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Drum machine

04 May 08 - 11:44 AM (#2332640)
Subject: Drum machine
From: Herge

Our drummer is leaving our ceilidh band - any views on replacing with a machine?????????? Cheaper (means we can reduce costs of band hire) but aware we will miss fully acoustic sound we have at moment. Also how easy is a drum machine to use? Can it be speeded up / slowed down mid tune? Any recommendations?

04 May 08 - 12:07 PM (#2332648)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Mooh

While it is true that the difference between a drummer and a drum machine is you only have to punch the drum machine once to get it to work, run in the opposite direction as fast as you can from any live use of a drum machine. Even the best digital ones can sound crappy, and are weakened further by the room and the form of amplification (amp, p.a., whatever). Even when in use, someone has to be responsible for it, turning it on and off, setting beats and tempos, etc. There is no spontenaity, no heart or drive, limited dynamics...

When I hear a drum machine used for performance, I generally equate it with lack of ability to attract a drummer, or knowing the difference, and less appealing performance. You're better without.

This is not to be confused with using drum tracks, metronome, or drum machine for private practice purposes, which is recommended.

Peace, Mooh.

04 May 08 - 12:52 PM (#2332679)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Chris Green

What Mooh said. Unless of course you want your ceilidh band to sound like the Human League circa 1983!

04 May 08 - 12:55 PM (#2332682)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: GUEST,melinda

If I went to hear a "live" concert and they had a drum machine, I would not walk out on them.

I would run as fast as I could.

04 May 08 - 01:49 PM (#2332705)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Harmonium Hero

I don't generally like drum machines, and, being a card-carrying Luddite, object to them on principle. However, I rather liked James Taylor's acoustic version on telly the other noght. Bit of a faff to carry about though!
John Kelly.

04 May 08 - 02:20 PM (#2332719)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: M.Ted

If you are going to work with a drum machine, you have to rearrange all of your material to follow a drum track that you first must compose. Essentially, your band will be accompanying and highlighting the drum track. You will be doing exactly what Human League, or Pet Shop Boys, or Depeche Mode did--if this idea does not fill you with joy and delight, best to move and find a new drummer.

04 May 08 - 02:24 PM (#2332724)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: fat B****rd

Yeah, HH. I saw the James Taylor drum machine the other night ! I'd read about it but never imagined it looked like that! As regards what everybody else said, I did a couple of demos years ago. The first with an electronic machine which sounded horrible the next, a fewq years later, with a sophisticated sampled machine which sounded great. Good Luck to you and your band, Herge.

04 May 08 - 02:54 PM (#2332739)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Jack Blandiver

Okay - here's what you're looking for, the only drum machine guaranteed compatible with Folk Music.

04 May 08 - 03:53 PM (#2332785)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Mooh

Sedayne...Brilliant! I envision a full size model, bicycle pedal powered, with real drums...

Peace, Mooh.

04 May 08 - 03:59 PM (#2332788)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Big Al Whittle

I worked with a drum machine for a long time. I'd say its feasible what you're proposing, but its not a dead easy option. You must apply yourself to a manual which is frequently written by the biggest idiot in the drum machine factory. be prepared to sweat blood.

There aren't so many drum machine acts around these days. The fashion is for backing tracks. Make sure you get one that is dedicated to live work - like the Roland CR8000 used to be in the 80's. They are different from the Alessis SR16 machines which are really for songwriters working at home. For a magic period there were hybrid machies like the tr707 and tr505 (Roland) capable of doing both. You could do all kinds of time signatures in segments and switch them around - sometimes with a footswitch.. You need a footswitch control that starts on the beat - rather the metronome working away doing its own thing. You need incidentally a non latching footswitch - otherwise you have to press the bloody thing twice. Your music shop should be able to convert latching to non latching!

I used all kinds. When I first started in the mid to late 1970's working pubs and country nights in little clubs - the best acts used to rip the drum machines out of old organs - they were spectacular machines with all kinds of bells and whistles!

Best of luck - I'll be interested to know how you get on!

Incidentally - some of the acts I worked with were absolutely terrific musicians. But they worked very working class places WMC's, pubs, holiday camps. the folkies were snotty about them even then - but the best ones ( the names Dave Curtis and Royston Jones spring to mind)were absolutely excellent.

Its possible, but its not easy! If it were easy - every bugger would be doing it, as they say in Yorkshire.


04 May 08 - 04:27 PM (#2332805)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Harmonium Hero

For those who didn't see it, James Taylor's machins worked on the same principal as the ome sedayne posted, but it took up half the stage, and used the box (if that's the word) that the whole thing stood on as a bass drum, and it also had a real snare drum and cowbell.
Herga: are you married to the idea of a 'kit' drummer, real or electronic? A percussionist might be a more interesting and versatile solution. Or get a good rhythm guitarist - or maybe you already have; in which case why bother with a drum sound at all?
John Kelly.

