Bill Collins brings you some rhythms from Africa
Bill Collins solos his way through digital drums on the Amiga and brings you some rhythms d'Afrique
A great CD for anyone trying to come up with new ways of setting the feet tapping is GUEM ET ZAKA Best of Percussion on the Voie d'Afrique label (VA005). Jean Michel, Jean Luc and four other percussionists bash the tumba, conga, bongo, darbouka, tambour, timbales and many more...
Some African style patterns for you this month too. I can also officially close the 'drum battle' competition. Thanks for your tapes, judging now takes place with results in your next issue of Micro Music. Interesting news from our editor this month too: that, according to our reader survey, over a third of you have drum machines. So why aren't you sending in more of your favourite patterns? Seriously wonderful Micro Music T-shirts are up for grabs if you get published.
News of a new 'drum studio' for you on the Commodore Amiga. The Amiga has by far the best internal sound facilities of the current 16 bit machines. Although only four channels, the digital to analogue conversion results in some 'big', realistic sounds compared with the Atari ST or Acorn Archimedes.
Drum Studio benefits from this and the sampled sounds are excellent, especially the cymbals. Two sound sets are provided. While only one set can be played at a time from the function keys, all the sounds can be 'recorded'. And because of the hardware restrictions, only four sounds can be played back instantaneously. This did not cause me any problems as I tapped in a few popular patterns and indeed some quite complex pieces can be created and played back.
As well as a range of hi-hat, ride and crash cymbals, there are snare and tom tom samples which come 'natural' or electronic. Tempo is controlled as beats per minute and a rhythmic pattern can be recorded into 4 beats per bar, 16 beats per bar etc. Each note can have separate qualities of volume and pitch assigned to it.
A pattern is the basic unit and Drum Studio can hold up to 100 of these in memory. Patterns go to make up songs, a simple process of creating and then editing a list of patterns. An existing pattern can be copied over to a different pattern number for the quick generation of variations on a theme.
Keyboard control only which seemed a bit of a backward step on the Amiga and didn't make the Studio all that easy to learn. Dare I say that a combination of mouse parameter adjustment and keyboard pattern entry would perhaps be better? I dare.
The program saves all patterns/songs in memory in one block and automatically reloads the last 'save' when restarted. I'll find it handy for testing out rhythm ideas but wouldn't want to commit too much effort because there is no ability to export the data in any way to a more advanced program.
I repeat, this is non-MIDI software relying only on internal samples. The price reflects this and £6.99 is such good value that everyone with an Amiga should get one just to have fun. It should prove especially useful if you play an instrument, guitar or keyboard and need more sophisticated rhythm backing and your sister isn't a drummer.