pianistic way. I like to use all black keys because otherwise I can't stop thinking I'm playing a keyboard. Sometimes I think about the pattern I want, do some finger drumming, and then map the sounds based on where I'm hitting. Right now my thumbs tend to do snares with my left hand fingers doing kick and the right hand fingers doing cymbals. I absolutely cannot do the Hi hat at the same time as the other parts, though http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/frown.gif

 

On the other hand, the PC88MX has some kits mapped to do specifically pianistic things, i.e. play a major scale, hear a perfect latin pattern. They do this by doubling certain notes or leaving notes blank. It works really well for doing one prefigured pattern over and over.

 

 

My ideal way of doing drums, however, is to use the Electribe ES-1. I've played with it and the ER-1 a lot and I find the 16 steep sequencer so intuitive it scares me. It's the only step sequencer I've ever really liked.. I's just so easy to use and so easy to make anti-cliche patterns that defy the normal idea of a groove yet still have enough punch.

 

But most of the stuff I do nowadays doesn't have any drums.. I'm trying to intensify the groove element without using the drum kit's sounds. Maybe when I get a Handsonic this will all change... http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/wink.gif

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It really depends on the song. I'll often start with a loop created in DP, do the rest of the song, and then program the drums afterward to interact with the other instruments and voices.

 

I try to avoid quantize, but not always successfully. I have found that leaving some slop, either by lessening the strength and sensitivity of the quantize, or leaving certain elements (hi-hat, kick, etc.) unquantized, can greatly enhance the humanity of a track.

 

Tempo changes are less definite. I'll often record a track wild with just piano and vocal, to analyze the natural speed up/slow down points. I'll then program them into my real track prior to recording final vox, but this is very hit and miss. In the end, one way or another, I do whatever works for that song!

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I program drums it what usually amounts to a 3 step process.

The first part comes at the beginning stages of the song. I just tap the kick - snare and sometimes hat parts on the keyboard. I straight quantize this track so I can program the rest of the song.

 

Later, as the song has come together as far as arrangement..I take time out and go through the drum track a few times. Basically, I just hit play until I decide a drummer would add something to the mix (you know, the end of 4 bar fill and such). I usually have to play the fills in a couple times to get them right. Again, I straight quantize all the fills. At this point, I usually end up with an overly busy drum track, which leads me to step three...

 

Finally, I go back through the track and think to myself

"This is a real drummer in a session and I am the producer." I basically then cut out any part I think would interfere with the clarity of the song, or would take away from another part...I often simplify overly complex fills, make sure there aren't any parts that would require a drummer with more than 2 arms, and then add the dynamics to the respective drums. I try to make any parts with 16th or 32nd notes have a dynamic wave to them, it often helps to make the drums sound more realistic. After all, how many drummers do you know that roll at full velocity? (BTW...a good sampler and well programmed drum sample CD with multi-velocity hits is very helpful).

 

At this point, I take into account all the drummers I have known, and how they tended to push or lay back on the beat. I go through the sequence in piano roll view and "de-quantize" the drums how I would imagine a drummer would. i.e. pushing the beat slightly right before a complex fill, as a drummer anticipating that fill would. All in all, I usually spend up to 8 hours on drum programming per song (depending what the song is for..how important it is).

 

At the recording section, I find that often I'll simplify the drum parts even further once the full sequence is running with guitars and bass and vocals...thank god for DAW.

 

 

And of course, there are those wonderful songs where you're NOT trying to make the drums sound realistic.

 

Hope that helps,

 

Chris

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I prefer to use grooveboxes.

I do not use computers in my studio setup (based on a Roland VS-1680) and my Midi sequencing is done via the internal sequencers of each machine I use, all clocked to the VS.

I prefer to use grooveboxes beause of the realtime mixing and filtering possibilities that I have, and as far as sound quality and variety goes, I'm all set.

Actually, I am waiting for some company to come up with a dedicated desktop drum+bass sequencer/module, with a huge sound library, realtime controls, 16 tracks with volume faders and pan/EQ/efx, individual outs, maybe sampling, and coffee brewing built-in.

Go tell that to Anderton so he speaks to his chums at Emu and they get to work on my specs.

Max Ventura, Italy.
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  • 2 months later...

I don't program drums anymore, I'm lucky to have a nice studio to record live drums in now but when I didn't...

 

I programmed drums pattern by pattern...very anal and took longer than any other part of my tracks.

