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Ways to create and record non-clubby drum patterns
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Ways to create and record non-clubby drum patterns
olesandström
Hi there,

I am making drone/atonal/experimental music in my spare time and recently started working in film music production.

I have tried a lot of different drum machines in the last couple of years but what I don't like about them is the way they always direct me to create some kind of more ore less steady beat. Another (for me) negative thing is the sound which is most of the time a variation or derivation of classic club drum sounds.

So far, I record my drums and beats acoustically with all kinds of instruments but I would love to have a machine that creates original sounds which I can program with linear and non-linear sequences. I would like to have a physical instrument and not a VST. Also no samples.

Folktek seems to have a few interesting things going on. There are possibilities in Eurorack as well but I don't like that format.

So are there such machines out there? Or what are your techniques?
BugBrand
It is something I've been investigating for some time - how to be rhythmic but not repetitive.
I still don't believe I'm *there* as such, but continue to develop clocked processors/dividers etc - get a host of these running and patch up to create rhythmic events tied to a central clock (which can, of course, be modulated too either independently or by generated events)

Something like my DDSR might be of interest - though demos might be overly regular rhythmic!


MarcelP
A drummer, his kit and a microphone.

That isn’t intended as a facile answer - one can do amazing things with modular but in my opinion drumming isn’t one of them. And yes I make drum patterns and sounds with my Modular, it’s fun and sounds drummer-ish but there are (severe) limitations; not least of which it sounds a bit crap compared to the real thing.
BugBrand
MarcelP wrote:
..not least of which it sounds a bit crap compared to the real thing.


Maybe - but maybe just different.
I've drummed for years and love the simple directness of the kit.
But modular rhythms are differently wonderful - both the actual hits and the rhythmic tone modulations.
The physical & mental approaches are very different - typically with the studio it is more a play until something clicks, a more experimental approach than the directness of 'real' drums.
DickMarker
I haven't ever laid my hand on one but the Plumbutter seems to be a unique and perhaps non-linear take on a rhythm machine?
Muzone
worth looking at the LepLoop Multicassa, comes in desktop and Eurorack format - can generate some quite interesting rhythms smile

MarcelP
BugBrand wrote:
MarcelP wrote:
..not least of which it sounds a bit crap compared to the real thing.


Maybe - but maybe just different.


Yeah OK that was a bit facile... But I think the point is there are strengths and weaknesses to the modular "version" of drums/drumming - and to any instrument for that matter. I love the insistent driving precision one can get with modular drums/percussion and the fact I can use any sound source in the rack as a percussive element, etc. I don't think it is all bad, just as I don't think it is all good. And the OP seems to be wanting something the modular doesn't do very well, though I may be mis-interpreting

If one is aiming to achieve something outside the "area of strength" for a particular instrument then one might look to a more appropriate instrument. If a cellist really wants a lower register she can detune the cello - which sounds a tad odd - or get a double bass. A pianist writes music that requires near infinite sustain - maybe he should play that piece on a pipe organ? A weak spot for modular is polyphony - yes it can be done - but the simpler, less painful, more pleasing result would be achieved with a polyphonic synth.

I sometimes wonder if we strain too much to make the modular do everything - because it has "infinite" possibilities - overlooking other more productive or satisfying approaches to achieving a particular result.

I would rather hear modularists collaborate more with other instrumentalists than strain too hard to keep everything in the box, effectively straightjacketing themselves on a matter of principle - a constraint the average listener is less likely to be interested in than the overall result.

Sorry OP - didn't mean go on quite so much.

And having said all that; I sit in my ivory tower in the countryside, footling around making absurd sounds by inappropriate methods myself - but I am not working to a dead line on film music production.
BugBrand
^^ yep, in (general) agreement ^^
cycad73
BugBrand wrote:
It is something I've been investigating for some time - how to be rhythmic but not repetitive.


Polymeter. 9 vs. 7, 7 vs. 5, or in general 2^N+1 vs 2^M-1.

Foundation of most African musics.

