When to work on your “Rhythm”?

illu trumpet

When learning a new piece of music, when should a musician work on getting right the rhythm and feel of the piece?

We have long believed it has to be the very first thing to get right and there’s little point playing notes at all unless they are in the desired rhythm (feel and groove).   Tempo, however, is a whole other subject – there’s a lot to be said for precision and even playing tunes at markedly different tempos to internalize the piece better.

Timing is the bedrock of all music:  “When a note is struck at the wrong time, it’s the wrong note”.

Getting playing in the right rhythm as soon as possible is why we have always sought out structured and inspiring rhythmic backing.  This ultimately lead to  “Song Rhythm Tracks.

Rhythm and Timing

Practice Makes Permanent

One of the most repeated terms used to, and by, musicians is that “practice makes perfect”.   I’ve heard this altered to, “practice makes permanent”. i.e. if we repeat a thing over and over then we do internalize it and it becomes a facility we have “without consciously thinking about it”.  This is why we can do complex coordinated movements without much conscious thought such as driving cars and even using a knife and fork.   If you’ve never done these things in your life before they can be very challenging for the very first time, but once performed daily one doesn’t even recognize them as a challenge anymore.  It’s as if an entirely different part of your mind is assigned to the task.  So, what is important is that we are very selective about using this repetition technique and make sure it affects don’t work against us because if what we are practising is not beneficial then it will get internalized just as readily….   So, practice can make perfect;  It will eventually make permanent, but that permanency can defeat you as well as help you.

Developing your own sense of timing

A key aspect of music is rhythm and timing – it’s what can make music come alive, and it’s what can kill it as well.  It’s essential that we develop good rhythm and timing.

A Pulse!

If you haven’t yet developed the sense of that regular pulse that is present in most modern music – pop, folk, country, jazz – playing along to something with a pulse is of great benefit because wherever your pulse is lacking it will be clearly shown and you will automatically adjust to follow the pulse and keep the timing.  Great: That’s a real win.   My recommendation is to be very selective about the use of metronomes and click-tracks:  There’s more to rhythm than a pulse!

But not just any pulse!

Misuse of Metronomes and click tracks Considered Harmful

Always using a click-track when you practice and when playing together in a group will likely work against developing your own human interaction on the pulse and detract from the rhythmic nuances that end up being beaten out by the demanding, oh-so-regular, ‘click’.  In a similar way also, counting when you are jamming with others will be a problem:  Counting the pulses within the meter, such as 1-and-a, 2-and-a,  is an absolutely invaluable aid when learning a new, perhaps rhythmically challenging melody: I’ve heard it said that if you cannot count a melody or rhythmic idea out, you don’t really know it:  It is great to count it out to ensure we really know it, but once you have internalized that melody, it is time to stop counting it and feel the rhythm and communicate with the others you are playing with without blocking them out by counting in your head.

The Jazz educator Steven Sedergreen in his book, “Start Playing Jazz Piano Now“, writes, “Time and feel are intuitive rather than mechanical. Reliance on mechanical means such as counting and the use of metronomes are poor substitutes for feeling it. Time emanates from within the body and move outwardly, a natural feeling that should not be restricted”.  (chapter 21, para 4) Continue Reading

“Jazz and Blues” Sampler iOS App released by Alive Drumming

illustration sax AndySnitzer

Check out Alive Drumming’s first ‘Sampler’ edition of the ‘Song Rhythm Tracks (SRT)’ iOS App, the “Jazz and Blues Sampler“.

Jazz and Blues Sampler has the same facilities as the standard App but comes pre-installed with 20+ Jazz and Blues arrangements and an allocation of 4 downloads for your own arrangements (more are available via In-App Purchasing).  What an opportunity to sample some arrangements of these well known standards before using the App for your own arrangements!   It’s the same Song Rhythm Tracks App with the latest graphics and facilities.

Price Reduced for a limited time!

Alive Drumming have reduced this App’s price for a limited time after which it returns to full pricing.  This is a great opportunity to try out this heralded rhythm track arranger at no cost.   Try the Jazz and Blues standards and arrange some more tracks for whatever tunes you are playing currently.  There’s a vast selection of authentic rhythms from talented artists across many genres in addition to Jazz and Blues.

The Tracks

Song For My Father” – 4 choruses of 24-bar AAB (as 8|8/8 bars) with no intro’ and no ending, using a Rock Bossa at 140 bpm
The Way You Look Tonight” – 3 choruses of 68-bar AABC (as 16|16/16|20 bars) with an 8-bar intro’ and no ending, using a modern Jazz rhythm at 210 bpm

Continue Reading

Originally posted 2018-02-07 14:34:53.

More Audio Samples Released

drummer's hands

Check out the Audio Samples page for more of the thousands of rhythms available.

Audio samples are provided in many different formats –

For the best experience selecting all possible combinations of rhythms and Song Form, as well as a great player and setlist manager, download our Apple iOS App on the App Store.

 

Originally posted 2017-12-06 18:18:41.

The Primacy of Rhythm in practicing popular music

hands on bongos

When learning a new piece of music, when should a musician work on getting right the rhythm and feel of the piece?

