Drummer Vs Drum Machines

Submitted By simonp23
Words: 1642
Pages: 7

Drums are unquestionably one of the most important instruments in music. Creating the palette for a drummer to rhythmically bring a piece of music to life, and without a doubt will be a major part of live music for the rest of time, but with technological advancements in digital audio and synthesis, is the role of the drummer, particularly in the recording of modern pop/dance music slowly dying? Is there even a need for hiring a drummer when a computer or drum machine can do the job? Or is the human element of creating a groove and rhythm something that cannot be synthesized? Drummers vs. drum machines, there are many different opinions on this matter, most ‘old school’ musicians and engineers see it their way and most young up and coming ‘bedroom producers’ see it theirs. This review will focus on research that highlights some of the many advancements in digital audio and MIDI technology and consider the opinion of others on recording drums as apposed to programing.

The modern drum kit that has been the standard for musical genres such as jazz, rock, blues, pop, dance and many more is a relatively new instrument. Although the drum as an instrument could probably be traced back to the days of the caveman banging bones on a make shift drum around a fire, supplying the rhythm to dance, the modern kit has only been around since the 1930’s. Coincidently in the same decade the drum machine was in its early stages of development although the technology was almost forgotten until the 60’s. Both drummers and drum machines have developed over decades and are both prominent is music today. An experienced drummer, able to keep time and react to the music live creating different rhythms and grooves simply by hitting the drums a fraction slower then normal or adding a syncopated hi hat pattern. These are skills that make a good song sound great, an incredible production technique; this is an opinion that is shared vastly throughout the literature for this topic. Articles for the recording revolution and silver lake studio make a firm argument for there is no substitute for human interaction.

“Plain and simple, a decent recording of a real drummer playing a real drum kit can do WAY more for your mix than a perfectly polished virtual drummer can do. It’s hard to measure, but the intangible feel, vibe, and energy that is created in real life gives so much validity and nuance to your recordings.”

But what can be said for the drum machine or virtual drummer? If the human element of drumming is what makes it so interesting what is the point of even having a drum machine? The drum machine has been the fundamental core of genres the likes of hip hop, house, techno and the majority of electronic music, its convenience and practicality has enabled thousands, more likely hundreds of thousand people to become a music producer, whether they are working on beats in there bedrooms at there parents house or as big as timbaland working on his next number 1 single. A lot of arguments have been made for the practicality of a drum machine/sequencer can out way the need for a drummer; most of the literature refers to the fact that it of course depends on the result you are trying to achieve with your music. Most pop music these days relies on drum machines but other musical genres have no place for drum machines.

“Drum machines work for pop artists but when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll- don’t f-k with the drum human element. Modern production has robbed drummers of the personalities.” Dave Grohl

Drum machines or sequencers are usually shaped like a box with various knobs and buttons to select sound or adjust parameters, traditionally they would feature a library of samples that would be played back in a sequence that was able to be preset or programed by the user. More recently drum machines have become revolutionized by