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  #1  
Old 03-04-2009, 08:25 AM
PeterD PeterD is offline
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Default Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Thanks for your comments

Good suggestion about using both a drummer and machine for the guys who don't have the chops.

The music style is rock. We have our sets nailed to the last beat anyway, and we don't improvise, so the lack of flexibility isn't a problem. It's more a question of sonics.

Have you ever heard a band that uses a machine where you though it does sound convincing, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Last edited by PeterD; 03-04-2009 at 08:05 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-04-2009, 11:51 AM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

I've known a band for some time who use a drum machine live, and I have to say that it is usually disappointing. For a start off, most sounds engineers seem to take it as an opportunity to have things turned down, and so they're quieter than most bands.
Also, it'll never ever ever sound like live drums.

Tell you what though, I did see a band a few weeks ago who had programmed drums AND a live drummer, and that was brilliant! That might be something worth considering. Get someone who's solid and reliable, and then program the complicated stuff.
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  #3  
Old 03-04-2009, 03:13 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Drum machines.... I absolutely hate the sound of perfect hits and perfect pseudo drum sounds. A song has to have a real human playing a real snare drum for me to like it. If I hear one more of those synthesized handclap backbeats I'm going to gouge my eyes out with a teaspoon. Don't do it man!
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  #4  
Old 03-04-2009, 03:32 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

I couldn't agree more with larryace but at the same time I understand your predicament.
Anyone who has tried finding the right musicians knows how incredibly frustrating that can be. Hang in there and keep looking, your drummer is out there somewhere. Nothing beats a real drummer.
If you decide to go with a machine all I can say is good luck with that.
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  #5  
Old 03-04-2009, 03:38 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Well, what style of music are you aiming to play? Live dance/breaks/jungle, then programming is essential, pop music you could get away with it, rock music's probably not going to work. It would work for writing, working on arrangements, demos etc.
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  #6  
Old 03-04-2009, 03:40 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

The real problem is that, unless you're using like a trigger pad or a kaoss pad or something where you can reset and change grooves organically, a synthetic drum track just CANNOT roll with the punches. There's nothing like a human to handle screw-ups, slow-downs, and improvisation. If you're going to use programmed drums (and hey, it's fine, I mean lots of fantastic bands do it successfully) then you'd better have the whole show completely ready, down to the last hit. Otherwise, your drum tracks will just sound like pointless loops in the background and dumbness will set in rapidly.
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Old 03-04-2009, 03:49 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Let me first say that as a drummer I naturally am against the use of a drum machine to replace a "live" drummer. However, if it means putting food on the table and paying rent, you gotta do what you gotta do.
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  #8  
Old 03-04-2009, 04:24 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

I know of one local band which went this route. Unfortunately for them, the band lost part of it's allure, the crowd quit coming & they folded.
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  #9  
Old 03-04-2009, 06:09 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonescrusher View Post
Well, what style of music are you aiming to play? Live dance/breaks/jungle, then programming is essential, pop music you could get away with it, rock music's probably not going to work.
That's my question as well, the style will dictate whether you should be seeking a live drummer at all. It's hard to imagine that you've been unable to find a capable drummer who's reliable. It's the first time I've heard of that... there are a million drummers around. If you've tried 10 that don't work, try 11. If you've tried 50 that don't work, try 51. Etc.

But 'settling' for a sequence is not the answer if you really need a live drummer. Neither is a very good substitute for the other.

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  #10  
Old 03-04-2009, 06:55 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

You could try it, but I don't think you will get far. It's not going to be 'live,' you might as well record the material and hit the play button. If it's more electronic/pop stuff then give it a go.

People come to see a band, not a guitarist, bassist and a cd player sitting on the drum stool.
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:03 PM
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  #11  
Old 03-04-2009, 08:31 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

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Originally Posted by PeterD View Post
Have you ever heard a band that uses a machine where you though it does sound convincing, or am I barking up the wrong tree?
Have you ever heard a band where the keyboardist playing key bass sounded convincing?