Introduction

I have long believed it has to be the very first thing to get right and there’s little point playing notes at all unless they are in the desired rhythm and feel.   Tempo, however, is a whole other subject – there’s a lot to be said for precision and even playing tunes at markedly different tempos to internalize the piece better.

Timing is the bedrock of music:  “When a note is struck at the wrong time, it’s the wrong note”.  Getting playing in the right rhythm as soon as possible is why I’ve always sought out structured and inspiring rhythmic backing.  This ultimately lead to  “Song Rhythm Tracks“. Continue Reading

Originally posted 2017-08-16 00:50:46.

iOS App, Song Rhythm Tracks, now available on the Apple App Store.

Bop Jazz Drummer B&W

 

Alive Drumming has released it’s Apple iOS app, Song Rhythm Tracks.  It is now available in the Apple App Store at

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/songform-rhythm-tracks/id1254346877?ls=1&mt=8

If you are interested in reviewing this app please email [email protected]

 

Originally posted 2017-08-11 19:35:22.

“Song Rhythm Tracks” – A Comparison

iPhone X

Song Rhythm Tracks” is Alive Drumming’s mobile Musician’s App providing production-ready rhythmic backing.  It is available on the Apple iOS App Store.

Alive Drumming brings musicians production-quality rhythmic backing, in it’s most convenient form — a mobile App to select, download and play Alive Drumming’s “Song Rhythm Tracks”.

Song Rhythm Tracks

Song Rhythm Tracks are a new type of backing track composed entirely of rhythmic backing (no melody or harmony) arranged to the musical form of the song — it’s “songform”. These tracks are complete performances like one gets from a professional drummer. They have a count-in, introduction section, choruses and characteristic endings, framed by fills showing where sections start and end. Even musical bridges and middle choruses have higher intensity where appropriate to the style. All this without a typical arranger’s interface thereby keeping it simple. One can select a track in under 30 seconds — under 15 seconds once one gets the hang of it.

The App’s player has tempo adjustment and a facility to sequence the tracks for your gig or jam session. It is for musicians of all abilities. New musicians use the App to provide an accompaniment to songs. They get a rhythm that is sympathetic so they learn to keep time, get into the groove and internalise the song’s musical structure – All this while enjoying engaging and inspiring rhythms. Gigging musicians catalogue their backing into setlists and use it to guide performance. Having quality rhythmic backing, with a setlist facility and a musician’s player, all in the one App is so convenient one finds oneself using this rhythmic backing more and more.

Musician’s Player

A “Musician’s Player” — what’s that? One that dims the screen, will play in the background, has good-sized buttons and allows you to change the volume with the physical buttons. Yes, that but this player also displays the musical form of the track such as

“4 choruses of 32 bars of standard AABA form (8|8/8|8) 
with no intro’ and a 4-Bar ending”, 

and provides visual tracking against this as it plays. This is the information musicians want right before they are about to play a track. If they start to lose their place a bit while they play, a quick glance at the display will likely get them back “on track” again.

Massive Library of Rhythms

There’s a huge number of rhythms and endless musical forms for your songs. Once selected, the arranged track is downloaded from Alive Drumming’s servers and then it stays on your device for playing. Alive Drumming grants the user rights to remix the track so they may be transferred to a computer to be included in the user’s own compositions and album releases.
Continue Reading

Alive Drumming Releases 3.0 – The Giant Panda release of Song Rhythm Tracks

The Giant Panda, “User-Requests” Release – 3.0

The community asked; Alive Drumming listened.

Always Yours:

Your arrangements, in your language, designed for your device.
– Free Audio samples available on our website and YouTube

 

Alive Drumming Continues To Innovate

This is a significant release for Song Rhythm Tracks, bringing much more functionality and more stability.  Search has really matured allowing for track duplication during search and, on search completion, auto-browse to last track accessed.  These two features really assist those with large collections of tracks in a very common use-case – searching for a song by name, playing it, and then deciding to create a duplicate and edit the duplicate for an alternative arrangement.

Drumming Holds

Drumming Holds – or breaks – is where the drumming stops for a bar.  It adds drama to a drum arrangement and some songs have very characteristic breaks – “Song For My Father” and “I Get A Kick Out of You” come to mind.  It’s now possible to add these holds to your arrangements as part of a user-defined arrangement.  The screen-shot shows three holds added to an arrangement of “Song For My Father” providing the characteristic holds for this song.  These bars will start with a drum hit and hold off playing until the next bar is started. They will do that at the selected bars, 6, 14, and 22, for each chorus of the song.

Drumming Pushes

Pushes are where an extra drum hit is added, slightly earlier than expected, to push along the rhythm.   Their selection works in a similar manner to holds.  Select the location and press the pink “+” button to add it to the table.  Entries may be removed from the table by swiping left.  The selected location will receive an extra drum hit, an 8th-note early to push the rhythm along.   The location of pushes may use bar-numbers, in the same way as holds, but also beat numbers and sub-divisions.

