Originally posted by Wrong Robot
You tell me(this is only half of it)
I'd like to try and make some rock music, but it's difficult because midi drums just don't do rock justice.
Try it. Study what rock drummers do, analyze the structure of the rhythms and then program the parts into a midi recorder. Here's how I do it .. it's a little laborious getting the source elements, but once done, you can get very realistic and usable results.
For source elements, I sampled a small, properly tuned (DW) drumset...kick, snare, 2 rack toms, hihat, a crash and ride cymbal using a large diaphragm condenser microphone for the kick, snare and toms, and a pair of small diaphragm condenser mics for the overhead/cymbals samples (stereo works well for overheads). One of the keys to getting programmed (sampled) drums not to sound mechanical and "beat boxish" is to take numerous samples of each drum...as many as you can can...sample memory is the only consideration here. Ideally, record many (I use 128 ) different samples of each drum, (most important for snare and toms) from very soft to as loud as you can...hitting many different places on the drum head as well....and make sure you get lots of samples for the 'normal volume' hits. Structure a sample map so midi velocity data increments trigger corresponding louder samples for each drum. (There are many reasons to use multisamples for each drum... it helps to prevent listening fatigue...avoiding the 'drum machine' thing where you are always firing the same sample back each hit. Also, when programming fills and rolls, alternate between samples on each drum element, and make sure the decay on each sample doesn't do a "brickwall" cut off on firing the next hit..this envelope decay cut-off gives a fast snare or tom fill sound like a machine gun...very beat-box-like, a dead giveaway and sounds horrible! Fills are really difficult to program to make them sound authentic...you will have to experiment with that all important decay time on each fill element. It's definitely time consuming. It's really hard to try and describe all this stuff in a short paragraph, but thats the general idea, although theres lots more variables and parameters to mess with once the parts are entered into a sequencer program. If you 'quantize' the parts so they are "perfectly" in time...this takes away from the subtle timing variations that a human drummer makes....so try sliding the kick and snare parts relative to each other in time (just a tiny amount..a few ticks either way)...and listen to the way the 'feel' changes...from 'lazy' to 'on top of the beat'. Also, once recorded, one of the characteristics of a great drum sound is the sound of the room/hall....so judicious use of a suitable (high quality) digital reverb algorithm on the computer, or better still, high quality dedicated reverb hardware is essential. Also, pan the drums realistically also...kick and snare somewhere around the center, the toms center-left and center-right (not panned hard left and right, a drumset isn't 50 feet across!)..and the (stereo) cymbal samples as a stereo pair, hard left and right. Once you have the set programmed up and sounding sweet, you wont have to wait on drummers that dont show up on time, you won't have to pay union rates, and drum sample maps don't fight, get drunk or take huge quantities of dangerous drugs.