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The global electronic drumming e-zine
E-cymbals go hi-tech PRODUCTS New gear at NAMM DRUMSTICKS Which are best for e-drums? TWEAKING GUIDE Your onboard studio
LO C K
PR O F
F O C US : e - dr u m s in wor s h i p
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hart full page
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Theglobalelectronicdrumminge-zine Edition 5
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GEAR New at NAMM New acoustic/electric cymbals, hybrid heads and multipads were among the debuts at the leading music expo.
E-drumming for Him Psalm 50 instructs us to “Praise Him with loud cymbals. Praise Him with crashing cymbals.” Allan Leibowitz explores the rise of e-drumming in churches.
Stick with it Drumsticks represent the ultimate – and intimate - interface between player and instrument. We sample some of the current offerings.
How silent are e-cymbals? How much noise annoys an e-drummer? Scott Holder set out to solve the sonic conundrum.
Pete Lockett’s ethnic percussion has been heard on the last five James Bond movies, but the British drummer is equally comfortable behind a kit. When you think about Irish folk music, you don’t necessarily see much scope for electronic percussion. Unless, of course, you’re Frank Jooss of Fiddler’s Green.
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E-drums rule in Europe Michael Schack looks at how e-drums are shaping the music scene on his home continent.
vst Big names go virtual Two major cymbal makers have turned their hands to e-cymbal sample packs and we put them through their paces.
TweakiNG Your onboard studio The modern drum module offers a range of tools to shape the sounds which e-drummers can produce.
digitalDRUMMER, FEBRUARY 2011
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is published by DigitalDrummer ABN: 61 833 620 984 30 Oldfield Place Brookfield Q 4069 AUSTRALIA Tel: 61 411 238 456 email@example.com www.digitaldrummermag.com Editor & Publisher Allan Leibowitz Sub-Editor Solana da Silva Contributors Simon Ayton Grant Collins Philippe Decuyper Scott Holder Hercules Robinson Michael Schack Cover Photo Zildjian Gen16 Design and layout ‘talking business’ Digital distribution
Copyright: All content is the property of digitalDrummer and should not be reproduced without the prior consent of the publisher. In this age of electronic publishing, it’s obviously tempting to “borrow” other people’s work, and we are happy to share our information – but ask that you work with us if you need anything from this edition. Any reproduction must be fully acknowledged and online dissemination should include a link back to our website.
It’s an interesting time for e-cymbals. When we started planning this edition, we had no idea iconic acoustic cymbal maker Zildjian was poised to enter the market with electronic cymbals. We were aware of its VST offering and include a full review in this issue. We were also aware of further sound vaults about to be released, but the new triggering device was a well-kept secret. We hope to be able to test the real thing in the months ahead and include our findings in the next issue of digitalDrummer. This month, besides the VST review, we also start a series of e-cymbal side-by-side comparisons, thanks to Scott Holder. Scott’s home resembled the cymbal department of a retail store as he assembled most of the current offerings for a range of tests. We kick off with comparisons of stick noise – an important factor for anyone buying egear for silent practice. Sticks also feature in another exhaustive head-to-head review in this issue. We tested a wide range of sticks, looking at how well they were matched, their unique attributes and their “playability”. Drumsticks are, of course, an intensely personal choice, and the review was also not helped by the inconsistency of sizing in the market. One thing’s certain; if you switch brands, make sure you actually try before you buy. We found an enormous difference between the lengths and weights of sticks labeled “A7”, not to mention the confusion unleashed by some of the other naming practices, including the use of player names of genre labels like “jazz”. Our featured artists this month are very different. Pete Lockett is known for his diversity, from Bond movies to Ronan Keating and Sinead O’Connor. But he’s also very active in e-drumming and has some strong views. Frank Jooss, meanwhile, is the drummer for German cult band Fiddler’s Green, and uses external triggers to augment his acoustics. Also a colourful figure, he provides a different perspective on the role of electronics. Michael Schack, who was profiled last year, makes his debut as a columnist this month, with a look at the Euro-scene. Always enthusiastic when he’s discussing e-drums, Schack paints a glowing picture of their future on his home continent. The international flavour of this edition is enhanced by our story about the second international e-drum video collaboration, a project that brought together amateur e-drummers around the world for just under 10 minutes of youtube glory. As a member of that group, I have to share the experience – and hopefully some readers will be inspired to participate in the next one. I’d like to see even more nations represented as well as a broader range of e-percussion instruments. And, on that note, it’s on with the show. One, two, three, four ...
Allan Leibowitz firstname.lastname@example.org
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--contributors-Cast and crew
digitalDrummer is a combined effort, bringing together the expertise and experience of electronic drummers, industry professionals and experienced writers. Here are some of the people who made this edition happen ... SIMON AYTON Simon Ayton is the V-Drums and percussion specialist for Roland Australia. He began drumming in 1983 and trained as an audio engineer. Simon’s drumming can be heard on more than two dozen albums and film soundtracks, ranging from metal to electronic and folk, and he is currently working on two new solo albums. He shares his intimate knowledge of module-tweaking in this edition.