There remain repetitive aspects but the listener can hook on to the rhythm anywhere which means different listeners are always having different experiences. Tension and release happens all the time, everywhere. It's a much more open field. Much more democratic.

The rhythm is structured enough to be engaging. But the annoying aspect of four-on-the-floor repetitiveness where there is only one downbeat, where all listeners are forced to hear the rhythm in exactly the same way, is thankfully gone.
Muzone
https://www.crcpress.com/The-Geometry-of-Musical-Rhythm-What-Makes-a-G ood-Rhythm-Good/Toussaint/p/book/9781466512023

a good place to start.....
olesandström
Thanks for all the replies so far. I will look into your suggestions during the weekend.

If you have more ideas, keep them coming.

I am ot really interested in building a modular... rather looking for one instrument/machine i can work with.

Again, thanks for all the input.
Futuresound
I'd suggest sequencing with things that aren't 'normal sequencers'. I've found that the most interesting 'abstract' or non-standard rhythms come from this practice. I use Eurorack, so my experiences is limited to that format, but I expect you could do similar things in other formats. Or honestly, the possibilities available in this area might encourage you to take another look at Euro, the huge variety of choices for this type of thing are a real strength of the format.

What I mean is: find something that emits triggers or gates and offers control over time, and force it into use as a sequencer.

For my purposes, I have found function generators to be great for this, as they will usually offer a couple of different gates and triggers (EOR and EOC) as well as modulatable rise and fall times so you can introduce variation into timing, and also offer cross-modulation possibilities. In Euro, I use PEG and Quadra extensively for this.

Gate or trigger delays are also excellent. SSF Propagate is amazing in this role - it offers 4 cascaded delay/PW stages with individual and mix outs, and full CV control over both individual and global times/pulse widths.

LFOs are my third source for non-standard rhythms. Vermona's Fourmulator is built with this in mind, and Batumi is another great option - any LFO should work. Use the Square output as a trigger source, and modulate the LFO or use logic to achieve variation.
Muzone
I use a future retro zillion for rhythmic tracks - just set a user scale and map it to the MIDI devices you're using for sounds.
Quite a cryptic interface but good device for throwing up unexpected patterns, I like to use it MIDI merged it with a more conventional sequencer/arpeggiator so you can add random craziness in top of a more predictable pattern.
My current set up is using it with a beatstep pro so the MIDI from the zillion can be converted to cv smile


Future Retro Zillion
Panason
Pattern = repetition. Just don't use the drum machine's sequencer. This is where a DAW with a timeline arranger becomes pretty useful unless you just play everything live and multi-track if needed.
lisa
olesandström wrote:
I have tried a lot of different drum machines in the last couple of years but what I don't like about them is the way they always direct me to create some kind of more ore less steady beat. Another (for me) negative thing is the sound which is most of the time a variation or derivation of classic club drum sounds.

Hm, I’m not sure how broad you are being when you say ”club sounds”. Do you mean all classic TR-808 and 909 sounds or something more specific?

Anyway, try the DrumBrute (or any other polymeter sequencer). When working with polymeter you can with ease create patterns that won’t repeat for hours. nanners
nuromantix
Playing each part from the beginning to the end of the track and then quantising if necessary is a good way.

I think it can become a kind of lazy habit to want to automate everything when you make music with modular synths. Yes you can add random / pseudo-random variations to sequenced parts to add interest and we all love coming up with new ways to do it, but sometimes it's better to put some humanity in and just play the parts to create emotions.
olesandström
Thanks again for all the info.

I think what I am going to look into more deeply will be the plumbutter, the zillion, polymeter and african music.

Eurorack is of course interesting because of the multitude of possibilities to create and vary rytms but I really don't want to go back into that format.

More "traditional" drum machines like the Drum Brute or similar don't deliver what I am looking for though sound wise. They are interesting to create more classic patterns though.

And of course, always best to record drums yourself, but sometimes I need to come up with something else.

