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From The Boiler Room: Less Is More From A Virtual Drummer


DrumsAs you may have gathered from previous posts, the drums on the album aren’t going to be provided by a real drummer, but will come from a drum VSTi, specifically EZDrummer.  Looking back at the rules I set myself at the top of the project, I want the end result to sound like all of the songs should sit together and so I’ll not be aiming to have a different kit used on every song.

I want to keep the drums simple, rather than flashy.  In the past, I’ve not been afraid of using multiple tom rolls to add life to a fill, but that’s partly because I’ve felt I was constantly recycling the same three-hit snare fills and wanted something that added more variety.  I was programming for external hardware, which had one sample per voice, so there was a need to add that variety to get away from the machine gun effect.  There’s only so much you can do with varying note velocity.  In these days of multi-sample drums and round-robin voicing, that’s no longer an issue.

As these songs haven’t been recorded before, there’s no drum track in existence for them, so the temptation to keep past sins isn’t going to be an issue.  The issue I have to determine is which kit or kits will be used on the record, given that I have several EZX expansion packs and, as I’ve previously noted, NI’s Studio Drummer for Kontakt.

In line with keeping it simple, I’ve decided to confine my main kits to the EZX Americana and the EZX Indie Folk.  Both feature snare, kick, hi-hat, two crash cymbals, one ride and two toms.  (Two toms?  I can’t possibly live with only two toms!).  However, I want to add an uncertain edge to the proceedings, so the EZX Twisted Kit may contribute some sounds and the EZX Latin Percussion will add its own flavour to some tracks.  Using multiple EZX kits isn’t an issue and it’s on the list for a future video tutorial.  The other, (larger), kits will get their turn at some point in the future, but not for now.  Likewise, I don’t see the Studio Drummer kits getting used on this project, as even the “small” Garage Kit features 4 cymbals and 3 toms.

My initial thoughts are that the Americana kit will take the lead on the songs with a rock/pop uptempo feel, whilst the Indie Folk will underpin the softer songs.  I have a few songs written as ballads, a couple of which have a definite jazz feel to the chord sequence, and these will be the biggest challenge in terms of the rhythm section – I don’t want to fall back on my usual arrangement of no drums in the first verse, rimshot snare in the second verse, leading up to full kit in the third verse and final choruses.  It’s predictable and boring.  I need to do better.

photo credit: bracchettid via photopin cc

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