Alta Native: Ba-Dum, Tish!

Tuesday was a day for synthetic drums and productive failures. Well, I'm sure it was a day for lots of things, but that's what I used it for.


I spent most of the daylight hours messing about with this bit of software. It models the vibrations of percussive membranes. In spite of being called EasyPiano.

It seems to be a highschool project of three Russian students, and it's far from finished. It can't even save WAV files, and there's no damping mechanism - so it can convincingly make metal drums, but not those of manmade fibres or wood. Not yet anyway.

However, after several hours I did get a reasonable steel snare drum sound. And then decided not to use it. But nevermind - I know how to make more now.

Tassman is also capable of synthesising real-sounding drums, and I spent another few hours trying things out with that. I've little doubt I could come up with a several complete drumkits in Tassman - given a spare week or two with nothing else to do. A future project.

I'd been trying to come up with a tenth and final cover song for the gig in January, and the part of my brain that enjoys being perverse suggested a triphop version of Squeeze's "Cool for Cats". With real sounding drums - hence the work with EasyPiano and Tassman.

It's an "interesting" idea, but didn't really work when I tried it out. So I switched to the reserve idea - "First We Take Manhattan" by Leonard Cohen, done a la Georgio Moroder.

For this I needed...synthetic sounding drums. Rather than searching through backup discs, I knocked together a new set in an hour, using filtered white noise in Audition.

Remember the Symmons drum sounds of the 80s? Think Cameo, the later Fine Young Cannibals, Michael and Janet Jackson, and a million soul records with no soul whatsoever. Same synthesis technique, same sort of sounds.

The drum and synth demo of "Manhattan" was okay, but not inspiring. Generic Kapitano - slightly grungy primitive synths and bangy drums. It was late and I was tired. Just before climbing into bed with a chapter of John LeCarre, I tried out something on impulse...

Rapping "Cool for Cats" over the Cohen/Moroder backing. It worked. I thought it sounded pretty good. So that's going to be the final song.

So I've got my set - in demo form at least - and I've got a few new skills that I won't use this time, but which will come in useful. And that's what I mean by productive failure.

No comments:

Post a comment