Production tip – drumsticks and the perils of patch browsing

Two tips in one post today. Why? Because they’re short and sharp and I need something to fill the looming postaweek deadline!


I’m not a drummer, however, a couple of weeks ago I took delivery of a £2.99 pair of drumsticks from eBay. Having recently invested in an Alesis Palmtrack, I’ve developed the ‘found sounds’ sampling bug. Whether it’s me making silly noises with my mouth or banging spanners together, I’ve managed to create all manner of richly dynamic percussive sounds for use in my tracks. What’s better, they’re not from a sample CD, nor are they nicked from another record (two past times I indulge in equally and having nothing against, incidentally). They’re mine, I made them and no one else can claim to be their keeper. A bit like fitting your own bathroom, there’s a tangible sense of pride in that.

But… there’s only so many noises you can make by hitting things with your hands and there’s nothing quite like the tactile feedback of a drum stick, hence my purchase. It’s something I highly recommend any aspiring producer/beat maker/sonic experimentalist has a bash at, literally. Not only can you hit things more accurately and procude variations in timbre and tone, you can also use them to enter 64th note drum frills and hi hat patterns if you’ve got a midi controller with some decent pads on it. Give the latter a try – you won’t be reaching for the quantise button afterwards, I promise.

One slight problem, you will look like a tit walking around the house hitting things with drum sticks.

The perils of patch browsing

I’ll keep this one short. If you’re browsing the patch bank of a synth and come across something which appears to fit the track, stop and use it (although, please fiddle with it a bit to make it your own). If I could have a pound for the number of times I’ve gone past that point, hunting pointlessly for some kind of patch nirvana, I would have a lot of pounds. And no music. There’s a reason you liked it… so stick with it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s