David Ruffy's Drums
Breakin' down the beat
Not only David Ruffy's drums, but also David Ruffy's drumming can be found on this HitSound sample CD, which contains 140 drum loops and 265 single drum hits. Although a few programmed electronic loops have been included, the emphasis is firmly on live acoustic kit playing by Ruffy, an established session musician who has played with artists as diverse as Sinead O'Connor, Mica Paris, Alison Moyet and Aztec Camera.
Many of the loops on the CD are actually one-bar rhythms, which have been cut'n'pasted in the digital domain at the editing stage to create eight-bar loops, though there are also loops which contain fills and variations. All samples on the CD have been level-matched, so you only need to set the input level on your sampler once. Track one of the CD gives you 20 seconds of 1kHz test tone played at maximum level for this very purpose.
Ruffy has provided a rich vocabulary of dance-orientated rhythms for you to draw on, ranging in tempo from 61.9 to 139.5 bpm (every loop is bpm'd with great precision in the accompanying booklet). To give some examples, loops include Swingfill: Straight 4s With Ride Variation, Shuffle Loop With Tambourine, Clean Hippy (!), Clean Swing Loop With Fill, Dance Loop On Eights, Grungy Loop Swing Variation, Funky Laidback, Garage Loop, Ambient Multiloop, Ride Cymbal Layback, Ambient Congas, Manic Bongos, Ballad Offbeat, and Groovy Loop with Cymbal Crash! The overall recorded sound quality is slick, professional, sparkling clean, while the individual kit sounds are crisp and punchy with a contemporary-sounding brashness.
The CD's collection of individual instrument samples covers kicks, snares, toms, hi-hats and cymbals. As mentioned earlier, there are 265 single hits. This isn't to suggest there are 265 different instruments: many of them have been sampled several times in order to capture the timbral nuances produced by hitting a real drum with different strengths and at different positions on its playing surface. You can easily work these variations into your own programmed rhythms by sampling them and assigning them to different MIDI notes or to MIDI velocity splits.
Fourteen samples have been treated with Roland's Sound Space 3D sonic imaging system, but, it has to said, the results aren't particularly impressive. What's more, you need a sampler which can play back stereo samples if RSS is to have any effect at all.
The subject of copyright on the individual drum loops and samples is covered by one ambiguously-worded sentence in the accompanying booklet:"Purchase of this CD entitles the purchaser to use the audio material featured in their music." Er... quite. Presumably, Mr Ruffy won't come knocking on your door if your smash hit single features one of his loops - or one of your own!
If your idea of a good sample CD is Coldcut's Kleptomania! or Norman Cook's Skip To My Loops - in other words, the DJ approach to sampling - David Ruffy's Drums might not be so appealing. There's something much more self-contained about these loops, the sounds are very clean and respectable, and this does tend to make the CD a little lacking in sonic diversity. However, the wealth of rhythm loops on offer provide a great resource for anyone who wants to learn how to put rhythms together. And if you like the idea of working with the sonic nuances of individual drums to create more realistic, natural-sounding rhythm tracks, the single-hit sample variations are a great idea.
Review by Simon Trask
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