GRANT COLLINS Grant Collins has developed powerful and modern drum set solo performances which have captivated audiences around the world. His instrument is as unique as his creative musical attributes. His one-of-a-kind custom acoustic kit is valued at over $75,000 and takes his team two hours to assemble. When he’s not playing with this giant kit, Collins uses a Pearl ePro Live kit. Collins is our inhouse trainer, providing notation and MIDI instruction.
PHILIPPE DECUYPER Philippe Decuyper, a.k.a. PFozz, is the founder of the Edrum For Free website. He has consulted to Toontrack since 2005, specialising in electronic drums, and is also the founder of eaReckon, a small independent audio software company which launched in 2009 and recently debuted its BIoXpander MIDI solution. PFozz answers readers’ DIY questions in each edition.
SCOTT HOLDER Scott Holder is a former intelligence officer who now works in IT for the US Department of Transportation. Nine years of organ lessons and two of cello in childhood didn’t prepare him for the world of electronic drumming 30 years later. In the past four years, Scott has performed on and helped produce an art rock CD, several Nightwish and Porcupine Tree covers and is currently working on a previously unfinished (and unheard) song by the Alan Parsons Project.
HERCULES ROBINSON Camera-shy Hercules is one of the returnees to drumming after a long layoff and cites the quality of e-drums today as the main reason behind his rekindled passion. A qualified recording engineer whose day job is as an IT Architect, Herc plays a TDW-20 kit and is currently working on a modern jazz CD as both drummer and engineer.
MICHAEL SCHACK Michael Schack is a drummer/producer, playing both acoustic and electronic drums. An international Roland V-Drums demonstrator/clinician, Michael plays with V-Topia, a duo with Swedish synth and rhymes wizz David Ahlund, accompanies Ozark Henry, and recently released his first album as part of SquarElectric. digitalDRUMMER, FEBRUARY 2011
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You want to gig
with that? Even broad-minded musicians are suspicious of e-drums when it comes to gigging. So how can we convince the e-sceptics? Here are some thoughts from industry professionals.
I think to give it a fair chance, it’s important that both the drummer and the rest of the band experience playing together in a good electronic environment. It would be a good introduction to understand the full potential of what using an electronic kit can bring to a band, the audience, and you as a drummer. It is not black and white. Think of electric and acoustic guitars and what is needed in the big picture of doing a gig equipment-wise: to be heard and to get access to sounds, it’s a bit the same. Mal Green, Greensound Music While you will still have a little bit of “electronic” sound to your drums (even if you are using the best of modules), I’ve always found it best to point out 6
the added benefit of using an e-kit: sound control at the source, quick and easy load-in/tear-down, and most importantly, not only do you have the ability to produce sounds of today’s modern music (and some great ‘80s), but you aren’t limited to just a drum kit, you have a full array of percussion, voice and sound effects right at your finger tips. Getting your electronic drums to sound like a “real” kit can be the most difficult aspect. I always “upgrade” my modules with the V Expressions configurations. That is something you can do yourself, but those guys have taken the time to tweak the module sounds and arrange kits that will save you a TON of time. Brian Hope, Hope Drums www.digitaldrummermag.com
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Electronic kits represent a more cost-effective solution than using multiple microphones on an acoustic kit with the necessary outboard gear to achieve the same sound quality. Other advantages include sound variation through multiple drum sets at the touch of a button, control over stage volume, and portability, not the least of which is important to any gigging musician. Peter Hart, Hart Dynamics I can sum it up in three words: “controlling the volume”. Large or small venues, that pretty much sums it up! Billy Blast, drum retailer You can change sound and tones depending on song, you can control the volume and overall intensity, you will always have the best possible sound. With correct monitoring – in-ear, for example - the fellow musicians will hear you more accurately and, as a result, play better. E-drums have lower volume on stage and better sound out front. They take up less space and weigh less. Be sure to use a system that delivers a natural sound of superb quality with a fast response time and great dynamics - that is DrumIt Five. It’s unsurpassed and also
allows ability to edit and upload sounds recorded by the band. Bengt Lilja, 2Box Acoustic drums are not better than electronic drums - or vice versa. I believe that e-drums are still relatively new to the music scene and will be better accepted once eyes are closed and ears are open. It seems to me that someday we will see more and more e-drums sharing the stage with bands all over the world. Johnny Rabb, musician, clinician, stickmaker It’s all in the presentation! Consider designing the sounds and levels on a PA before the band auditions your e-drums. Make it fit your situation. Then, enable a consistent set-up for monitoring that every band member can agree on. Always have redundancy (a back-up plan) on hand. Chris Blood, V Expressions Ltd They sound totally amazing and girls love ‘em (but then, girls love drummers anyway!). Al Adinolfi, Boom Theory
Only one company has the most advanced and powerful drum and percussion controllers. And we’ve been doing it since 1985.