Replace Live Drummer With Drum Machine

mattsmith

Platinum Member
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.
 

Paul Quin

Pioneer Member
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!

Paul
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
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
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
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.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
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.

Bermuda
 

trysthedrummer

Senior Member
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.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
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
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
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
 
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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
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.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
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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