But again, thanks for the great input.
lisa
So get a DrumBrute and trigger other sounds? They cost like nothing used.
DickMarker
Perhaps one more thing to consider - and this ties in with the excellent African polyrhythmic style recommendation and also your thoughts on 'club' drum sounds - is trying to get away from the fixed kick/snare/cymbals idea of rhythmic elements, which is very linked to 4/4. Check out stuff like King Ayisoba or Konono No.1, or talking drums for instance.
Panason
The upcoming Pulsar 23 will likely solve your problems if you have the $$$$
olesandström
lisa wrote:
So get a DrumBrute and trigger other sounds? They cost like nothing used.


Could be an idea, but then a more complex sequencer like the Zillion could be better for my purposes...

DickMarker wrote:
Perhaps one more thing to consider - and this ties in with the excellent African polyrhythmic style recommendation and also your thoughts on 'club' drum sounds - is trying to get away from the fixed kick/snare/cymbals idea of rhythmic elements, which is very linked to 4/4. Check out stuff like King Ayisoba or Konono No.1, or talking drums for instance.


Yes, indeed. As soon as you move away from the kick/snare/cymbal setup, things loosen up in a good way.

Panason wrote:
The upcoming Pulsar 23 will likely solve your problems if you have the $$$$


Interesting machine. If build quality is good, the price could be ok.
ayruos
You might want to look into Euclidean trigger sequencers. By modulating the number of 'hits' and 'steps' you will be able to get a number of different variations tied to a clock. How much it repeats or doesn't is totally up to you.

If you have a Drumbrute, I've seen Pd/Max patches for Euclidean sequencers, just send off MIDI from your computer!

What you are looking for - a way to trigger these kind of sequences AND have the options for sounds (minus samples) I don't think exists as one premade device anywhere... a eurorack would certainly be able to do this, or a combo of software utilising algorithmic triggers (like Euclidean patterns) running HW through MIDI or something, yeah, what you're looking for is quite unique and out of box hardware solutions are usually meant for mainstream so you're outta luck there.

Edit: The DFAM could get close though, limited 8-step sequencing but possible to generate a huge variety of percussion sounds.
olesandström
ayruos wrote:
You might want to look into Euclidean trigger sequencers. By modulating the number of 'hits' and 'steps' you will be able to get a number of different variations tied to a clock. How much it repeats or doesn't is totally up to you.

If you have a Drumbrute, I've seen Pd/Max patches for Euclidean sequencers, just send off MIDI from your computer!

What you are looking for - a way to trigger these kind of sequences AND have the options for sounds (minus samples) I don't think exists as one premade device anywhere... a eurorack would certainly be able to do this, or a combo of software utilising algorithmic triggers (like Euclidean patterns) running HW through MIDI or something, yeah, what you're looking for is quite unique and out of box hardware solutions are usually meant for mainstream so you're outta luck there.

Edit: The DFAM could get close though, limited 8-step sequencing but possible to generate a huge variety of percussion sounds.


Yes, I think I will go that way. A combination of software sequencers with external synths, acoustic recordings and possibly a plumbutter.
3pand
I wonder if you could get the sounds you want out of it, but as far as patterns go I love using an Elektron Analog RYTM with different tracks set to different pattern lengths and divisions and then if you add the conditional trigs to that you can really interesting results.

Perhaps the Analog Four would be better in terms of allowing lower level sound shaping and more powerful modulation (it has so many different envelope shapes). The analog four can make a really wide range of percussiony sounds, and of course the RYTM can too but it might be a bit strange to start with the more traditional sounding engines of the rytm and then have to "deconstruct" them, it would feel kind of like fighting the machine I think.

Also, not what you are asking for but I can't help but think of Numerology or a Cirklon for this purpose!
blipson
I use Zendrums (zendrum.com) with a Roland TD-50 drum brain. I don't have any of Roland's drums, just the brain. A rather expensive solution, but it sounds great, with a large variety of kits and sounds. Most importantly, the Zendrum's triggers have a very natural dynamic response so that the thing is fun to play drums on. It would take some effort to make it sound clubby. The Roland drum brain is large (about 30% the size of a 6U case), but the Zendrum/Roland combo is much smaller than a drum kit that includes four toms and percussion.
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