04 May 08 - 05:44 PM (#2332872)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Grab

Do you really need a drummer in a ceilidh band...?

04 May 08 - 06:23 PM (#2332898)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: GUEST,Dave MacKenzie

I'll declare my interest - I have left a ceilidh band which threatened to take a drum machine to a dance after our drummer retired. I don't think I'm a luddite as I used to play bass by sticking my guitar through an Octaver pedal - ideally I'd have liked a 6 string/bass double necker, but that was waiting till I was rich and famous.

I don't think that a drum machine is up to the challenge unless you've got someone operating it - dance music only appears to be constant tempo - you have to respond to the dancers, and there's no point forcing the tempo if the dancers can't keep up, or lagging behind if you're playing a crowd of drunken tear-arses.

I have seen them work on stage for non-dance performances, the Handsome Family, and I think there was somebody else, probably Sammy Mitchell. I look forward to the day when the technology reaches an acceptable standard.

04 May 08 - 07:47 PM (#2332934)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Big Al Whittle

'dance music only appears to be constant tempo - you have to respond to the dancers'

this is true - whatever kind of dance music you play.

the thing is - you get more adept with these machines - and you 'll find you can shoot from the hip - after a bit.

I didn't say it was instant gratification - its at least semi skilled stuff we're talking about.

This thread has prompted me to check the internet and Royston Jones is still active in the south wales area. Old Royston was bloody good even thirty years ago. He absoluely blew me off stage one night in Newquay, midWales - when I'd just started out.

His drum machine was straight off an old organ and literally had all these bell noises. I think it cost him about six or seven hundred pounds - so you can see how popular the guy was even then - how much work he had. Coupled with a terrific Welsh voice, he really was something.

Incidentally an interesting snippet for folk fans - Downes and Beer were session men on Royston's first album. They played on about a hundred road albums for English country and western artists - round about that time! So the roots of Show of Hands studio techniqueha an a few interesting by roads!

all the best


05 May 08 - 04:46 AM (#2333148)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Herge

Thanks folks
Looks like we are on the look out for a new drummer! What about those foot boards things which amplify a tapped foot?


05 May 08 - 07:41 AM (#2333200)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine

If I saw a ceilidh band using a drum machine I would assume that 1) their drummer had left and they couldn't find a replacement or 2) that they were trying to be "modern"

You can buy foot amplifying things, check out this ;-)

05 May 08 - 08:24 AM (#2333213)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine

Oops, that'll teach me not to preview messages.

I meant

Or you could save money and get a big resonant wooden box and stick a mic on or in it

Or for a more radical approach (whilst remaining strictly acoustic and low-tech) you could try something like this ;-)

05 May 08 - 09:06 AM (#2333236)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: GUEST,Greycap

You don't have to buy a drum machine beers - that's about the only advantage.

05 May 08 - 11:12 AM (#2333280)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Big Al Whittle

there are others...

a smaller van, a guaranteed sense of rhythm, many drummers are strange people (I once worked with a drummer who worryingly carried firearms, and told me he kept a sub machine gun under the floorboards!), the drum machine willl probably turn up to the it goes.

06 May 08 - 02:36 AM (#2333835)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: The Sandman

for god sake dont do it,drum machines are mechanical.
either have a good drummer,or play without.
a drum machine can never replace a good drummer.Dick Miles

06 May 08 - 08:32 AM (#2333978)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: GUEST,Mike Rogers

Here at RDS (Replacement Drummer Solutions) we recommend the following alternatives:

1)all band members to tap their feet
2)hire drummer with minimum age of 70 armed only with snare and brushes
3)hire doghouse bassist with excellent slapping technique
4) hire gorgeous female with tambourine (think Emmylou Harris circa 1975)

Question to ask prospective drummer - do you do rolls and paradiddles? (Correct answer is 'no' unless he's Jerry Allison.)

06 May 08 - 02:11 PM (#2334198)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Big Al Whittle

'a drum machine can never replace a good drummer'

talkabout mastermind sybil falty; subject, the bleeding obvious.

all I can say is, advertise for a drummer and see what turns up!

06 May 08 - 02:24 PM (#2334203)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: TheSnail

Why stop at a drum machine? Why not use synthesizers for all the other instruments driven by sequencing software? In fact, why not just stick in a CD and shove off down the pub and save yourselves the trouble of playing at all?

06 May 08 - 02:28 PM (#2334209)
Subject: RE: Drum machine
From: Big Al Whittle

beats me Snail.... I bet they never even thought of that.