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.


Comparison – Midi Drum Machines and Song Rhythm Tracks

midi drum machine
midi drum machine

Audio Generation

Midi Drum Machines — Audio is generated from the machine ‘playing’ together individual drum ‘hits’ at varying intensities. The machine is effectively taking the place of the drums and, to some extent, the drummer.

 

 

Song Rhythm Tracks
Song Rhythm Tracks

Song Rhythm Tracks — Audio is generated from multiple long recordings of talented artists. These recordings can be as much as 8-bars long with repeats using alternate recordings to provide variety.

Source of the Rhythm

Midi Drum Machines — Each rhythm comes from an algorithm specifying which drums are hit when within the bar. Each rhythm can be parameterized by the tempo, linearly increasing and decreasing with ease. Even so, the mechanical sounding rhythm sounds less and natural as the tempo varies further from the norm for the rhythm.

Song Rhythm Tracks — Each rhythm comes from long-form artist’s recordings. Each of these is recorded at multiple tempos where the drummer naturally changes the style of the drumming to suit the tempo, varying the intensity and placement of the hits within the bar to suit the tempo and the style. Effectively, each tempo recording is a unique rhythm, albeit stylistically related to those at the other tempos.

Audio Format

Midi Drum Machines — The machine generates the drumming audio in real-time. Many machines allow for an audio track to be generated but rarely do they provide good setlist facilities for these audio files, as that is not their focus.

Song Rhythm Tracks — Alive Drumming supplies high-quality MP3 audio files that are catalogued and managed from within mobile apps with good setlist facilities and provide a good musician’s player.

Memory Requirements

Midi Drum Machines — Only a small amount of computer memory is required to hold the audio of the drum hits which are often efficiently compressed. The Apps generally have a small memory footprint as well.

Song Rhythm Tracks — The source audio recordings are large requiring much storage space. Also, there are a many of them. Alive Drumming stores these within Cloud Servers where sophisticated programs generate the Song Rhythm Tracks, delivering them to the mobile apps.

Rhythmic Styles

Midi Drum Machines — These are preferred by those affirming the mechanical, highly regular sounding drums. This sound has spawned new genres of music.

Song Rhythm Tracks — Song Rhythm Tracks are preferred by those who like the sound of real-life drummers, drumming on drums and the artistry achieved by these musicians using authentic percussion and drums instruments.

What users are looking for

Midi Drum Machines — Users of Midi Drum Machines often affirm the visual beauty of the machine themselves and the ‘drumming’ facilities they have. The machines become a ‘new type of drum to play‘, and they love their machines as much as any instrumentalists.

Song Rhythm Tracks — Users of Song Rhythm Tracks are not interested in playing Midi Drum Machines, or probably real drums either. They want to benefit from great sounding rhythmic backing tracks that fit the songs they play and with a minimum of effort. They generally would prefer an understated device that works reliably, efficiently and with great ergonomics, particularly during performance. They want the best quality, performance-ready backing tracks.

Use cases

Midi Drum Machines — Users of Midi Drum Machines often use it as an ‘advanced metronome‘ and often improvise along to a 4-bar endless loop. 4-bar and sometime 8-bar phrases are often displayed visually within the Machine with facilities to play and loop alternative phrases.

Song Rhythm Tracks — These are backing music for the practice and performance of fully-arranged, complete Songs (vocal or instrumental). They partly sound so great because you hear the form of the song in the rhythmic backing, just like you do with real drummers. This is not only a longer-form than a 4-bar loop, but it has more structure as well, with arrangements including introduction sections, middle choruses, bridges and more. The arrangement is always visible — particularly during playing where you might need a reminder.

Availability and Formats

Midi Drum Machines — There are many Midi Drum Machines available on mobile and desktop platforms and dedicated physical machines, with various facilities, often specializing in particular rhythmic styles.

Song Rhythm Tracks — There’s the one Song Rhythm Tracks Service which provides all the various rhythms and arrangement smarts.  There are around 4,000 to choose from when alternate tempos and instrumentations are considered. Currently, apps are available on the Apple iOS platform with Android and Web platforms being delivered soon. All iOS Apps have exactly the same facilities and can access the full Alive Drumming catalog.


Also published on Medium.