The Focus Remains on a Simple Arrangement Philosophy

It is pleasing to note that Alive Drumming is in no way moving away from their original philosophy of a truly simple arrangement interface – where a description is preferred over users needing to prescribe each step of the arrangement process.  We describe what holds and where they are to occur, and that’s it.  We keep it as simple as possible.   This is not going to change.   Song Rhythm Tracks are arranged for their users by Alive Drumming who anticipate their users “just want to play their songs” and don’t want to play the drums.  Users simply want to benefit from great drumming.

Setlist Sharing Facilities

A great new feature for the Giant Panda, also requested by users, is the Setlist Sharing Facilities.  They work in a similar manner to track sharing.  Users may share their setlists by name by pressing the share button once a setlist list name has been entered.  This is accessible on the setlist configuration page, which is where you name setlists.  Once shared, that setlist can be searched for and retrieved by any Song Rhythm Tracks user, and when found the setlist gets populated with all the tracks in the shared setlist. Again, it is the name of the setlist that is the key to both sharing and searching for setlists, and this name must be an exact match (other than upper and lower case).  The tracks are populated into your device’s setlist in the ‘deferred‘ state, meaning that the definition of the track is complete but it has not yet been requested for download.  The track-lists of all the existing ‘Sampler’ iOS apps have been shared as setlists making it so convenient to retrieve a list and then select the particular track you wish to download.

Available Now

Version 3.0, Song Rhythm Tracks is now available in the Apple App Store at

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/songform-rhythm-tracks/id1254346877?ls=1&mt=8

We would love you to review this App – If you are interested please email [email protected]

 

Alive Drumming’s Smart Web Services with Elixir, Phoenix and GCP

Ever wondered what technology lies behind Alive Drumming’s smart web services? Here’s the gist –

Alive Drumming‘s smart web services have been engineered in the Elixir programming language.  The web service supplies Alive Drumming’s fully arranged rhythm tracks constructed from multiple takes of long-form audio of very talented drummers.

Simply put, this service

  1. Parses a web request,
  2. Determines the arrangement structure of the requested track,
  3. Creates the audio-engineering scripts to splice slices of the long-form audio into the result, and finally,
  4. Executes these scripts, delivering the resulting audio as the output of the service.

Language Compiler as Web Service

Much of this is textual lexical analysis and classic compiler design as the track description is a simple LR1 language, and the ejected audio-engineering scripts are optimised with a peep-hole optimisation phase. Step 3 above, “Creating the audio-engineering scripts“, additionally involved parsing textual meta-data relating to the long-form audio’s location of differing drumming intensities, fills, pre- and post- fills, drumming breaks, pushes, count-ins and endings. Each of these has multiple ‘takes’ and algorithms apply weighting in pseudo-random selections. Initially, languages strong in textual manipulation were considered with the early algorithms prototyped in GAWK, but it became clear a language suitable for massively scalable web-services was needed.   Continue Reading

Smart Music Creation

painting femaleJazzGroup

What’s meant by “Smart Music Creation”?

Smart” often means that technology has been added to something that previously had not had it.

With ‘music’, the term ‘digital‘ has been used for the distribution of consumer music in a ‘digital form‘ – Audio-CD, mini-discs, DAT and later the revolution of online distribution through the iTunes Music Store.

Smart Music Creation‘ could perhaps be considered to be where computerized devices help with the creation of music – the synthesizer, the drum machine, and MIDI generally. Drum Machines and Synthesizers are really new musical instruments lending themselves to new musical sounds and therefore new genres of music. That’s not smart really, it is just a different type of instrument.

Enter – Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)

The MIDI platform has been around for 30 years or more and deserves the name ‘Smart’.   It automates the playing of the instruments by encoding and reproducing the act of playing
that  note,
on  that  instrument
with  that  intensity
precisely at  that  time.

That’s not just a new type of instrument, it is a way of codifying the playing of any and all instruments. Complete orchestral scores have been codified and rendered with MIDI. Great performances have been captured using MIDI recording. MIDI doesn’t have to mean sub-standard music – it can, if used with care, mean superb musicianship and great music production. Unfortunately, too many substandard performances have been codified and rendered with MIDI, leading to bad experiences and a bad reputation for the technology.

Enablement versus Truly Smart Music Creation

MIDI is a great enabler.

We shouldn’t blame MIDI for what we have, and haven’t, done with it over the last 3 decades. For truly ‘Smart Music’ what we need is to go further, more intimately marrying technology with music production.

incredibleTrumpet
incredibleTrumpet

The innovator – Band-In-A-Box

The first, mass-adoption innovation from MIDI was the song-based accompaniment application – PG Music’sBand-In-A-Box” available on PCs and Macs. This delivered on its promise of providing tailored accompaniment for songs. It helps students understand the form of the songs they play and to provide backing music for enjoying and learning new songs. Importantly, the interface or ‘language’ of the application is that of traditional music notation and concepts. It doesn’t rewrite musical terminology, it adopts it and extends what can be done with it. Band-In-A-Box truly is Smart Music Creation.
Continue Reading

Alive Drumming’s favourite Frequently  Asked  Questions  (FAQ)

We have hand-picked some of our favourite  F.A.Q.s about Alive Drumming and Song Rhythm Tracks.


Why do these Song Rhythm Tracks sound so great?