Come on, am I going to be the only one to say it? After this last question, isn't it pretty obvious that this bass player was looking for validation from drummers to get rid of the live drum sound, so the guitarist, bassist and singer would share a bigger cut? And like the good guys drummers always are, we're actually trying to be high minded and helpful, even after those condescending catch phrases from his first post /drum religion etc/ that have now been conveniently deleted. Besides even if his intentions were good, this was yet another example of a band with three leaders and one sideman who always just happens to be the drummer. Wouldn't it be interesting to know what those drummers thought about you guys and your playing?

Bottom line, if your sound is that rigid, where deviation via improvisation or anything else is totally absent, then yeah a drum machine fits you just fine. Just don't try to blanket your failings by telling us that an unlimited number of drummers in the world couldn't meet your expectations. I mean after all, how many times have we as drummers heard struggling bass/guitar players say that? Sounds to me like it was the other way around.

I apologize for the bad vibe here. But I just think it's rude that someone like this would come to a drum forum of all places to ask such questions. I ask the drummers here. Am I that far off the mark? Am I barking up the wrong tree?
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  #12  
Old 03-04-2009, 08:57 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Webmaster - some strange things are happening with my posts. When I make a post, I get duplicates. When I delete them, this deletes my original post! %-)
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  #13  
Old 03-04-2009, 09:09 PM
PeterD PeterD is offline
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Matt

I wanted to know if there were any drummers here who had programmed machines to emulate drums. Perhaps this is the wrong forum, for which I apologize.

I am not looking for "validation" to get rid of a drummer. I'm prepared to explore the route of machines BECAUSE we have so many problems finding a drummer that will fit in. This is not about pay. This is a question of availability and time. Perhaps some people have months to audition and trial drummers, but we do not.

When I say I'm not interested in the religion of musicians, it means I wanted to avoid an esoteric argument about how valuable drummers are. I'm not interested in bass religion. I'm not interested in drum religion. I'm not interested in any muso religion. I'm interested in solving a scarcity/reliability problem.

It's not personal. Really :)



*I don't know why the posts are getting screwed up. There appears to be a database issue. My posts get overwritten or duplicated when I hit reply
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  #14  
Old 03-04-2009, 10:30 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Good luck programming complex drum parts. You're going to need it if you can't even figure out how to post on this forum.
Sorry, but I have to agree with Bermuda. I just can't imagine you can't find a competent drummer. Go to see some live bands in local clubs, and steal one!
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  #15  
Old 03-04-2009, 10:50 PM
PeterD PeterD is offline
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Quote:
You're going to need it if you can't even figure out how to post on this forum.
Sigh. I've administrated vBulletin forums before, so I know what I'm doing. I suspect the database is flagging the record field with the same unique id on each post. This can happen if the data is corrupted.

Clearly, I'm in the wrong forum. I have received some responses from professionals who understand the business and practical side of music, but it is unfortunate to see the very defensive attitude on display from others.

We're pro-level in terms of skill and sound, but we all have careers. Music is a hobby for us. It's difficult to find and keep pro-level drummers as they usually want more regular gigs than we tend to play i.e. they need the money, but we don't. I completely understand this.

There was a great suggestion made to go with someone who may not the skill level we require, but add some programming and loops as well. I'll explore that. Thanks for your help.

To the rest - good luck with your drumming, although some of your levels of professionalism could use work ;)

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  #16  
Old 03-05-2009, 07:51 AM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Whoops....my bad. I humbly apologize. You clearly know more about vBulletin forums than I do.

Please do not be put off this forum by my comment. This forum is notorious for being the nicest, coolest, most flame retardant forum in the world!

Sorry PeterD, please forgive my momentary lack of judgment, times are tough, I just got laid off from work. I know that is not a valid excuse for treating another person badly, but can partially explain my mood at the time of my post.

If you were recording in the Philadelphia area, I would actually welcome the challenge of nailing your drum tracks for you, if possible. I can program drums too.

Again, sorry.
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  #17  
Old 03-05-2009, 08:07 AM
PeterD PeterD is offline
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

No worries :)

Perhaps I could have phrased things better.
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  #18  
Old 03-05-2009, 08:21 AM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

well I'm already doing it. I use sequence tracks which include percussion, keyboards (strings, piano), bass, electric guitar. Along with this I have a live drum kit (me playing) a bouzoukist (eight string {greek} lead instrument) and a singer. It sounds absolutely incredible. So, you see what's good for the goose is good........
It works both ways.

