What are drummers for?


Platinum Member
Fair enough. It's nonsense to me because I don't like it... ;) But I also mean since it is so obviously not real, either fake sounding samples or impossible things like "cicada" hi-hats, etc. Some stuff from Sithu and Buckethead, among others, sounds very real to me and I had to look it up to be sure one way or the other whether a real drummer was involved. My ears may not be as refined as yours, but since much metal music is quantized and processed anyway, it's a tough call.

oh, I was not cutting on you...I was just wondering what makes the difference for you...and it sounds like it is the same as me. I can't stand the drum machines in rap/hip hop, but I like them in Industrial...that is purely subjective

what I DON'T like is using a drum machine when you could have used a human. When the machine is not a timbre choice, but a laziness (on some level) choice


Well-known Member
What do you think a real drummer brings to the table compared to programmed drums?
A real drummer can improvise, listen and communicate back. The imperfection is the humanity when done right is beyond perfection but can also be crap too. Programmed drums are a sex toy.


Well-known Member
I just want to be clear that I'm talking about drum tracks that are convincingly real in a rock context, not the obviously programmed nonsense in top 40 music. Here's a random example, not necessarily the best but representative.

What absolute rubbish.


Senior Member
Just feel the need to point how long this has been an issue... discussion.... problem. As I believe, programmed drums have been a popular, viable option in rock record production since the time of Pyromania by Def Leppard (and probably before).

And the debate has done nothing but keep evolving as technology has continued to progress... with multi-mic samples, round robins to prevent "machine gunning" and just increased audio quality - samples now far exceed those from the 80's-90's in sonic quality, realism and versatility. On the other hand, the ability to take a live spontaneous human performance and "clean-it-up" to the point of being indistinguishable to the programmed performance is now readily available. With the idea being - that is now possible to attempt to have the "best of both worlds" - keeping everything great in the human performance, while hopefully lessening the impact of the parts that might be less than great. With I think, pretty much any degree of "splitting the difference" being available - and to just about every production at every budget level. (Back in the Pyromania days, few of us could begin to afford a Fairlight or Synclavier).


Gold Member
I play the drums and program the synths. You can program the drums also, but it is actually easier to just to single track and layer the drum parts, then stretch warp the timing and compress the dynamics. It is really difficult to get a good synthetic drum/cymbal sound. You look at most recording engineers' studios, and they have drum sets and a keyboard. Then of course it takes a good drummer to program a good drum, many people that don't know drums don't get it, it sounds stale and cheesy.

It is sad that there aren't the avenues to play live drums with people anymore, but there you have it. People just don't play all that much music. I blame TV.


Active Member
As a drummer, I usually prefer drums played by a human, but it depends on the genre.
That said, programmed drums sound great as well as programmed guitars, bass etc.


Platinum Member
I think its foolish to believe we can always tell a 'real' drummer recorded in a fairly traditional way from GPT-3 trained up on drum phrases with full sub 5 ms resolution.

...its just applied averaging with an interval of accuracy to its sampled/averaged time variance(that is, its accuracy variance around its library of recorded performances that is statistically within well trained human norms) that is so small we cannot id it.

All depends on the resources you want to expend in training your pseudo-AI.

Same concept goes for video.

Once we get quantum computing working well(if it already isn't...I heard > 100 stable qbits was established?) then real time computation it is - though the limits of classical computing on such a trivial task as we are discussing are not that great....just more expensive.
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Silver Member
What do you think a real drummer brings to the table compared to programmed drums?

I'm not familiar with programing, but do you get the same dynamics as a real drummer?


Silver Member
but...what is the difference? Why is the use in Top 40 nonsense, but it is ok in rock? And beleive me, I am NOT defending Top 40...it is awful

If it is not human, it is ALL programed nonsense to me, regardless of genre, use, or realism...and I love programmed music. Skinny Puppy; KMFDM; Ministry; Nitzer Ebb...but it is still not a replacement for "human"; I often time feel like programmed drums are just a different timbre...

but they will still never replace "human"...at least to my ears
Totally agree. And regarding Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, etc, not sounding "human" in some aspects of the music is the point. Getting it to sound more human would ruin it. The fact that they manage to keep that industrial sound as a live band is amazing.

Edit: especially Skinny Puppy's "Cleanse Fold and Manipulate" songs (almost more ambiance than music). They sound a little more "human" live but barely. Sorry getting off topic. I see Skinny Puppy and KMFDM mentioned and I get all giddy.


Platinum Member
Who wants that programmed crap.
Far too many people sadly.

Most of us can't tell programmed drums anyway nowadays and that's scary that software has made rhythm sections redundant.


Platinum Member
Can we tell the difference between a unique human and software that averages all recorded performances and randomly selects the characteristics to use in creating its final product?

Even going outside of its library can be trained...so it does not have to be literal...just within the statistic limits it is given.

No need to limit the idea to just the drummer either...or the voice on the other end of the phone...or a written forum post.


Silver Member
Meshuggah's Catch 33 album is entirely programmed (drums). I'd never know it if I hadn't been told.

Most of us can't tell programmed drums anyway nowadays and that's scary that software has made rhythm sections redundant.

It's a sad commentary on music and society in general. The things we do, because we have "discovered" how to, don't necessarily amount to something better for us as a species.
We are human, and we seem to be doing all we can to take that away from ourselves. What will we have then?

What is there more to cherish and admire in music than the musician's performance?
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Frank Godiva

Active Member
Not a fan of the machine music today. This article is from 2014.

“Do drums sound different and the same—different in that they don’t sound like the drums of yesteryear; the same in that there is an undeniably homogenous quality to them? A consistency to each drum hit, a vaulted excellence to its sound that feels somehow uncanny, somewhat unreal?

If you have noticed this phenomenon—if you’ve noticed that the drums of today tend to sound shiftily perfect from song to song—you’re not alone.

In the industry, it’s called “sample replacement” or “drum replacement,” although many would rather it were called something less drastic, like “sample augmentation,” or “drum enhancement.”



Senior Member
What are drummers for??

We break the hearts of the ladies.

We offer cuddles and band-aids for the rest of the band.

We build up hopes of the female lead singer who wants to go out with the drummer.

We offer sage advice to the downtrodden.

We bring hope where there is none.

We bring a human breath and a human perspective to the time keeper role.
I know you meant it tongue in cheek but you just described me fairly accurately. Uncanny, really.

I like to think that people will eventually get tired of the perfection (auto-tune, snapping to the grid etc.) and will one day crave a more authentic, organic experience. Flesh and blood musicians will hopefully never go out of style.