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On Strike

Jun 05 2008 Posted by in music | Comments Off on On Strike

I’ve always taken a lot of (foolish) pride in constructing all my electronic drum tracks painstakingly by hand to give them a natural feel with my own fills and flourishes (I’m not a drummer, I’m a guitarist who plays keys), and they’ve always taken me a ridiculously long time to create – around three nights per song, because I’m trying to fit them around riffs and grooves already written on other instruments. Ouch. But I hate prepackaged drum patterns.

Yesterday, I got this Pro Tools virtual instrument AIR plug-in called Strike, and I think it will change my life. It’s basically a software drum sample player, but it slaughters anything else in its class. I can change the virtual placement of the mics, the room tone, the tuning – every musical or technical parameter you can think of – all at individual instrument level. In real time. On a visual, user-friendly interface. I used to program the MIDI patterns and then just lay the whole kit down as a stereo pair because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of individual track recording. But this allows you to mix the entire kit at the instrument level, with effects/processing on each, sort of a self-contained submix.

I feel like an engineer with an assistant every time I tweak a parameter to bring up the overheads or dial in more of the snare bottom. And a producer when I twist the knob to play ahead of or behind the beat, or turn up the complexity. And a drummer when I randomize the velocity or strike position.

Every pattern for the selected kit loads into RAM all at once, so I can “perform” the full range of patterns, fills, etc. on the fly from my synth in real time, simplify or complexify it, or augment it by playing along on another zone of the keyboard. Oh, and they sound effing incredible. I’m stoked about being able to record my songs much faster now.