If a drum machine works for you then go for it. I'll say one thing though, its a very difficult instrument to emulate live, many have tried and failed. Good luck in your endeavor.
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  #19  
Old 03-05-2009, 08:42 AM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Actually, as a secondary drum track, it seems quite fine. As long as too much emphasis isn't put on the drum machine, it won't sound like you tried to replace a free-thinking human being with a robot.

Yeah, I'm no fan of drum machines or computer-generated music, but I think it can be done.
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  #20  
Old 03-05-2009, 02:22 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

There are plenty of death metal, black metal and grindcore bands that use drum machines and it works quite well for them. However metal drumming can sound a bit robotic even when done by a real drummer so that's probably why a drum machine can fit in. If your programming is good, and you don't mind if feel and atmosphere are compromised, then I don't see the problem with using a machine.
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  #21  
Old 03-05-2009, 03:32 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterD View Post

When I say I'm not interested in the religion of musicians, it means I wanted to avoid an esoteric argument about how valuable drummers are.
I was entirely capable of understanding what you meant. But I'm curious how you believed you could avoid that esoteric argument on of all places, a drum forum.

I also figured out the sentences where you cleared it all up about how a database problem miraculously ate the only forum post we're discussing, and the part where you're a hobbyist/who could be a real pro if he wanted to/ who calls people who question your methods unprofessional.

As someone who has visited many, many forums over the years, I know full well what would have happened on a bass or guitar forum had a drummer showed up with an identical plan in reverse. And all the passive/ aggressive maneuvering here, including the judging of tone over content, won't change that.

This isn't just a drum site, it's THE drum site, with a primary emphasis clearly pointed towards the direction of a live drum sound. With that said, how do you avoid drum religion at the place where iconic drummers are not only discussed, but enshrined in the closest thing that set playing has to a hall of fame?

Of course programmed drum sounds are also part of what we do, and I've done plenty of it myself, as supplement to the live drum sound. But this is new territory for this forum in that no one from the outside has ever come here to ask drummers how not to use a drummer.

It would have been one thing had this band always used programmed drums, and was now coming to us seeking new methodology. But this is entirely different, in that non drummers have asked other drummers how to eradicate a live drummer under the guise that the real thing didn't cut it, and there was no alternative solution in a state with thousands of drummers.

In my opinion, percussionists can never be cool with the idea that machines can replace us in any context, or for any reason, including financial. We're the oldest instrument in the world. We need to embrace the concept that we run the show, not the other way around. By helping people like this, you open a Pandora's box that can never be closed, and your worth will always be judged and evaluated by others. Moreover, you will have little or no say in the matter.

If that's a defensive tone, then I think there are worse things to be defensive about.

My 2c and change.
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  #22  
Old 03-05-2009, 05:03 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

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Originally Posted by mattsmith View Post
I was entirely capable of understanding what you meant. But I'm curious how you believed you could avoid that esoteric argument on of all places, a drum forum.

I also figured out the sentences where you cleared it all up about how a database problem miraculously ate the only forum post we're discussing, and the part where you're a hobbyist/who could be a real pro if he wanted to/ who calls people who question your methods unprofessional.

As someone who has visited many, many forums over the years, I know full well what would have happened on a bass or guitar forum had a drummer showed up with an identical plan in reverse. And all the passive/ aggressive maneuvering here, including the judging of tone over content, won't change that.

This isn't just a drum site, it's THE drum site, with a primary emphasis clearly pointed towards the direction of a live drum sound. With that said, how do you avoid drum religion at the place where iconic drummers are not only discussed, but enshrined in the closest thing that set playing has to a hall of fame?

Of course programmed drum sounds are also part of what we do, and I've done plenty of it myself, as supplement to the live drum sound. But this is new territory for this forum in that no one from the outside has ever come here to ask drummers how not to use a drummer.

