Drums on demand
In the last blog I looked at how technology is creeping into the world of the drummer. This time we’re going to delve a bit deeper into the advantages of drum technology for drummers and non-drummers alike.
Think of the space an acoustic kit takes up. For most people it’s not practical to keep a drum set in the house. Unless you have a spare bedroom or an unused garage, you’re out of luck. If you want to learnt play you have to rent a rehearsal space to keep the kit in, or wait to play between lessons. Electric kits such as those by Yamaha or Roland take up a lot less space and can fit in the corner of a room without taking it over. Plus with the lower volume and headphones options, they’re a lot less likely to have your neighbours issuing cease and desist notices against you while you nail that double kick and cymbal crash pattern – much more conducive to home practice.
As a long-time guitarist , I recently found myself wanting to learn the drum basics to help my songwriting – so I shoved an electric kit in the corner of the smallest bedroom and hey presto – all set to rock, minus the talent and the timing – and even they can be touched up if I record direct into Pro Tools and fix up my mistakes in what I played.
In the studio, drums are one of the most difficult instruments to record. Not only do they require a large room to set up in with conducive acoustics, they need a multitude of microphones placed on individual drums and around the kit to pick up individual sounds and room ambience – expensive and time consuming. And then there’s the mixing required to get a good kit sound – it’s an art in itself. After recording and checking the mix, it’s likely you’ll want to use the original sounds to trigger some replacement samples, especially in the case of the kick drums and snare to get things sounds crisp and meaty enough. And while the vocalists and guitarists have it easy recording overdubs to iron out those little errors, often the producer will insist the drummer nails it in one take as drum overdubs are notoriously tricky to get sounding like a natural fit. Recording drums is either a nightmare or an art – there’s no question that drum programs like EZ Drummer and Superior Drummer 2 make it far easy to approximate the sound and mix you are looking for and save a lot of time in the process. What’s more, the work can be done anytime, anywhere, on any reasonably specced laptop, reducing studio time and costs.
Home recording musicians benefit
The ability to leave behind the professional drum recording room and work from a fairly modest home or portable setup opens up the doors for talented musicians to get their music out to the masses on an affordable budget. Take the first Kill or Cure album – most if it was done without a drummer or a studio. Just three band members 250 miles apart recording guitars and bass direct into Pro Tools. The drums are programmed in. Only the vocals needed to be recorded outside the confines of our homes. How did it turn out? Well you can here a clip below – you be the judge: