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Microphone Month 3

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Advice on programming realistic drums


I am not a drummer but i am in the postion where i need to learn how to get some realistic drums sounds mostly in the area of timing and ect..
1- When you Quantize, do you do it a section at a time or wait and do it all at once?
2-Do you tend to push the the drums forward or backwards when offsetting for a more human feel and not a perfect machine feel? Or do you leave the basic drums alone and push or drag the fills forwards (rushed) and ect..?
3-How do drummers tend to play when it comes to timing, do they try to stay on the beat perfectly or do they push and drag certains parts on purpose?
4-What settings do you usually use or do when setting up your quantize settings or swing settings?
Thank you in advance for any info.
Peace and God bless,
October 7, 2006 @07:10pm

I think first off, using excellent drum samples will be the key, multi-sampled kits that react to different velocities in a realistic way. What drums sounds or program are you using? I find that with good programmed drums, if I quantize it completely, it still sounds realistic and not like a machine. Sometimes they is a little variation in how they trigger too, which helps even more. Using less quality drums sounds , if quantized strictly, will sound more machine like, and less real. However, I usually like to quantize it, and randomize it a little, like 8-10 percent just to give it a little feel. Possibly adjusting velocities of certain notes might be needed to help it sound more real. Also, knowing what a drummer would do is very important. This isn't really that hard, just knowing what a good groove sounds like.
I usually play a section, then quantize it, and listen and make it sound as good as i can before moving on. This is just how i work.
October 8, 2006 @04:56am

I'm definitely agreeing with Audioholic here. One of the things I've struggled the most to get over with REAL drummers is getting them consistent, but the hardest part of programming them is making them more inconsistent.
Variation is the key. Don't keep the velocity on everything cranked at 127. Edit the performance to have variations and accents. Not just variation on the strike, but throw in something extra to keep it interesting like a little triplet on the hi-hat. Repetition is good, but the best programmed drums, IMHO, should not sound like a loop (not that there's anything wrong with loops :P especially when they're sugar coated in a bowl with milk).
Think of the groove how your drummer would, and try not to go nuts with the fact that you can make in-human drum parts. Remember; only 2 hands and 2 feet.
Another thing would be that you've got the freedom to tweak and automate your mix on the drums. You can add all kinds of life to things with some crafty automation. Maybe automate the EQ on your snare or kick drum in different sections or maybe even just for certain accents. Give that snare hit a bit more low end, or add/subtract some of the high end on some of the kick depending on what material calls for. Also, creating an artificial "room mic" for the kit on a separate bus with a short delay, a decent reverb, and squashing the crap out of it can add a nice touch too.
It may sound a bit over-the-top, but if you think it's still lacking a little extra something, give it a go. These days there's little other than your own imagination to keep you from getting things to sound the way you want them to. Again though, I advise moderation. If your automation view looks like a polygraph test on a politician, you may want to rethink the best approach.
Hope that helps.
October 8, 2006 @05:19pm

Hey Thanks Guys for your advice.
I was using battery 1 and 2 for my drum samples but now i am using ez drummer by toontrack.
I agree with the quatizing section by section that way i can get the drums sounding the way i want before i on.
Fills are where i seem to have trouble sometimes. Do i push them forward or pull them back or vice versa so that they go with the flow of the groove instead of sounding really out of place and so forth.
Thanks again for the tips.
Peace and God bless,
October 9, 2006 @01:29am

well, if you get too far off rythm, then , it will just sound sloppy drumming ya know. A good drummer keeps good time, and so should you. A good fill is in how its played, whether multiple snare hits, then toms then cymbal crash or whatever. Does'nt ez drummer come with tons of midi files too? if so, listen to some loops and see what they did. you may find yourself expanding from just 16th notes, and maybe adding some 32 or triplets into the mix, just hear it in your head first, then try to get pro tools to emulate it, which may take some experimentation with different timings and rythms. you may have to move some notes on the grid around to get it to play how you want, and once again, you may have to go beyond 8th or 16th notes. keeping it in solid time is fine, and if you want to slide it a bit, then see if it works, just remember, your sliding it out of good rythm if you go to far.
October 9, 2006 @06:28am

Speaking as a drummer of over 30 years, I can give you one tip that works pretty well. When I play, I keep the kick right in the pocket, as close to perfect as possible. To relax the feel of a song, you could delay the snare a few ticks. To push the song, dial the snare forward a few ticks. A little bit goes a long ways. Keep dynamics intact as much as possible. That's barely scratching the surface, but it's a good place to start.
October 10, 2006 @04:57am

If you want them to sound realistic, use a keyboard or drum pads and bang 'em out.
Honestly, if you're using a step sequencer, it has a very strict and ridged feel to it, so it wont sound like they're being played. As someone else mentioned, great samples are key. No body wants to hear that snare sample that sounds like a strethed out plastic bag being smacked over a 5gallon bucket. You can also gate certain insturments, like the snare or toms for a snappier sound.
It also really, really, really helps if you've studdied drumming. It's kind of hard to create a sound you're not expiereinced with.
October 19, 2006 @05:05pm