Virtual drums can be quite awesome until the performance begins to seem inorganic. However, your production doesn’t have to stop there. By applying these tips, you’ll be guaranteed a composition that is as close as it gets to the real thing.
1. UNDERSTAND PERCUSSION
To begin, it is helpful to educate yourself with the physics of the Drum-set. Moreover, Knowing how a professional drummer would play the instrument is necessary so that one avoids writing a phrase that is impossible to play in reality. If you were somewhat like me, at least, when I first began producing, you may have made an arrangement that requires a drummer to have three or four arms in order for it to be played. It is key that the overall feel and mechanics of your MIDI drums are natural. Therefore, before flipping the creative switches, have a good idea of how the MIDI parts should sound when it’s all said and done.
2. BE ARTISTIC WITH AUTOMATION
Once the arrangement is complete, automation then becomes your best friend. Volume automation, is a great tool to help add dynamics to programmed drums. A professional drummer doesn’t hit any part of the drum-set the exact same each time, so making the slightest frequency adjustments will help tremendously to articulate the various sounds throughout the arrangement. Velocity changes can also be used creatively to create a grooves once the appropriate notes are accented.
3. BREATHE LIFE INTO THE ARRANGEMENT
It’s now time to capture life into the composition. My way of doing this is by placing stereo paired microphones a few inches from a pair of studio monitors to capture a play back of the composition. However, It is important that this is done in a good sounding room. Not only will you be adding the natural reverberation of the room to your drum track, but also some natural ambience. At this stage your programming should already begin to sound as if they were recorded in a live room with a professional drummer.
4. GET REAL WITH DISTORTION
Finally, add some grit to your track. Ohmicide by Ohmforce is by far my favorite plug-in to get this done. This distortion is used by Skrillex and many other producers because of its unique ability to saturate and round up almost any virtual instrument to give that authentic sound that every producer desires.
At the end of the day we are producers, not drummers per se. However, it is important to get an understanding of the overall physics of a drum-set and how it is played by a professional. Having said, once these tips are followed added your own little sprinkles of creativity, you’ll be changing your motionless composition into a lively performance.