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What drum machine do you use flexible enough (in real time) to play in jams?

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  • What drum machine do you use flexible enough (in real time) to play in jams?

    I play keys and host a few jam bands. We get some musicians (and especially singers) that don't know where the beginning (or end) of a phrase is and, even though I've set up a drum machine to play a cover song, things don't go as planned.  Best thing I've been using so far is an old Korg i3 intelligent arranger (just for the drums). I can select a kit, pattern, tempo, etc, then hit buttons on it to trigger from several intros, verses, fills, endings. So if the sax decides he wants to do another chorus (with a different feel) I just hit another verse loop. If the guitarist is stoned and plays a thirteen bar blues phrase, I can just trigger a fill and we're back in the groove.


    Unfortunately, that 20 year old instrument's buttons are getting frazzled and I need to find something else. I can't believe that 20 years of technology hasn't come up with something better - or even similar! I'd like the ability to tweak the patterns and loops (midi?) but it has to be able to perform live with the bands, easily.


  • #2

    wysocki wrote:

    I play keys and host a few jam bands. We get some musicians (and especially singers) that don't know where the beginning (or end) of a phrase is and, even though I've set up a drum machine to play a cover song, things don't go as planned.  Best thing I've been using so far is an old Korg i3 intelligent arranger (just for the drums). I can select a kit, pattern, tempo, etc, then hit buttons on it to trigger from several intros, verses, fills, endings. So if the sax decides he wants to do another chorus (with a different feel) I just hit another verse loop. If the guitarist is stoned and plays a thirteen bar blues phrase, I can just trigger a fill and we're back in the groove.


    Unfortunately, that 20 year old instrument's buttons are getting frazzled and I need to find something else. I can't believe that 20 years of technology hasn't come up with something better - or even similar! I'd like the ability to tweak the patterns and loops (midi?) but it has to be able to perform live with the bands, easily.


     That's because 20 years ago  they didn't have dozens of virtual drum machine you could download for free  or buy IOS drum machine apps or buy a usb/midi plastic box drum machine that tethers to disposable PC/Mac with huge drum sample library

    So probably why there's not a lot to pick and choose from because of the virtual drum machines.

     

    Comment


    • wysocki
      wysocki commented
      Editing a comment

      Thanks, and I agree. I'd love to find a free/cheap virtual machine and have done a lot of searching. But what virtual machine can be used to play sequences that you can change/fill/end on the fly in performance like I could do on the old Korg? Most of the software I've seen has phenomenal capabilities, except for playing a chart (that may vary) live.

      Closest thing I've found yet (not cheap) is Band-in-a-Box. It has a "conductor" feature where you can select a style, then during playback, hit keys on the keyboard (or midi triggers) and change the section of music like a chorus, fills, endings, whatever. Problem is, I bought this in 2008 and it has a bug where "sometimes" the live drums (as they call them) may lose a beat or two when you switch sections, which might cause some confusion in the rest of the band! I reported the bug then, but it STILL has not been fixed five years later!


  • #3

    Well, if folks in the band don't know where phrases start or end, that's one matter. 

    But if you want flexibility in live performance and production, Ableton Live. Get an APC 40 (for control) to build and perform your loops however you want. Live doesn't tell you how to use the program. Use it how you will. You're not going to run out of options. There's a reason why just about everyone using loops to DJs to live electronic musicians are using it. In an effort to not ramble, I'll leave it at that. 

    If you want to use a 'drum machine' in a pro manner, you're not going to get a free lunch. Are you going to hire a free bass player or use a free drum set or free gasoline to get to the gigs? 

    Comment


    • Rob_H
      Rob_H commented
      Editing a comment

      I have used a variety of them over the years; right now I am using an Arturia Spark and it is amazing. It is USB MIDI and is also a controller, needs to be connected to a computer to work. For me it is the perfect blend of the flexibility of software while still maintaining all the benefits of hardware. I tried pretty much all the competition in this space and landed on the Spark because of the layout and functionality; if you look at others side by side you will find a lot of the same features, where Spark accels is how easy it is to access what you need instead of being in "multi-function button hell".

       

      It is compatible with anything I have tried it with, I use a Mac mini now but have also used it with a PC and a PC based laptop. There is a lot of updating on a regular basis including new instruments; if you are going to get one, look for the model 410104 as it is the exact same thing but is on Amazon for about $80 less. I have used this both for live and home recording with no complaints.



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