Musical Debate Team

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RobAsh15 / Rob Ash 4mo+8dy ago
There's never a drummer around when you need one... I'm 56. Joined my first band at age 16. Played in bands for 31-32 years until my health made it a good idea to stop performing at live gigs. Never carried a card but was in some good bands. Made a little money. Had a lot of fun. The last 9 or 10 years I've learned to record, built a small but respectable home studio, and concentrated on making songs for fun and, hopefully, eventually, a little profit. I write lyrics, compose and arrange my own songs, play guitar, bass and keys. I rely heavily on midi drums. I also use other virtual instruments in my songs occasionally. I came to Kompoz something like a year ago. I'd already collaborated with lots of folks from all around the globe before landing here, and I am on other sites besides this one where the shtick is essentially the same. I have discovered that Kompoz (a great site!) is noteworthy, among other reasons, for one glaring characteristic that is NOT... I repeat; NOT emphasized on other, similar sites: That trait is the idea, not only shared by so many here, but also all too often expressed, that the only good drum track is one performed by a living drummer playing a physical kit. To that I find myself required to say, after many instances of careful consideration based on seeing this sentiment written here again... and again... and again... What a total load of crap. I love acoustic drums. I love drummers. I started life as a singer. As a little baby rocker, all I did was sing. Other guys played instruments. I soon found out that certain instruments invoke certain prevailing attitudes and mind sets. Guitar players are egotists. Sometimes a little healthy ego in a lead axe is warranted. Sometimes it is not. Good or bad, however, shyness is not a trait a lot of serious guitarists display. Bassists are party dogs... fun boys (or girls)... a little crazy. Personally, I think it all started when they found out they had been shorted two strings. To this day I still think a five, or a six string bass is a sure sign of a cat over-compensating for something... Drummers, above all other band members, are COOL. Easy going. Laid WAY-Y-Y back... Friendly. Approachable. Willing to try almost anything musically. All around good folks. I have often wished that my girlfriends were drummers. Drummers are the kind of people who, after your very first practice with a new band, invite you back to their place for a bowl and a beer. Some of my best friends ever in my life were drummers. Never knew a drummer who I didn't get along with. In a live venue, there just is no band without a drummer. There is no sound. No groove. No soul. Motown or otherwise. I wouldn't be in a performing band that didn't have a real drummer playing a real kit. That kit could be wholly electronic (as long as it sounded good), but there better be a human, or the closest generic equivalent sitting behind that kit if you expect to get anything like a decent sound. In the studio? Well..... okay, If you can get Neil Peart, then forget anything else. Carlton Barrett? I'd walk across town to record that cat. John Bonham was a pagan hard rock god. Tim Alexander did more for progressive composition and arrangement than would be either healthy or wise for me to describe in detail here. The only trouble is, when you are sitting in your little home studio, working up that next one hit wonder, and you go to your Kompoz page and see that, for the umpteenth day in a row, you not only don't have a GOOD set of drum tracks uploaded, you may not have any drums at all uploaded. What's an aspiring, wannabe rock (hip-hop, R&B, funk, country, what-bloody-ever...) god supposed to do? Learn how to compose midi drum tracks, or use loops, is what. And if you are serious about making good music, you learn to use them as well as any other instrument you play. Maybe better, because the truth is drums are VERY IMPORTANT to ANY song. I would never deny that. All I am saying here is that, if you take it seriously, and if you temporarily doff your lemming hat... you know, the one you wear when you are basically repeating all the really cool sounding crap you hear other musicians spout here, you might actually realize that the truth is that midi drums can be, and in the professional music world, often are, JUST AS GOOD as real drums. And they are a DAMN SITE easier to obtain, once you bite the bullet, pass the learning curve, and are able to compose midi drum tracks with creativity and precision control. I am still mastering midi drums, but I'm getting pretty good at using them. I use Addictive Drums currently, but I am considering switching to either Superior Drums, or Steven Slate Drums. All three programs function in a similar manner. Each provides a somewhat varying degree of user control over the kit. I have just about outgrown Addictive Drums, and so it is time to upgrade. Do I think my midi tracks are ALWAYS better than real drums? ...NO. Do I think I would always choose my midi tracks over real drums? ...NO. Here's what I DO think, however: My midi drums are pretty damn good. The individual midi events are recorded from real kits, played by some of the most renowned drummers in their respective genres. In Addictive Drums, I have access to dozens of kits, from all time periods and styles of music. I have access to thousands of FULLY EDITABLE midi loops, in every major genre of music. That fully editable part is crucial, folks, because I NEVER use canned loops. You might say I lay in every strike, on every kit piece, by hand, adjusting each for both velocity and placement in the timeline. Why might you say that? Because that is precisely what I do. I can choose from