It would have been one thing had this band always used programmed drums, and was now coming to us seeking new methodology. But this is entirely different, in that non drummers have asked other drummers how to eradicate a live drummer under the guise that the real thing didn't cut it, and there was no alternative solution in a state with thousands of drummers.

In my opinion, percussionists can never be cool with the idea that machines can replace us in any context, or for any reason, including financial. We're the oldest instrument in the world. We need to embrace the concept that we run the show, not the other way around. By helping people like this, you open a Pandora's box that can never be closed, and your worth will always be judged and evaluated by others. Moreover, you will have little or no say in the matter.

If that's a defensive tone, then I think there are worse things to be defensive about.

My 2c and change.
And that, in a nutshell, is why we all love Matt!

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  #23  
Old 03-05-2009, 05:20 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

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Originally Posted by mattsmith View Post
If that's a defensive tone, then I think there are worse things to be defensive about.
There are worse things to be defensive about. The concept of machines replacing drummers is more folklore and fear, than fact.

I've seen em come, and I've seen em go, and I'm still here. Why? Because when machines and Simmons started becoming widespread in the early '80s, rather than be scared or concerned, I got a Simmons kit. Then, a machine. Then, another. Next came samplers. Then I learned to program in a computer and create custom sounds. It's as simple as the old saying, "When in Rome..." Or, more accurately, the more things change, the more I change.

Ironically, acoustic playing has remained predominant in my career. The 'machines' never did take over, although they continue to play an important part in making music. And the thing is, whenever a 'machine' is needed, I get that work too. No machine or programmer or sample library ever took work away from me - it has only added to my income.

If that's still considered replacing live playing, then I'm glad I'm the one replacing myself.

But you'll never hear me being defensive about someone using a sequence as if it was being done to take food out of my mouth. Nobody owes anybody a gig, and to insist on it is rather selfish. And that just doesn't fit-in with being a pro for the long-term.

And if there's any doubt remaining about the balance between programmers and drummers, just look at today's drumming heroes. I don't think anyone's ever been put on a pedestal because of their programming abilities.

Bermuda
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  #24  
Old 03-05-2009, 06:19 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Ya, I'm in a situation now where I am stuck playing the same 4/4 basic rock beat on our songs over and over again on every freakin' song. Do you know how boring that is??!!? I'm bored out of my skull.

When I mentioned this to our piano player and said they don't need a live drummer, they can get by with a simple drum machine, he sort of took offense. I said again that I'm not allowed to experiement with different rock beats. A drum machine would do them just fine, he still took offense.

I'll let this go on for another month or so, but after that, I'm seriously considering giving them a choice: either let the drummer drum, or get a drum machine and shut up! You don't need a live drummer only playing the most basic 4/4 rock beat.
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Old 03-05-2009, 06:54 PM
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Ya, I'm in a situation now where I am stuck playing the same 4/4 basic rock beat on our songs over and over again on every freakin' song. Do you know how boring that is??!!? I'm bored out of my skull....You don't need a live drummer only playing the most basic 4/4 rock beat.
An common perspective, yet it still fascinates me.

I love playing drums - period. I'm seriously just as happy playing 'time' as being busy. The excitement - or lack of - comes from the music around me anyway, not the parts I play. So if I don't particularly like a gig, it has nothing to do with me not getting a chance to cut loose - it's that I may not like the music.

But that's the musician in me, not the drummer. All I want to do is play the right parts, and it doesn't particularly matter what those parts are in terms of me enjoying playing. The fact that I'm playing is enough for me, and is a large part of what has allowed me to enjoy a rather long career in music.

And I don't begrudge anyone for making choices per their own drumming desires. Maybe I'm just jealous of someone who can afford to walk away from a gig! In the meantime, I'll just keep working.

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Old 03-05-2009, 08:42 PM
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Old 03-05-2009, 09:07 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Do we know where Peter lives? Could well be an area where there are no drummers, who knows?

I'm not offended at all by the topic of this thread but it seems some are, and may have been a little harsh. It was inevitable really what the majority would feel towards programmed drums at a gig. I would say go ahead with it if time is short and see how things go, then you will know yourself down the line if it was a good (bad) idea.

