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Combine drum machines with live drums
Do you work with drum machines? Here are a couple of fun things to try.
If the base of your drum sound is drum machines, then swap out one instrument for a live instrument. For example, I love having a drum machine kick and snare with a live hat and cymbals. Check out this recording of Shannon’s for an example of this.
1a. If you have EZ Drummer or Superior Drummer, or a similar “real drums in the box” instrument plugin, you can do this all in the box; the variation you’ll get from the natural-feeling hi hats will make the rest of the drum programming come alive. (This is how I do it.)
If the base of your drum sound is live drums, it can be super cool to augment or even replace the sounds with triggers. I do this literally all of the time; it gives live drums a “larger than life” kind of feel.
If you’re working with a live drummer, and they’re a confident enough player to deal with this, you can swap out their hi hat for a pillow or something else that doesn’t make much sound when it’s hit, and then program the hi hat on a drum machine instead. This is a mix-and-match that can have excellent results. Try this with other parts of the drum kit as well — overdubbed and triggered toms can sound monstrous.
Always looking to switch it up — jamie