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Rhythm Section

Bill Collins has bought a CD player and has already put it to Rhythmic use is Volume two in the Sonic Images series

Digital Drum Master Bill Collins fills us in

Sounds for sampling

The idea of having a whole CD full of high quality percussive sounds sent me dashing round to the high street, one recent Saturday morning, checking out the prices of CD players and trying to recall what features I really needed.

I worried about the various technical 'stickers' such as 'two DAs', '8 times 8 bit oversampling', 'optical digital output', until I read the editorial introduction to a hi-fi mag which stated that the best CD player was the one that sounded best. I thought as much! So, I got the best sounding one with a separate headphone socket because I'd need to monitor the sounds I was sampling, wouldn't I?

The CD in question? Sonic Images' Sample Library - Volume 2, the percussion special. You may have caught the review in Micro Music issue 1 of this product's predecessor, Volume 1, drums, percussion, and musical effects.

There's no doubting the studio quality of the sounds on this CD and of course they are played unhampered by other instruments (except for a brief demo of all the featured instruments on the first track).

Most sampling software allows you to set a volume level at which to trigger a sample. What I wanted to do, was to set this so that each sample could be automatically recorded but of course memory disappears rapidly and you have to save to disk. Perhaps sampling software designers would like to bear this requirement in mind and introduce 'programmable' software so that you can switch on automatic batch sampling while you practise those paradiddles.

In any event, all I had to do was to save each sample to disk and mouse click into automatic again. The CD player's ability to move instantly to an index point on the disk, makes all this pretty easy because the groups of sounds are indexed and appear at regular six second intervals. The surprisingly good holographic CD cover has beneath it, a neat colour shot of the instruments you hear and the all important table of contents, relating the instrument name and type (hi, lo medium etc) to the CD index number.

There are a couple of nice hi-hat and woodsnare sounds plus syndrum and rototom. But the most interesting are the gongs, bells and 'ethnic' percussion such as wood blocks and Chekere, Dondo, Djun and Water Drum. Tambourine, cabasa, quicca, guirca and claves also feature. While for that oriental flavouring, add tamtam, finger cymbal, and Korean drum.

You'll need lots of memory to sample the bell tree, temple bell or windchimes, although I found I could lower the sample rate and still capture some of the subtleties.

The last three (97, 98 and 99) sets of sounds offer five octaves of crotales, six octaves of xylophone and four octaves of marimba. By sampling these separately, you can use a complete instrument made up of numerous samples within a sequencer.

I highly recommend this CD and the 290 samples contained therein. Percussionists can consider themselves lucky that Sonic Images have made their second release entirely appropriate to them. Let's hope this trend continues with a Latin special, Bill Collins clinic, the complete Maureen Tucker drum kit...

Back from the dead

Simmons have found the financial backing they required to make a business comeback once again, as Simmons Digital Music.

The good news is that the product range will consist of the SDS 2000, Trixer, ADT, Drum huggers, SDX Computer and the New Digital Drum Kit. And the other good news is that all past and present warranty agreements will be honoured. And yet more good news, is that finance has been raised to complete further new designs for 1990.

The new names to watch out for are Chairperson and Managing Director Jennifer Mallows, non executive director Daniel Platt and Ronald Nathan, a commercial lawyer, but more importantly a musician and semi-professional drummer.

Contact: Simmons Digital Music (Contact Details).

Drum battle competition

Last chance to enter the competition this month. What competition? The one with the mystery prize! Now, it is no longer a mystery. I, Bill, am generously offering a Micro Music sweat shirt to the monthly winners. So maybe now a few more of you will enter.

Thanks to those readers who have already submitted tapes and had more faith and well done to our winner this month - Lome Balfe of Edinburgh with his selection of three dynamic breaks. Lome used a 1040ST with C-Lab Creator to drive a Roland D-110 and a Simmons SDS-1000. Personalised Sweatshirt winging its way to you.

If you want to enter, all you have to do is send in an (up to 30 seconds) audio tape of a percussion solo developed on a sequencer, drum machine, from MIDI pads or sampled Simmons. We'll be judging your solos on originality as well as technical competence.

Although the competition ends this month I'd be only too glad to hear your efforts on tape anytime and to publicise any electronic eccentricity that might be taking place around the country. And don't forget to keep sending in your sequenced percussion patterns and drum machine ditties.


In the great days of jazz drumming famous practitioners of the art like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa took part in drum battles. No, not something reminiscent of a Who concert but each drummer, in turn, playing a breathtaking solo. You could never say that one drummer or the other had 'won' although every other drummer had their own idea of who was best.

The Rhythm Section hereby announces the modern relaunch of the drum battle - with your micro on the podium and you at the controls!

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Micro Music - Copyright: Argus Specialist Publications


Micro Music - Jan 1990

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Feature by Bill Collins

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