Sunday, May 1, 2016

Expanding into the drum-like

It seems that this music I make has, as an end result been incomplete as a solo artist.  I am referring to the sound of one man, one voice, and one guitar, set within a slice of time.  In other words, as an individual I have been unable to create the sound I know this music could attain were there others participating in its delivery.  The limits of the individual comes to the forefront as hindering.  The past few years I have taken to recording this music in a Linux Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that employs a multi-track capability.  The system further allows its potential to fill in the gaps that this limited, one person, with but two hands and the single brain can produce in any singular instance.  Where as I would prefer to create the music with a group of individuals, I lack this said group of musicians within my circle of acquaintances and friends.  For several years I have been writing midi tracks that simulate having a bass player beside me (or other instruments).  It is pretty good at filling that piece of a rhythm section.  Although it is helpful the result of recordings that use this capability have continued to be rather hollow sounding.  I can build layers through singing harmony vocals beside my main vocal track.  I've also recorded differing guitar or mandolin riffs that can provide additional depth to these pieces.  Still the end result of these works has never been fully satisfying to my ear.  I have known this lacking to be the absence of percussion.

One of the many qualities that working with a robust DAW is its flexibility.  Similar to the work of learning to use the midi functions for creating bass, string sections (individually), and or horns or horn sections, I have recently taken advantage of learning how to make percussion instrument sounds that can be added to the recordings.  The results are changing the overall sound I spoke to above.  It has been a challenge to learn what drumming is really about in its musical sense, because though I have listened to drums throughout my life, even enjoyed the sounds they make while contributing to their respective pieces of music, I've not taken the time nor had an interest in learning or studying percussion.  This has changed. 

I am now past the stage of wading to ankle deep into the rhythmic part of drumming and stepped off a ledge into the deeper waters where what I have heard is coming to be something I know at least a little bit more about.  The software I am using for percussion is called Hydrogen.  It employs a rather logical system to create patterns in drumming on a time line.  It is very similar to that of written musical score, in that it has a time-line that consists of a duration, flexibly set to coincide with the time signature and tempo of the piece it is synchronized to (the multi-track recording software package in the DAW, in this instance Ardour).  I am still far from being expert at the use of this part in the music puzzle, yet it is really providing good results.  There is yet a lot to learn about drumming as a whole.  I am still finding it shocking to discover the seemingly odd timing that is required to create drumming patterns.  I do so love creating music! 

I've added an example of a this drumming technique here: Bomb Train

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