 

I'm a drummer (maybe not a GREAT one but a drummer nonetheless), I used to play drums to all my favorite records and to my sequences...I did this a lot. SO, when I sequence/record a tune I do the whole form with a click and add the drums later. I listen to the track several times imagining what I would play on the drums and also adding in what I wish I could play http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/wink.gif.

 

Then I take each section of the song and work on programming it in a drum machine.

 

I could never afford great drum machines so everything was done on a Roland R-8. I ALWAYS quantize because to me a drum machine will always sound like a drum machine no matter how much "groove" you try to give it. I want my drum machine parts to sound impressive and add to the piece but I never expect them to sound like a real drummer.

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My partner and I are having a debate about whether or not the new song (on its way to the keyboard mp3 compilation, actually, fancy that) needs drums at all. Most of what I do these days doesn't have drums, come to think of it.

 

Like Rob Wallace I did the avant-garde thing for a while- snap a rubber-band against an acoustic guitar for a snare, bonk some wine glasses and process the heck out of it for a kick, etc. Also did a bunch of doubletime fingerdrumming on a guitar body, resampled down one octave then chopped it up into individual hits or riffs, then manually (!) placed the stuff in a sequencer against either the tune or a clapped "click" track, with playback looping and scootching the samples around until it felt good- always wound up sounding like a lo-fi recording of a pretty good drummer using middle-eastern drums but WAY TOO MUCH WORK!

 

Only "programmed" a loop one time for a tune that needed a mechanical pulse. Programming drums is an art in itself, as is working with a metronome. Clapping whilst singing for example the bass line, then playing or placing homemade samples to that, works better for me. Working with loops from a sample CD is another artform- never tried that either.

 

These days it's keyboard drumming with the Wizoo Acoustic Drums (first and only "sample CD" I've ever owned, and a damn good one, cheap too) with the LinPlug RM2 VSTi, and no more loops. Homespun loops are cool, and were fun for a half dozen tunes, but they're just not my thing.

 

The RM2 has very good pitch shifting- many years ago a pro drummer friend of mine pointed out to me the importance of "tuned" drums, even if they are "tuned" to be discordant. A matter of listening and intent, rather than just going through the motions.

 

Just a touch of live hand percussion makes a world of difference when working with sampled drums- miced shakers, little riffs and accents with finger drums like bongos or tabla- I hope the landlord doesn't notice the dents in the silver-plated fruit platter that was part of the furnished apartment. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/redface.gif Got these little nestled brass ashtrays that form a cute hedgehog when stacked, fit into my cupped hands and make a huge sound when shaken- how can you argue with sounds that have strong partials up to 24khz and evoke visions of dancing houris?

 

-CB

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For sounds, I relied on my Korg N1 and Proteus 1 sounds until last Jan. when I added a K2500RS. I'm looking to open up more possibilities with CD-ROM libraries like the Sweetwater drum collection.

 

For basic parts, I do the "kick, then snare, then hi-hat, then toms fills" routine. I also use various sources of MIDI drum patterns (Twiddly Bits, Drumtrax, etc.). In the+ 8 months since I switched from Vision to DP, I've only dabbled with POLAR - does anyone use it for creating loops?

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If anyone is interested ...

 

For sounds... well... everything I can. I do use "SoundFonts" libraries, I use samples from my ReBirth, Drum Station DT-010, Steimberg Beat Box and Reaktor. I also have an ALESIS HR 16 and my synths drum sounds. If not, I do sample my own.

 

One of my favorite samples is a "Basket ball" ball rebound sound I recorded once. Good.

 

For doing Loops, I make loops in the programs I mentioned above and export them to WAV files which I edit later in Sound Forge, then in ACID PRO.

 

For sequencing: I do preffer synth action keyboards, with adjacent keys with the same sound so i can do more realistic "flam" or "rolls". I do quantize mostly the hats and bass drum, usually.

 

What is really cool, is to run a "CAL" in CakeWalk, to split "Note to Tracks" so AFTER I sequenced anything, I do have a different track for each instrument and then I can reassign sounds to the different resultant tracks.

After that, i can run another CAL to split the single track in to or three different ones, because of its velocity, so I can add more dynamics.

 

I have recorded with MIDI drum pads with cool results, but I dont have any here in my studio... I have played (real) drums for several years, so drum tracks are really into my strenghs.

 

GusTraX

 

This message has been edited by GusTraX on 06-03-2001 at 01:13 AM

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