They do, don’t they! And for a number of reasons:

  1. Great Recordings of Great Drummers – Song Rhythm Tracks are arranged from careful studio recordings of excellent drummers.  They are not constructed from midi files fitting together “samples” from single drum hits to form a mechanical style but rather multiple longer-form full recordings by top studio drummers, lasting from up to 8 bars at a time where you hear subtle drum rolls, variations in ride cymbal taps, complex fills and more.  The rhythmic style comes from talented drummers that are very experienced in that particular style be it Reggae, Salsa, Bossa, Rumba, Tango, Rock, Country, Jazz, Pop, Celtic, Praise & Worship, Blues, and lots more!
  2. There is natural variety promoted over the repeats.  That is a number of recordings of, say, a fill or shot are taken and selectively chosen while sequencing and engineering the final audio.  This provides the natural variety one gets with drummers.  It helps prevent the drumming becoming monotonous and repetitive.
  3. The drummer is spelling out many aspects of the song’s form as (s)he plays.  This might have a larger contributor than one might imagine.  It is what real drummers do, but drumming software rarely does.   The drumming is indicating
    • When you are returning to the ‘top of the form’ again
    • When your sections are ending and starting again
    • When you are starting or finishing a bridge section
    • Whether you are playing a middle chorus or, alternatively, the first or last chorus.   This not only helps you keep place while you are playing but it makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable to listen to, or play along with.

All this takes a lot of careful preparation and curation, huge storage, and sophisticated algorithms.   We feel this cannot be achieved on mobile devices themselves which is why our solution involves our cloud servicesworking with the mobile App.


Could you give me some examples of Song Forms?

Song Forms for a number of songs are here


Your drumming audio is dry! Will Alive Drumming, or can I, add reverb?

Alive Drumming’s Song Rhythm Tracks  are supplied without  reverb (aka “dry”). We are endeavouring to make our iOS app Apple inter-app audio (IAA) compliant.  When it is, you will be able to use other, 3rd party app’s to add reverb to the audio.  See this youtube video for some of them in action.


Is Alive Drumming supporting my country or region?

globe
globe

Alive Drumming aims to cover all regions, countries, languages, and cultures, embracing a wide diversity of rhythms is what we are all about.  If we haven’t adopted yours yet, we almost certainly aim to in the future.  If you want yours to be supported now, why not contact us at [email protected]mming.org


What song forms does Alive Drumming support?

We support all the popular, essential song forms by name – 12 bar blues, 16 bar tunes, 32-bar A1A2 and 32-bar AABA, and about 30 other less common also by name.    The list is increasing!  We also support selecting these same song forms using stick notation instead of names.  This simply specifies section lengths in bars, for example, ‘8|8/8|8’, where ‘bridge‘ sections are preceded by a ‘/’ instead of ‘|’. Additionally, we support users defining their own forms via stick notation, including repeats, and concatenation of up to four (4) parts.  This allows for a truly huge flexibility, enough to describe any song’s form.   See this user guide for more information,  Song Rhythm Tracks.


What rhythms are available for Song Rhythm Tracks?

The app currently supports about 60 different distinct rhythm categories, which includes about 250 distinct rhythms.  Of these, most are available with differing instrumentation such as ‘rim’ shots or, say, wooden blocks, and many at multiple tempos.  In all over 3,700 different rhythm track recordings are available that can be applied to a song form.   The app makes selection of one of these 3,700+ recordings easy by providing filtering on a musical meter (say 4/4 or 3/4 time), and feel (even or straight, 8th or 16th notes).
Here is a tiny sample of the styles represented:

For a full list of all rhythms and sub-rhythms see the page catalog-rhythmic-styles.


How can I use the Song Rhythm Tracks? What’s my licence?

Alive Drumming grants license to remix its tracks.  That is, you can take the Song Rhythm Tracks audio, mix with your own content, and sell that mix as your own work without paying a fee to Alive Drumming.
Alive Drumming prohibits resale or redistribution of its un-mixed, original Song Rhythm Tracks.  You cannot sell or give away these tracks unless you mix them into a new creative piece of work.
Alive Drumming appreciates artistic attribution but does not require attribution in your remixed works.  You do not need to attribute Alive Drumming for the rhythm track in your remixed original work but if you wish to please add, “rhythm track supplied by Alive Drumming (c)” and include a reference to this website.


How can I get these Song Rhythm Tracks? Are they available on Amazon or iTunes?

The tracks are available via Apple iOS mobile App and will later be available via an Android mobile app.
The huge permutations of song forms and rhythms available means the traditional audio file distribution channels of iTunes and Amazon do not fit this new medium of Song Rhythm Tracks.
In particular, Amazon and iTunes do not accommodate the additional assistance that is required for musician’s to select the appropriate track.
Alive Drumming has no plans to market these tracks on legacy media such as Audio CDs or DAT tape.


Who is Song Rhythm Tracks for?

All Musicians!   New Musicians;    Experienced Musicians;     Great Musicians;
Really, any musician including Pianists, Guitarists, Horn Players, Singers and even Drummers.
The tracks can be used for practice, performance and cutting a release.
To learn more about their benefit in practice, using the Song Rhythm Tracks app, see the news articles,
When to work on your rhythm?

