Serial# CR39670

My right arm totally lacks co-ordination and power. I am left-handed; so this is not completely unexpected. Also, since my accident many years ago my right shoulder has been a bit iffy.

However, I was not prepared for a complete inability to beat a drum rhythm in time!

This revelation is a result of a new acquisition in the studio equipment arena: an electronic drum trigger unit that you can beat with sticks! It’s a simple, 8-pad thing that you can set up to drive all those other keyboardy, rack thingys via MIDI signals, with a few good built-in sounds as well. I got it because, well, I’m stuck on a couple of music projects and I wanted to try something different to kick-start some creative action. They both need better rhythm tracks, so this seemed like a good and challenging idea.

I never expected to be the world’s greatest drummer – except in my mind, of course – but merely beating out a regular kick-snare combination seems to be beyond me, unless I just use one stick in my left hand, and let it do all the work. Depressing. This will need practice.

Other than my human limitations, the pad itself seems pretty good. Drum techniques like flams, rolls, fills, and other stick tricks seem easy to do on the rubbery rectangles. Bok Factor 8.

My first attempts to use it to lay down grooves failed to best my existing “keyboard drumming”, and shortly afterwards I gave up.

Two or three years later, I give it another go, this time augmenting the unit with a bass drum trigger and foot pedal, and a high-hat control pedal. I ran into difficulties, both in co-ordination (it would help if I had any real practice playing actual drums) and also in configuring the MIDI mapping between the physical pads and the layout of XLN Addictive Drums across the note grid. High-hat control in particular had a kind of impedance mismatch between controller data and MIDI note numbers.

So I gave up again.

Recently I’ve broken out the pads again, at first just to fix up some tom and snare rolls. For some reason, this time I’ve found a process that works better than the keyboard, for all drum parts. I’m not using the foot pedals, and I have to record the complete drum part in several passes using pad mappings to different subsets of the kit, but the net result is quite satisfying. 

There are still mistakes and bad groove choices, but I always had those problems with the keyboard anyway.