hundreds of preset engineering schemes as well. From completely dry and sterile to wide open arena pandemonium, with tons of dripping 'verb and oodles of compression. ANY engineering set up can be applied to ANY kit. I can then go in and adjust dozens of user modifiable settings to fine tune each engineering scheme to taste. The result is that I can make my drums sound pretty much EXACTLY the way I want. I don't have to ever accept the reality that my drummer, whom I may love like a brother (or, in a purely platonic way of course, like a sister), only has the one kit, and therefore, the one sound. I don't have to deal with the band only owning two or maybe three mics for the drums, and with some of those being of dubious quality. I don't have to deal with bad rooms, or bad recording equipment, or bad, so called sound guys who get paid in six packs to record the band. And when I have completed my work inside my favorite midi program, I can export each kit piece as a separate stem. I can export the room bus, the overheads, and an FX bus, as separate stems. In my particular program of choice, this means I can export, as fully editable WAV, FLAC, or a variety of other file formats, up to ten separate tracks for my drums. ELEVEN, if you include the click. And please don't get me started about digital tempo. If the only way you can achieve a groove, or find the pocket, or get that "FEEL"... is with a drummer playing with no tempo control, you, and likely your drummer, need more practice. Without digital tempo, 90% of what we all do here on Kompoz, and enjoy so much, goes away. Can a musician record, arrange, compose and edit songs long distance without digital tempo? YES, of course. Can projects be shifted back and forth successfully between several musicians without digital tempo? YES, of course. The problem isn't; "will it work"... or "can it be done"... the problem with this kind of thing is it creates havoc when you are trying to provide a reliable system that allows less experienced players and song makers to compose and arrange new original songs in an online environment. Want to work with no digital tempo, and get that magic "FEEL"? You, and everyone else in your project better be really good at what you do. No inspired beginners allowed. No "meat and potatoes" players allowed. No one who doesn't have a strong inner sense of tempo allowed. How many members of this site do you imagine that includes? I'd venture to say more than it doesn't. One example of this problem manifested would, for example, be: - a guitarist who generates a killer track, with no controlled tempo, that is only partially complete but possesses all the basic ingredients to make a song, and then posts it here. The chances of a drummer developing a track that goes with that guitar track, that can be used to build out a working tune, are slim. Any mistakes in timing in the original track are built into the pie, and will only be rendered more pronounced as other players try and contribute. Can it be done? Yes. But it will be FAR more difficult, and far more likely to crash and burn as junior players encounter the many hurdles such a scenario entails. Digital timing eliminates virtually ALL of those hurdles. Once a player, or a song maker learns how digital tempo is used to control ALL aspects of a song development scenario, he or she can accept ANY contribution to their project that conforms the the digital tempo that project employs. ANY musician can contribute to ANY project which employs a digital tempo with ease, and with a sense of assurance that their tracks will, at the very least, work with the timing of the other tracks in the project. Further, the idea that a musician, no matter how much experience they may have, can reliably tell the difference between a live drum track and a digital one that has been produced and rendered by someone with decent equipment, who knows what they are doing, is patently absurd. If you believe that about yourself, you better check your playlists, my friend. No matter the genre, if a song you like was produced in say, the last twenty years, there is a statistically significant chance it utilized a midi drum track. This is even more likely if the track was created by a song maker, and not a band. Because that song maker does what we all do here. He, or she, sits alone in their studio and composed the song. if they can't play a track, they find someone who can. But, dear friends... drummers are never around when you need them. They'r out back of the band room, getting high and telling stories. With midi, the drummer is always ready, and that cat shows up early with a tractor trailer full of kits, the best mics and recording equipment available, and then hits his licks EVERY TIME. Not to mention he'll do as many takes as it takes. So, if you made it this far, good on you. You have maintained a reasonable attention span despite the rigors and trials imposed by our twenty second society. To close this out, let me say this: I build a strong, finished, edited, HUMANIZED, fully editable set of perfectly "recorded" midi drum tracks for every song I post here. As it should be, my midi tracks develop and improve with continual editing, as the project proceeds. I WELCOME ALL DRUMMERS who are interested to submit their tracks for my tunes. Beat my tracks for sound and usability, and you're my drummer on that song. But until you can provide me with top notch recordings, and clean, clear, punchy, crisp, AND fully isolated stems which allow me to adjust the kit as needed for the song, I reserve the right not to use your stems. Sorry about that, but I just won't ..."feel..." it.

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Created October 13, 2018 by RobAsh15

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