How to practice, then how to jam

Why songform with rhythm tracks?


Would Alive Drumming include this extra rhythm?

If we don’t already include a particular rhythm, we would like to work with a drummer to include it.  This involves making high-quality audio recordings of the drumming at multiple tempos including multiple shots and fills used in turnarounds.   The audio recording will be analysed to identify where the various aspects occur and the preference level of each occurrence.   This is the basis for Alive Drumming to incorporate additional rhythms into their Song Rhythm Tracks.    If you are a drummer and have a rhythm you’d like to be represented please email [email protected]


What’s Alive Drumming’s policy on privacy?

Alive Drumming takes personal privacy very seriously.  We are committed to proactively protecting the privacy of our customers by not storing any personal information unless it is absolutely required, and should that be the case, it will always be protected by strong encryption.  We will never sell or otherwise disclose any personal, private or confidential information we hold on others.


How can I learn about song form?

Song form is based on the concept that every song has been composed around a musical form or structure.   Popular song often chooses simple forms as a basis for a song but forms can be more complex as well.
A good reference on song form (structure) is the Wikipedia article,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_structure

Alive Drumming wants to provide you with the easiest and most reliable methods to describe song form.
Song Form may be selected using both (i) traditional names such as ’16-bar Tune’, or (ii) the  ‘stick notation’ equivalent of ‘4|4|4|4’ if that is what you prefer.
For full information on Alive Drumming’s Song Rhythm Tracks mobile app and it’s flexibility in identifying Song Forms see the page, Song Rhythm Tracks

You may describe any Song Form with “user-defined” Song Forms in the mobile app, and for popular tunes, searching for a user-contributed Song Form for that song, again within the mobile app.   There are now tens of thousands of these being shared.


Song Rhythm Tracks

are a new type of backing track composed entirely of rhythmic backing (no melody or harmony) arranged to the musical form of the song — it’s “songform”. These tracks are complete performances like one gets from a professional drummer. They have a count-in, introduction section, choruses and characteristic endings, framed by fills showing where sections start and end. Even musical bridges and middle choruses have higher intensity where appropriate to the style. All this without a typical arranger’s interface thereby keeping it simple. One can select a track in under 30 seconds — under 15 seconds once one gets the hang of it.

The App’s player has tempo adjustment and a facility to sequence the tracks for your gig or jam session. It is for musicians of all abilities. New musicians use the App to provide an accompaniment to songs. They get a rhythm that is sympathetic so they learn to keep time, get into the groove and internalise the song’s musical structure – All this while enjoying engaging and inspiring rhythms. Gigging musicians catalogue their backing into setlists and use it to guide performance. Having quality rhythmic backing, with a setlist facility and a musician’s player, all in the one App is so convenient one finds oneself using this rhythmic backing more and more.

Song Rhythm Tracks are truly high-quality rhythmic backing that is convenient to select and play. You are not going to get tired of these backing tracks. You are not going to have to sequence anything. You will find that the player and setlist’s user-interface encourages continued use. You will get to appreciate the form of your songs more and you might include these tracks into your own single and album releases.

Whether you are learning a new tune, jamming, gigging or cutting your latest album, this Song Rhythm Tracks provides a solution.

Check out samples of the audio at Alive Drumming’s Samples page

Check out these articles from Alive Drumming that give further insights into the thinking behind the product –

When to work on your rhythm?

How to practice, then how to jam

Why songform with rhythm tracks?

Download the Song Rhythm Tracks App on the Apple App Store

Try Alive Drumming’s sampler apps to sample previously arranged tracks of popular tunes. It is then easy to use the app to adjust these to your practice and performance requirements. All the sampler apps are the same Song Rhythm Tracks app but with the included sample tracks.

 

Why do these Song Rhythm Tracks sound so totally great?

drummer AJAZZGO2017

These Song Rhythm Tracks do sound totally great, don’t they?

This is one of the most frequent things I hear.  The great sound quality often comes as surprise, perhaps because of the widespread familiarity everybody has with ‘Midi Drum Machines‘, which don’t satisfy in the same way as Song Rhythm TracksMidi Drum Machines and Song Rhythm Tracks are two very different products; we summarize their differences in the comparison section below.

The Song Rhythm Tracks Way

Song Rhythm Tracks
Song Rhythm Tracks

Here are the three top reasons why we believe these tracks are so great to jam to, to gig to, and to cut records to.

One – Great Recordings of Great Drummers – Song Rhythm Tracks are arranged from careful studio recordings of excellent drummers.

They are not constructed from midi files fitting together “samples” from single drum hits to form a mechanical style but rather multiple longer-form full recordings by top studio drummers, lasting from up to 8 bars at a time where you hear subtle drum rolls, variations in ride cymbal taps, complex fills and more.  The rhythmic style comes from talented drummers that are very experienced in the particular style be it Reggae, Salsa, Bossa, Rumba, Tango, Rock, Country, Jazz, Pop, Celtic, Praise & Worship, Blues, and lots more!

Two – There is natural variety promoted over the repeats.