I did notice yesterday that your first thread Pete had been overwritten with a later one you had posted.
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Old 03-05-2009, 09:28 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

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Shouldn't a drum forum be the last place to have this discussion?
Who knows better than a drummer how a sequence can or can't do what a drummer does in music?

I didn't view it as any disrespect to drummers, working or not, and I took no offense to the question. In fact, I thought Peter was trying to keep a live drummer, and was talking about sequences as a last resort or possibly integrating with the drummer. Unless I completely misunderstood the question.

Either way, I'm not offended or threatened that someone would ask my opinion of a machine, any more than if they asked my opinion of another drummer in order to give him work. And believe me, that happens regularly. With my schedule, many bands don't want to use me because I can't always be there for them, so they want to know who I'd recommend either as a sub for me, or as a permanent member of the band. No biggie. My job as a musician is to do what's best for the band, even if it means me not being in it!

So if someone asks when a machine is suitable in the absence of a live drummer, I have to be honest about it, even if it was my gig at issue. Being defensive or displaying any kind of self-serving attitude or entitlement is 1) unprofessional, and 2) not going to result in my getting the gig anyway.

In this business, it's the nice guys that finish first. I probably wouldn't have believed that early in my career, but after more than 35 years as a working pro, I can assure you that it's true. A quick look at the most successful drummers in the business will reveal very few who are defensive, angry, feel entitled, or are generally unpleasant or have bad attitudes. I suppose that applies to just about any profession, but I'm not really trying to be a life coach here, just a wise old drummer. Well, maybe just an old drummer. But I think that says something, too.

Bermuda
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Old 03-05-2009, 09:44 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

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Originally Posted by PeterD View Post
The music style is rock.

Have you ever heard a band that uses a machine where you though it does sound convincing, or am I barking up the wrong tree?
Woof.

Well, now that the style has been revealed, it is customary to have a live drummer in terms of the presentation... as opposed to a techno band where it's acceptable to have 2 German guys with synths (Two Klaus For Comfort?) and where a live drummer might indeed seem out of place, even assuming he could duplicate the parts and trigger the sounds.

But for most rock, it's certainly possible to program parts and make them sound great. But it really takes a drummer to do program drummer's parts and to do it right means a fair bit of work. It's really probably smartest to have a drummer that capable simply be the drummer in the first place.

Bermuda

Last edited by bermuda; 03-06-2009 at 12:29 AM.
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  #29  
Old 03-05-2009, 10:35 PM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

There are 100's if not thousands of bands out there that use a drum machine. Some have even had some decent careers.

What I find missing it is has no punch on stage. You need a bass drum and snare to move air on stage, or else, as mentioned previously, it sounds like the band is turned down.

Also, if the drums are on machine, and you have a keyboard, after a while, the audience starts to wonder if ANYTHING is actually playing live on stage. Nothing worse than going to see a band and it's just a guy with his laptop pushing "start" on the sequencer. Might as well just have the DJ spin the CD.

Mixing in machines, loops and such with a live drummer is often a good compromise. I've done it often. I've played drums along to sequencers and loops so often, it's become 2nd nature to me.
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Old 03-06-2009, 11:26 AM
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Default Re: Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterD View Post
Have you ever heard a band that uses a machine where you though it does sound convincing, or am I barking up the wrong tree?
It may be a little late to add anything to this discussion by now, but I would like to ask you what it is that you want to convince people of?

As Bermuda said, one isn't a substitute for the other, they are different things. To make full use of what a machine can do you have to embrace it fully and use it to its potential, and programming rock drumming is not that. Electronic music has no need to convince anybody that there's a real drummer playing, and so real creativity can come into play. Simply programming a 'realistic' drum part is difficult to the point of being, well a bit of a waste of time. Editing the velocities of individual hits to create a more realistic sound? Every single hi-hat? Every snare hit? Different samples for different levels of playing?
Imagine assembling a guitar part from individual slices of audio, and how difficult that would be. No-one would bother, except possibly some kind of anally-retentive glitch producer who spends hours doing just that. But that isn't really what rock is about, is it?

However, you seem to be an intelligent person, so you must know some or all of this already. So what is it, actually, that you really want to know?
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