Friday, 3 March 2006

drum beats

mixing desk
I'm sitting watching some television this evening but have a small piece of 'homework' to do related to explaining something about drums.

I recently edited a small music track for Christina Nott, and my main contribution was to add some drum sounds and balance the sound. I was asked how I made the drum sounds. Well, to confess, not a single drumstick was harmed in the production of the piece. In fact I used a virtual drum kit connected to a keyboard. So how does this work?
I took a set of drum samples from a CD and copied them into Ableton Live, which is a special kind of sequencer software. What this means is that you can hook a music keyboard up to a computer and then use the keys on the keyboard to trigger the samples of drum sound. With Ableton, you can set up different sounds 'columns' (like a spreadsheet) and the select a 'row' of sounds which will all trigger together and can optionally loop (repeat).

So, it is quite easy to set up a sequence A, then B, then C, then D and trigger them in order or randomly as required. The program also allows the sound characteristics of the drums to be modified (like tone controls, but many other specialised functions too). This also means it is possible to place the sounds around the mix in stereo, so different drums can appear to come from different parts of the soundstage.

Another piece of software I use for music editing (on a PC) is called SONAR. Here is someone describing the way to do equivalent drum effects in that program.
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