That is, a number of recordings of all aspects of playing, fills, post-fills, shots and more are taken and selectively chosen while sequencing and engineering the final audio.  This provides the natural variety one gets with drummers.  It helps prevent the drumming becoming monotonous and repetitive.

Three – The arrangement is always spelling out aspects of the song’s form.

This might have a larger contribution than one might imagine.  It is what real drummers do, but drumming software rarely does.   The drumming is indicating

  1. When you are returning to the ‘top of the form’ again
  2. When your sections are ending and starting again
  3. When you are playing a bridge section
  4. Whether you are playing a middle chorus or, alternatively, the first or last chorus.   This not only helps you keep place while you are playing but it makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable to listen to, or play along with, as well.

All this takes a lot of careful preparation, curation, huge storage, and sophisticated algorithms.   We feel this cannot be achieved on mobile devices themselves which is why our solution involves cloud services working with the mobile App. Continue Reading

“Afro-Cuban Salsa” Sampler iOS App released by Alive Drumming

PaintingCoupleDancing

Afro-Cuban Salsa Sampler is the new Song Rhythm Tracks sampler App from Alive Drumming providing the same great rhythm tracks arranger with 20+ included sample arrangement tracks of Afro-Cuban Salsa staples.

 

 

Afro-Cuban Salsa Sampler has the same facilities as the standard Song Rhythm Tracks App but comes pre-installed with 20+ Afro-Cuban Salsa arrangements and an allocation of 4 downloads for your own arrangements (with more are available via In-App Purchasing).  What an opportunity to sample some arrangements of these great Afro-Cuban rhythms before using the App for your own arrangements!   It’s the same Song Rhythm Tracks App with all the latest facilities.

Launch Special – Price Reduced to Minimal for a limited time!

en US iPhone 8 Plus 03 MainTableScreen framed
en US iPhone 8 Plus 03 MainTableScreen framed

Alive Drumming have reduced this App’s price to a minimal level for a limited time after which it returns to full pricing.  This is a great opportunity to try out this heralded rhythm track arranger at no cost and get into creating your own arrangements of the world’s greatest Song Rhythm Tracks, using Alive Drumming’s vast library of artist’s authentic interpretations.  Try the Afro-Cuban Salsa standards and arrange some more tracks for whatever tunes you are currently playing.  There’s a vast selection of authentic rhythms from talented artists across many genres in addition to Afro-Cuban Salsa.

The Tracks


La Gloria eres tu” – A single chorus of a user-defined form (as 4|8|8|8|12 bars) with no intro’ or ending sections and using a Bolero rhythm at 105 bpm

Samba For Carmen”2 choruses of a user-defined form (as 16|16|8 bars) with an 8-bar intro’ and a 6-bar ending, using a Samba rhythm with both drums and percussion at 190 bpm

Continue Reading

“Old Country Music” Sampler iOS App released by Alive Drumming

country music

Old Country Music Sampler is the new Song Rhythm Tracks sampler App from Alive Drumming providing the same great rhythm tracks arranger with 20+ included sample arrangements tracks of Old Country Music staples.

 

 

Old Country Music Sampler has the same facilities as the standard Song Rhythm Tracks App but comes pre-installed with 20+ Country Music arrangements and an allocation of 4 downloads for your own arrangements (more are available via In-App Purchasing).  What an opportunity to sample some arrangements of these well known standards before using the App for your own arrangements!   It’s the same Song Rhythm Tracks App with all the latest facilities.

Stop the Press – Free for a limited time!

en US iPhone 8 Plus 03 MainTableScreen framed
en US iPhone 8 Plus 03 MainTableScreen framed

Alive Drumming have reduced this App’s price to ‘free’ for a limited time after which it returns to full pricing.  This is a great opportunity to try out this heralded rhythm track arranger at no cost.   Try the Old Country Music standards and arrange some more tracks for whatever tunes you are playing currently.  There’s a vast selection of authentic rhythms from talented artists across many genres in addition to Country Music.

The Tracks

Raining In My Heart” – 2 choruses of 32-bar AABA form (as 8|8/8|8 bars) with a 4-bar intro’ and a 4-bar ending, using a Country ballad groove at 85 bpm

All I Have To Do Is Dream” – 2 choruses of 32-bar AABA form (as 8|8/8|8 bars) with a 4-bar intro’ and no ending, using a Country ballad groove at 85 bpm

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Song Rhythm Tracks – Users’ Testimonials

Every musicians view

We canvassed some opinions from social media.  It is always interesting to see how others view Song Rhythm Tracks.  See what you think.

No.1 for Musician’s Usability

      Ethan – Kyoto, Japan. Sax player. Plays pop, rock, blues, jazz, bop, ballads, everything really

Ethan Algan
Ethan Algan

IMMEDIATE MUSICIAN’S USABILITY.   What’s different about this App is that it makes it feasible for the average guy, with very little effort, to play their songs to very engaging arranged rhythm tracks. I’ve tried lots of them and I haven’t come across any other app that comes close to that. This app combines a musician’s player, a setlist manager and an arranger in the one app. It’s really quick to select arrangements and then you can put them into setlists and keep changing and reordering the lists as your set evolves. Now I just grab my sax’ and my mobile phone and either play a setlist or quickly search and find tracks as I go through my books of lead sheets. If I don’t have a track for a tune, a minute later I will have and will probably be playing it. For me, there’s nothing else that has this sort of immediate musician’s usability.

