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Banging the same old drum

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  • Banging the same old drum

    I am thinking of buying an Alesis 18 drum machine for use live. I have used and will continue to use tracks for some songs, I guess about ten in the evening, but do hate the discipline required because of the lack of flexibility. With the judicious use of two foot pedals I should be able to start and stop as well as change pattern and add fills on the fly thereby adding texture and give me the option of extending or conversely shortening the song. My main objective is to add a groove/beat for the dancing part of the evening.

    Extensive searching on this and other websites reveal lots of talk of drum machines being used in a live situation but hardly any videos of it being done especially by solo performers. I do appreciate that one kind chap posted one here of his band using the rhythm device attached to his electric organ. But I was after more dynamic use of more modern drum machines.

    Any links or thought in general much appreciated.

    Cheers Steve
    Cheers Steve

  • #2
    I used an alesis HR16 long ago and the drum samples were great. What it lacked was useful drum patterns, so I had to program my own which weren't always that good. Creating an interesting waltz pattern has always been difficult, along with latin rhythms. Straight ahead 4/4 Rock isn't a problem.

    My setup was the drum machine with keyboards. I played the bass lines with my left hand, chords and lead with the right hand. Worked out pretty good for some songs, but I didn't have a way of changing to a fill on the DM.


    • #3
      It's my belief that when you're using a drum machine to get people dancing, then they aren't really listening to it, just dancing to it. So IMO fills and such aren't all that necessary, and can be distracting if they're built into the track and the song isn't entirely in sections divisible by two or four. Then things happen like a fill starting on the beginning of a verse because the chorus was nine bars instead of eight.... It can also be distracting to the performer if they're trying to trigger the fills all the time. Note that I'm not talking about a drum track in a sequence. In a sequence drum fills, feel changes and even slight tempo changes are failry important (at least to me) because you're trying to recreate or at least create a total musical package.

      I know that when I play in a piano/guitar duo using a drum machine, we usually use a two to a maximum four bar pattern. It's an old Boss unit (one of the Dr. series). By the time we're jamming I don't even notice the machine except that it makes it easy for people to dance.

      Anyway, I would now mainly use a drum machine for sounds, but if I do use it for musical back-up I use a Boss DR570. The sounds are fine and it also has bass sounds as well. The presets are adequate but I built my own because I'm fairly picky - YMMV. IIRC it has a "fill" feature whereby you can trigger a fill by hitting a key pad. I can't remember if that can also be done by foot pedal though.

      I think there's a new version of the Boss Dr.Rhythm series out - might be worth a look.