[LAU] Electric pop music engineering history - Was: Mix feedback on a new track?

Len Ovens len at ovenwerks.net
Sat Oct 4 20:00:28 UTC 2014

On Sat, 4 Oct 2014, Ralf Mardorf wrote:

> On Sat, 2014-10-04 at 10:19 -0700, Len Ovens wrote:
>> In my case, I did mean machine. Machine gun would be something I use to
>> refer to drum rolls
> Folks, lets share "workarounds" for sequencer played synth drums.
> I guess one problem that makes drum rolls sound like a machine gun are
> sounds without decay/release-time. Snares and toms need to be polyphony
> and even a short hit, should cause that they're played from the start to
> the end. IMO the machine-gun issue is much more relevant for the hi-hat,
> since hi-hat's usually are grouped. Playing the sound of the closed,
> half-opened and opened hi-hat immediately stop the hi-hat sound used
> before. This is a very good work around when a open hi-hat is played
> following a closed hi-hat, but it becomes a PITA if you play rolls on a
> closed hi-hat.

The drums/cymbals are unique in music as they are struck repeatedly and 
have resonance. They also sound very different depending on how they are 
struck. A drummer does not emphasis a hit only by playing louder, but 
often also by stick angle, area of skin hit, including the rim in the hit, 
etc. In the same way a drumer will play softer by playing lighter but also 
choosing a different part of the skin to hit. It is still the same drum 
and the resonance remains the same, but the sound changes rather a lot.

A second hit on the same drum/cymbal does more than one thing. At the time 
of the hit the skin is stretched changing the momentary resonance of the 
old hit. The new hit may not be in time cycle wise with the old hit and so 
there will be interferance between the new hit and left over of the old. 
How much of the old hit is masked by the new I haven't really thought 
about. I think this is much more pronounced in a cymbal hit as they do 
ring a lot longer. What is the effect of the old hit on the new if the 
edge is struck on one and not the other, or bell, or any other portion of 
the cymbal. So just keeping the release going will not give the same 
souund, the release needs to be modified by the new hit.

The high hat is different again, it has even more possibilities. Even a 
closed HH can be hit in numerous ways and again most drummers will 
emphasis hits with at least a different stick angle.

In all, the release sound is probably less of an issue than having a 
variety sounds for the same hit. A roll is never played on a drum with 
both left and right hand hits in the same point on the skin, if played 
with classic stick possitions the hand mechanics are totally different 
from hand to hand as well. In a long roll the hits are not left right but 
rather L L R R... but the first L and the second are not the same either 
as the first is a hit and the second is a bounce. A good drummer gets the 
force of the bounce really close to the hit and gets both hands to give 
the same force really well. But they are still human and interperate the 
music and feel as they see fit. That is people naturally change the sound 
of their drum hits to fit their perception of what the music is "saying".

The most common use of electronic drums is for the non-drummer. Often 
using beat patterns or drum parts that are played by KB. I think just 
adding more drum sounds could make a big difference. A left and a right 
sound, a first hit, second hit sound. Even just using the second sound 
every second or third hit with different velocities as well could make a 
big difference. It is like the DX7. It makes many sounds that are not the 
same as an acoustic instrument, but many of the sounds do sound like they 
could be made by some kind of acoustic instrument... just nothing that 
exists. In the same way it is not important that the drums sound like real 
drums so much as sounding like something that could be real.

Len Ovens

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