Maverick and a True Innovator for the practical musician

          Sandra –  Perth, Australia. Plays guitar. Likes folk music.

Sandra Sutton
Sandra Sutton

TRUE INNOVATION.  What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Only perhaps that this App is a true innovator. A maverick you might say. It seems to do everything differently. It wasn’t what I was expecting but now everything else I’ve tried seems redundant. What do you really want to do? To play with flashing lights – pretending to be hitting real drums? Or to get an MP3 file which is a professional quality backing track to a song you are playing? That, I think, is the innovation. That’s what you get here. It’s like a cross between the ‘Music’ App and a musician’s backing-track service. You select the track you want and the Alive Drumming servers get you it. Then you have much more musician-friendly setlists and player than you get with the ‘Music’ App. Playing becomes a real joy instead of struggle. It’s what all of us musicians want. We want to play our instruments and have great rhythmic backing with a minimum of fuss and bother. That’s what this App delivers. A true innovation for the musician.

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More Audio Samples now available on HearThis.At

HearThis.At

Alive Drumming hosts some sample Song Rhythm Tracks and a user-contributed mixes group at HearThisAt, the audio hosting service providing great user and social facilities.  Please contribute your own mixes to the Song Rhythm Tracks User Group at HearThisAt.

Hear this set of sample Jazz and Blues Song Rhythm Tracks at HearThisAt

Here this group of user-contributed mixes using Song Rhythm Tracks at HearThisAt

How to practice, then how to jam?

illustration WyntonMarsalis

Here are my views on how to go about practicing and jamming.

This is such an important part of the journey of becoming a musician. I wrote this down for the benefit of a musician just setting out on his journey, wanting to know what the key things were that would determine their success.  I know I certainly did not go about it the right way for many years.  I had not had any musical education as a child, but as an adult when learning music for the first time, had the benefit of a private teacher but never really addressed this important issue.

Learning Melodies in Private Practice

If you are learning a new, perhaps challenging, melody for the first time, in private practice, then sure, do count out the meter and use a metronome / click-track selectively and judiciously to check your timing, but, as soon as you’ve confirmed you’ve got it, asap stop forever using the metronome or click track on that tune and don’t use it again for that piece of music, because what was once aiding you to get better rhythmically will now limit your rhythmic feel and hold you back.

When Jamming or Gigging with Other Musicians

“Let the Melody by your guide”.

Every musicians view
Every musicians view

When jamming or gigging, don’t count in your head.  By this time you should have internalized the song by private practice and be ready to communicate it with others and counting will detract from listening.

If you have the melody in your mind while performing and improvising it will help you keep place without any need to count.  Also, where there is a pause in the melody, supplement with your own melody to help with this.  For example, if the melody has a two bar rest then filling that rest with your own ‘fill melody’ will support using the melody to keep the place in the tune.   Keeping the melody in your head will be the least distraction while listening to the other players unless your sense of rhythm and timing is so good and you are so tight with the other band members that you don’t need even that.  If you are struggling to keep your place then a strong hold on the melody can be the best thing to help this.

 

When Practicing Alone or With Others

What to do when you are playing the tune over regularly to internalize it before you play it with others, or even if you never get to play with others?

Professional musician backing tracks

Firstly,  it is important to get a sense of the form of the music, and secondly, it would be good also to always practice and play, in the rhythmic style of the piece.   Consider an unrealistic, optimum situation were a real human band of experienced musicians who know the piece well already are in your practice studio ready to jam along to.  They will also need to accommodate you by stopping and starting at your command.  That concept has been best addressed by professional musician backing tracks supplied by vendors such as ‘Aebersold’.  They are a great option, but not always a practical one.   If you have purchased one of these, and it includes your tune, in key and style and similar tempo you will be playing it with your band, then, great, do include playing along to it as part of this practice.   It can be really enjoyable and allows one to practice improvisation with the aural checks on harmony and form you would not otherwise have.  That is if you improvise over the form and drop a bar or forget a chord change you should hear that and be able to correct it.

Play with the Greats!

Another great option is to play along to artist’s performances of the tune.  Say you are learning Autumn Leaves and you have recordings of it by various artists in your record collection, then put on those recordings and play along, ‘accompanying’ with chords or a baseline, depending on your instrument.  You are interacting with top musicians who are undoubtedly playing the piece well – nothing you internalize there will be as lifeless and damaging as a click-track.  I believe at this time when you are playing and internalizing a tune, it is important to practice it in as many ‘practice formats’ as possible.  Those previously mentioned and also, playing alone the melody by itself, and then the melody and the baseline, then play the baseline and sing the melody, then play the chords and sing the melody, then play the chords and play the melody together.  Do you get the idea? The more variety of ways you hear and perform the tune the better your aural knowledge of it becomes.  Many great educators give this advice and it really works.

Getting into the groove!

