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Sound Advice

On The Beat (Part 9)

Article from The Mix, June 1995

Nigel Lord rounds off his series of drum programming tutorials with a mixed bag of complex patterns. Watch this space for his forthcoming series on the history of electronic percussion

If there's any sort of a theme running through this month's crop of patterns, I suppose you'd have to say it is their inherent complexity. Before less experienced programmers decide to quickly turn the page, however, it's worth pointing out that using the grid system that has become almost a standard for rhythm programming, with the most fiendishly complex patterns now approachable in a straightforward, step by step manner. These patterns are no exception. Enter the notes a line at a time, starting from beat one, and you can't really go wrong.

Rhythmically this is a pretty mixed bag, intended to show what can be done with disparate groups of sound woven together to form a collective groove. Because of the limitations of space, the rhythms have been 'telescoped' to an extent, so that each takes up no more than eight bars. The idea is for you to use the patterns as the basis for complete rhythm tracks, moving instrument lines around, so that they occur at musically appropriate times.

Beyond this, there's little more I can say. Get the patterns into your machine and experiment to your heart's content. If you're sampling the sounds off Re:Mix, make sure you include the full decay of each sound, and remember to set up your machine so that on playback, the closed hi-hat sound shuts off the open hi-hat.

Turning to the series as a whole... the number of requests and enquiries have been steadily building up. I'll take the opportunity of dealing with a few of them here, rather than answer each individually.

Firstly, I was asked recently to adapt grid layouts (or at least include conversion diagrams) for programming individual machines — particularly Roland models like the DR660. Unfortunately, these are not machines I'm familiar with, so I can't be of much help. In any case, it would be difficult to know which machines to include and which to leave out. That said, if anyone out there has already carried out such conversions and has any kind of handy diagram they could let us have. I'm sure we could include them in a forthcoming article.

A number of people have also asked that data for the complete patterns be included as MIDI Song Files on Re:Mix each month — as well as the sounds we currently feature. The problem here is one of space; I know our editor faces considerable difficulty finding enough space each month for the data and audio tracks which are already featured, so I'm not sure there would be room for additional material. Also, I would prefer that readers continued to program pattern data by hand, as this is really the only way of developing any kind of understanding of how rhythm is constructed, using individual instruments. Of course, if there proves to be enough support for the idea, we might have to rethink things.

I have had a number of requests for coverage of jungle, ragga and triphop styles, and these are currently in the pipeline. I should, however, point out that they are ostensibly no different from a variety of other rhythmic styles — it's simply a question of context and tempo. I shall explain more fully in the articles themselves.

I have also had many requests for reprints of the original On The Beat series, which extended to some 35 installments in Music Technology magazine between August 89 and July 92. All I can say is all the original material is still there, and if there's enough demand, it may be possible to persuade our publishers to release some sort of compilation — though what form this would take. I can't say at present. Certainly, letters in support of the idea would go a long way towards ensuring its realisation.

And speaking of letters, any further comments on the series or ideas for its future development would be warmly welcomed. By post, I can be reached via the editorial address — or you can email me at (Contact Details).

(Click image for higher resolution version)

(Click image for higher resolution version)

On the RE:MIX CD

The drum sounds that correspond to the On The Beat patterns can be found on the Re:Mix CD

Series - "On The Beat - The Next Generation"

This is the last part in this series. The first article in this series is:

On The Beat
(MX Oct 94)

All parts in this series:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 (Viewing)

More with this topic

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Drum Programming

Previous Article in this issue

Heavy fretting

Next article in this issue

Dream sequences

Publisher: The Mix - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
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The Mix - Jun 1995

Donated by: Colin Potter

Coverdisc: Mike Gorman

Sound Advice


Drum Programming


On The Beat - The Next Generation

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 (Viewing)

Re:Mix #12 Tracklisting:

13 On The Beat kits - 1
14 On The Beat kits - 2
15 On The Beat kits - 3

This disk has been archived in full and disk images and further downloads are available at - Re:Mix #12.

Feature by Nigel Lord

Previous article in this issue:

> Heavy fretting

Next article in this issue:

> Dream sequences

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