Drum Machine/Chicken or the Egg


New member
I have borrowed a Roland 880 drum machine. I spent 8 hours reading the manual and finally got a basic 16 measure track input with fill and intro. Question: Do your lay the drum track down first and record around it, or do you use a click track, and put the drums down later. Any info would be helpful. Any hints on where to find drum patterns for different kinds of music? They are easy to load, but if you do not have any basic drum knowledge, like me, I find it hard to match a track to the tempo and feel of the music that I play. I have a new respect for drummers.....
I feel your pain. Yea, there's nothing like having a real drummer with real mikes as far as quality is concerned but it can be a bit expensive to do it that way.Actually a large percentage of hits out there today are using drum machines in thier productions.It takes time to learn to use a drum machine. Keep playing with it and you will find it can do pretty much what you need it to do of course minus the human element. I've done some good recordings with the "old timer" roland 626 but it took time to create my beats. To answer your other question, I would take the drums down first and then build other parts around your drums.It's easier for musicians to get a feel or groove and keep good timing when they can hear the other parts especially the drums.

Although unrelated to you're situation,
We have found that even the drummer can deliver a better performance when he can hear the other parts around him, so we give him a click track, and direct the bass guitar and guitar into his headphone mix.They are in separate rooms.Kinda like a live mix but the only thing we are recording are the drums.

Bill/ LM studio Richmond
Well, if your recording all of this yourself, with no intention of getting a real drummer at any point, I would suggest putting down the best drum machine track you can. Using a click is great, but using a drum machine is just a glorified click. This is what I have been doing lately. I use fruity loops to create a relative drum pattern. And then later, get a real drummer to play the track. I find this helps me to play better, and more in the groove. Of course, nothing replaces playing with a real drummer, bass player.. whoever. It's hard to capture the "real performance" feel multitracking, but oh well.


[This message has been edited by Emeric (edited 08-14-1999).]
Thanks guys. I do only record by myself. I am the only one who shows up. I have found musicians, believe it or not, are not very dependable. It seems the more talented they are the less dependable they are. I am playing all the parts. I guess I will have to buckle down and learn the 808 or go out and buy the Zoom 234. It is alot easier to use. And it plays bass also. Has 50 voices for bass, including fretless. WOW. Reasonalble also. QUESTION: Click track 4 beats per measure or whatever I am comfortable with?
Whatever your comfortable with I suppose. I use 4 beats per measure (assuming it's 4/4) with the built in click in Cubase VST, but again I prefer to put down a drum machine track for actually playing along, over dubbing etc..

Hey man of the Blewz:

I just got a new Boss 770 drum machine and it is a real delight. There are more patterns loaded in that box than I'll probably ever get to use. This is my third drum machine; I also have an Alesis and before that a Yamaha. This Boss Box is by far the best sounding.

Some time back a good friend of mine who is a very talented keyboard person called and asked to come to my studio to do a short cut of one of his new tunes to send to the members of his group, Chizil. (out of Chicago)

This friend has been in the commercial music business for years and has done many commercials/music arranging/etc., that you have heard on the tube/radio.

Since you record alone as I do most of the time, here's what I learned from this good musician friend.

First do the drum track; yeah, you may have to count out the measures/etc., but it is worth the time. One way I've found to make certain tunes end professionally is to fade out the drums at the end - this leaves room to do a number of nice add-ins as the song fades away.

So, once the drum track is done, you can do the keys/chords/keys/solo/etc.

Now it gets easier; now you can add a horn solo, vocal, strings, one at a time if you have a multi-track set-up. And, if you have virtual tracks, you can do a few cuts of solos/and pick the best one.

Also, you can add special drum licks to certain spots in the cut, like a cymbal crash or bells, etc.

I use an MD-8 Yamaha and 8 tracks are usually plenty for me; of course, you can bounce tracks but I believe a better final mix can be had if you don't bounce. This way, you have complete control of imput for every track/plus tweaking the EQ if you choose.

Hope this helps out; I've also written drum patterns and used them in a loop/or a mixture of patterns. Keep plugging away at the drum machine/net chat, etc. Once you get the hang of one drum machine, they are all pretty much alike in function; just different buttons to push and wheels to turn.

The Green Hornet
Thanks Hornet. I am learning how to bang on this thing. I just wish it was easier. I guess it is like anything else. If its easy it aint worth nothing.......Thanks again..