Heavenly Music's Beat 'n' Bass
Heavenly Music, the folks who brought you Dr Beat, Ram Jam and other sundry MIDI files now bring you Beat 'n' Bass - a collection of drum, bass and guitar grooves in MIDI file format. There are 50 patterns in total, all very modern, including Rock, Dance, Disco, Funk, Soul and even some Tangos (OK, perhaps not all of them are modern). And though some do not feature a guitar track, a lot do.
The patterns vary in length, some are 12 or 16 bars long but others are over 50. I find long patterns much more useful than those of one or two bars as you can loop sections and extract, cut, copy and paste together the bits you need much faster and easier.
All the instrumental parts (that is the bass and guitar bits) are in the same key. Now wading through 50 sets of patterns all in the key of G can cause severe ear fatigue, but the object of the exercise is to transpose sections of the patterns into suitable keys to follow the chord progression of your tune.
The way to work, I'd suggest, is to concentrate on the drum track. Get that to fit your tune first then transpose the instrumental parts and finally edit them. I know a lot of people actually work out the drum track first and build a song around it - but each to his own. The point is, if your rhythm programming isn't quite as accomplished as you would like, these will save you a lot of time and effort. Same goes for your bass and guitar licks.
As with other Heavenly Music disks, all the parts have been carefully 'fine tuned', quantised where necessary and blissfully humanised where it counts. There are a couple of demo files to put you in the mood, but they don't really show the full potential of the system.
There is a comprehensive Read Me file on the disc which includes a drum map; Heavenly Music favour Roland's U220, although the files are mapped to the MT32. The drums are on channel 10, but you may have to select suitable channels and/or instruments if you have different gear.
And the patterns? Yes, they're grrrreat! I can see me nicking one or two the next time I'm in a hurry. Well, no one's perfect...
Review by Ian Waugh
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