Drum Recycling


If only for a moment.....
Between 2009 and 2012 I was fortunate enough to record with three guys that played drums. In that period, we must have recorded close to 100 songs, possibly even more than that. Whenever there was an opportunity, we'd record. We'd get through different numbers of songs in a session. A long piece {anything from 10~22 minutes} would occupy a whole session. Other times, we might get through anything from 2 to 8 songs. On one celebrated occasion back in 2012, my mate Ray and I got through 13 songs in less than 4 hours.

I ended up with lots of songs, different tempos, time signatures, different patterns etc. The songs are in various states of completeness ~ some are completed, some nearly finished, some half done, some barely done and some just with bass and drums or guitar and drums. Some with just a scratch track and hummed melody and drums.

There were actually times when I'd be 'hot to trot' but none of my drumming mates were around. One lived in Zambia, one was in university down in South west England {and is currently living in New York} and the other was not really reliable by that stage but I'd have ideas that I wanted to get down.

It was then that I hit on the idea of recycling drum tracks.

At first, it was rather complicated because I was flying in a singular drum track from a portastudio {an 8 track Tascam 488} to my Akai 12 track and I'd be mixing and matching with 4 or 5 tracks of drums already on the Akai. But once I bought a second Akai DPS12i {initially, it was just a back up machine but has since become crucial for my way of mixing} it occurred to me that I could send actual multiple drum tracks from one machine to another with virtually no loss of quality.......and that was when, if none of my drum friends were available, I could find tracks from particular songs and use them again. I've done this for quite a lot of songs now and different sections will come from different songs. When I can get together with a drummer, I will and do but in anyone's absence.......

How would I do this ? Well, as an example, I might take the drum tracks of one song for a first verse, the chorus part would come from another song, the next verse from another or maybe even the same one. After a while, I've gotten quite adept at building up a song with different movements from drum tracks that already exist. One would think that it would be obvious that different drums have been used within the same song but I've found that once everything else is in the song and when the drums are worked on, it's not noticeable to the detriment of the song. Also, when flying the drums in in the first place, I might do so at different speeds. So a song that originally was pretty fast, I might varispeed and slow down or vice versa. It's quite interesting matching different tempos from different drum performances and getting them all to run at the same tempo or speeding up/slowing down as the song requires. The majority come as 4 tracks {kick, snare, L&R overheads} although some of my earliest drum multitracks were 5 tracks as I used to independently mic the hi~hat.

Most people don't record with standalones anymore and many aren't able to utilize real drums. I regard myself as fortunate to have been in the position that I am in. Obviously this method isn't for everyone {arguably it may not be for anyone !} but it's one ingredient to throw into the soup. You never know who might decide to give such a method a whirl and besides, it's something to read during these covid times.
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Hat STYLE. Not contents.
Can you edit in some paragraph breaks? (and line breaks between the paragraphs) This is very difficult to read.


If only for a moment.....
Sorry about that. I typed it on a computer that's stuck at a screen resolution of 640 x 480 and the page was so wide it was hard to see anything. Looking at it on my son's laptop, I could see what you meant. Hopefully, it reads a little clearer now.