The Rhythm Section
Beatman Bill and the latest percussive pieces of news
Man-Metronome Bill Collins fills (paradiddles) us in on what's goin down in the world of rhythm
Simmons, the name most associated with the professional application of electronic percussion around the world went out of business mid May. Just as I was writing up the Latin percussion sound card for the Trixer and SDS 2000 the bad news arrived.
After the initial phase of enthusiasm, professional drummers, especially in the USA, had started to go back to conventional kits but Simmons had spotted this trend and responded with the Trixer for mixing new and old sounds and their "bugs" which allow kit drums to trigger electronics via MIDI. Investment in the SDX drum computer must have been a drain on resources but the technology was appearing in lower priced units such as the Portakit aimed at the majority of drummers rather than the rich minority.
As we went to press the owners were trying to put together a plan to relaunch the company in some form or other. The rumoured figure is £1.7 million. Here's hoping the independent creators of modern electronic percussion, whose hex pads have been seen with the best of the bongo players, make it back from the other side!
I've just got hold of a great issue of the American Amiga disk magazine Amnews. The "new" Amnews is three disks worth of software, news and comment. Volume One, Issue Four has a very good screen tutorial on programming rhythms with Amiga packages such as Instant Music and Deluxe Music Construction Set. Amnews' resident music editor (the human kind!) has come up with some excellent examples. An excellent purchase at £9.95. Contact Amiga Centre Scotland on (Contact Details) for details and tell 'em the Rhythm Section sent ya!
If you have any hints and tips for a micro based drum machine (hardware or software), favourite patterns or comments on the present state of percussion with a plug on it, then write to me. Bill Collins (no relation) at Micro Music, (Contact Details). And when we publish your work, you'll receive a Micro Music T-shirt. If you don't write in I'll model the T-shirts personally in these pages. That should do it! (please God! let that do it -Ed)
Hum to the tune of "Are you a Bovril body?" Square Dance Audio have come up with a drum programmer for the entire range of Atari STs. It can provide software control for any MIDI instrument capable of uttering something percussive, eg a MT-32, D-110/D-5/D-10/D-20/D-5, SQ-80, M-1 or drum machine.
Drum patterns can be tapped in from the keyboard or via MIDI from pads. Alternatively you can program in step time on an editing grid with keyboard and mouse. Velocity can be recorded and edited freely.
Patterns can be chained into songs in traditional fashion. Cut, copy and paste are available. Mididrummer will read song position pointers for use with SMPTE tape synchronizers. It supports the MIDI-file standard so that finished drum patterns can be loaded into other software packages such as sequencers and music composition packages.
Price is £85.00 inclusive. A demo disk is available from Square Dance for £5.00 inclusive. Details from them at (Contact Details).
Modern microcomputer-based drum sequencers are to drum machines what timpani are to taut skins over a tree log. The big temptation is to use every rhythmic trick in the book, and that's just the first pattern! There are times though when you need to keep it simple and use accents to good effect. Feel free to use the following patterns as inspiration.