So, what about rhythm and timing when you are doing this?  I think the best option is to have a rhythm backing track playing that does not have the baseline or chords but does represent the musical form of the piece, where sections start and end, where the energy changes as the performance moves to a bridge (or “middle-8”) sections and to/from middle choruses, which are generally the place for improvisations, and even where four-bar phrases occur etc.   If this rhythmic backing is also alive and human and responding to the musical form the song rather than metronomic and repetitive in its delivery, and is in the rhythmic style you will be playing the piece, you not only have a great foundation for learning the piece but also a hugely enjoyable one as well.

Click-tracks consider harmful

Essentially, it’s the same argument that went for playing along to click tracks.  A click track may expose many faults you may have with the meter and your placement of the chords, your baseline or melody, but it will also install a deadening of the other rhythmic aspects that should be happening and importantly it will not outline the form of the song.  The negatives of the click-track I think actually outweighs the positives.   I suggest never using a click track at this stage; rather use a Song Rhythm Track that has a great sense of rhythm from the audio of real drummers playing real drums in the style you will be playing it and will outline the song form of the song you are learning.  This is a good idea even if you perform in a drummer-less ensemble.  One can always additionally practice the piece without rhythmic backing to ensure one can maintain one’s own sense of rhythm and timing without the backing track, but it’s good to get a start from great rhythmic backing first.  So, how to get great-sounding, human backing tracks in the musical form of your song? There are now Song Rhythm Tracks from Alive Drumming providing exactly that.

Song Rhythm Tracks

Song Rhythm Tracks are a new type of backing track composed entirely of rhythmic backing (no melody or harmony) arranged to the musical form of the song — it’s “songform”. These tracks are complete performances like one gets from a professional drummer. They have a count-in, introduction section, choruses and characteristic endings, framed by fills showing where sections start and end. Even musical bridges and middle choruses have higher intensity where appropriate to the style. All this without a typical arranger’s interface thereby keeping it simple. One can select a track in under 30 seconds — under 15 seconds once one gets the hang of it.

The App’s player has tempo adjustment and a facility to sequence the tracks for your gig or jam session. It is for musicians of all abilities. New musicians use the App to provide an accompaniment to songs. They get a rhythm that is sympathetic so they learn to keep time, get into the groove and internalise the song’s musical structure – All this while enjoying engaging and inspiring rhythms. Gigging musicians catalogue their backing into setlists and use it to guide performance. Having quality rhythmic backing, with a setlist facility and a musician’s player, all in the one App is so convenient one finds oneself using this rhythmic backing more and more.

Song Rhythm Tracks are truly high-quality rhythmic backing that is convenient to select and play. You are not going to get tired of these backing tracks. You are not going to have to sequence anything. You will find that the player and setlist’s user-interface encourages continued use. You will get to appreciate the form of your songs more and you might include these tracks into your own single and album releases.

Whether you are learning a new tune, jamming, gigging or cutting your latest album, this Song Rhythm Tracks provides a solution.

Check out samples of the audio at Alive Drumming’s Samples page

Check out these articles from Alive Drumming that give further insights into the thinking behind the product –

When to work on your rhythm?

Why songform with rhythm tracks?

Download the Song Rhythm Tracks App on the Apple App Store

Try Alive Drumming’s sampler apps to sample previously arranged tracks of popular tunes. It is then easy to use the app to adjust these to your practice and performance requirements. All the sampler apps are the same Song Rhythm Tracks app but with the included sample tracks.

 

Why Song Form with Rhythm Tracks?

Dealing With Song Forms: Tips for Drummers

Check out the article above, “Dealing with Song Forms: Tips for Drummers” from the Learn Jazz Standards website. It is great advice for drummers on how to reinforce the song form while drumming.

Ever wondered why “Song Rhythm Tracks, and not just, “Rhythm Tracks“?

It’s because the drumming should always be outlining the form of the song you are playing.  That’s fundamentally the role of the drummer, or the rhythm track if you play without a drummer.  The article above, which is tutoring drummers, explains this very well.

Always play in “song form”

You shouldn’t be using a rhythm track that doesn’t outline the form of the song because, if you do, that then counteracts the form of the song and therefore defeats the song you are trying to play.  This can be subtle, particularly if you haven’t considered it before.  New musicians often haven’t and wrongly believe that any metronomic sound or groove will do.  They miss out terribly and not having the songform outlined will actually hamper your progress. Continue Reading

New Song Rhythm Tracks Version 2.0 Arranger and Setlists Tutorial Released

drummer NasheetWaits

Alive Drumming releases tutorial video for the arranger and setlists features of using the iOS App Version 2.0.  The video uses an iPhone 6, but, other than the layout, it’s the same for all iOS devices.

It’s good to have the features described and see the walkthrough on the App at the same time.   There’s another tutorial video coming up as well for the arrangement and setlists features.

 

New Song Rhythm Tracks Version 2.0 Basic Features Tutorial Released

drummer EvaKlesseWithHerQuartet

Alive Drumming releases tutorial video for the basic features of using the iOS App Version 2.0.  The video uses an iPhone 6, but, other than the layout, it’s the same for all iOS devices.

It’s good to have the features described and see the walkthrough on the App at the same time.   There’s another tutorial video coming up as well for the arrangement and setlists features.

 

 

 

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