best drum machine to play along?

Posted by: zapper

best drum machine to play along? - 01/16/13 07:31 PM

Hi,
What can you suggest as a metronome substitution which is easy to use, can set any time signatures, it's small, have real drums sounds and rhythms built in to play along with acoustic grand piano?
thanks
Posted by: jawhitti

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/16/13 08:18 PM

If you have an iPad check out the iRealB app. It's pretty awesome. It wil play drums, piano and bass and the cool thing is that you can load up chords changes and it will play them. Once you install it it's a piece of cake to load 2,000 plus chord charts. I like it quite a bit.
Posted by: zapper

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/17/13 05:17 AM

thanks but I don't use iDevices only Droid.
Posted by: Farmerjones

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/17/13 10:18 AM

Google: Hammerhead rythmn station. One can "save as" files if one creates a prefered track.
Posted by: kiedysktos.

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/17/13 07:49 PM

Band in a Box, version with real tracks. For jazz - it's a beast. Based on samples and real musician playing, so it sounds great, whether you turn on the bass, piano or drums (or ukulele for instance). There are many styles and any tempo/time signature etc. Unfortunately I can't afford it, but it plays well. On the head bass plays half feeling and drums play on hihat, when it ends during the solo bass plays walking and drummer goes to the ride. When you lower the tempo, drummer plays brushes and generally every instrument plays differently. Great tool.
Posted by: jazzwee

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/18/13 03:53 AM

Originally Posted By: zapper
thanks but I don't use iDevices only Droid.


Well then get it on Droid...Same app.
Posted by: zapper

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/18/13 04:51 AM

I see you guys prefer software solutions, how about boss drum machines anybody uses them?
Posted by: Mark Polishook

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/18/13 08:10 AM

the best machine for these kinds of things is the one you have! be it a metronome, drum machine, or just a willing practice partner! learning to play in time is the important part! (which you obviously know!)
Posted by: kiedysktos.

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/18/13 08:36 AM

setting a metronome at 4 times slower tempo (like 15, 20, 25) works as well smile
Posted by: Farmerjones

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/18/13 02:24 PM

Originally Posted By: zapper
I see you guys prefer software solutions, how about boss drum machines anybody uses them?


Actually, for practice i use a Taktel mini. Wind-up, no batteries required. Plus the click really cuts through. i think it's important to be able to hear the nome & instrument in a ballance.

Posted by: jawhitti

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/18/13 03:21 PM

+1 for analog. My wife bought me a nice Wittner that has been delightful to use.

It's still nice to play with other instruments though. Hard to practice piano fills and riffs against a metronome alone. Even "Band in a Box" kinds of apps can be very nice for that. And I've seen guys playing gigs in restaurants where that was basically their whole schtick.
Posted by: piRround

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/18/13 03:27 PM

Zapper, if you can live with a module, how about the Alesis drum machines? I think they're the SR16 or SR18. They can be picked up used on Ebay if you don't want/need brand new.
Posted by: offnote

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/18/13 08:22 PM

Originally Posted By: kiedysktos.
setting a metronome at 4 times slower tempo (like 15, 20, 25) works as well smile


Playing slow is dangerous, you can fall asleep...

I agree, it's way more inspirational and fun to play with some real rhythms then just with dry metronome. Boss dr-880 is actually pretty cool although pricey.
Posted by: Steve Nixon

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/19/13 01:12 AM

Originally Posted By: kiedysktos.
Band in a Box, version with real tracks. For jazz - it's a beast. Based on samples and real musician playing, so it sounds great, whether you turn on the bass, piano or drums (or ukulele for instance). There are many styles and any tempo/time signature etc. Unfortunately I can't afford it, but it plays well. On the head bass plays half feeling and drums play on hihat, when it ends during the solo bass plays walking and drummer goes to the ride. When you lower the tempo, drummer plays brushes and generally every instrument plays differently. Great tool.


I'll second Band in a Box. It's definitely not a perfect program (it looks like they haven't updated the user interface since 1998 and most of the program's features are organized really poorly).

That being said the sounds are good and it is flexible. I prefer real musician's too but at 3am when I'm feeling inspired or want to practice it's a nice substitute.



Posted by: Exalted Wombat

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/19/13 06:47 AM

I have a SR-16 AND Band-in-a-Box :-)

The SR-16 is great for live performance. I use it with a twin footrswitch, one for start-stop, one for tap-tempo. The trick is to program simple patterns - working with a drum box is GOING to sound mechanical and repetitious, so keep it in a background, supportive role.

BiaB is rather overkill for just a drum track, but if you want to practice your jazz improvisation it's remarkably useful! It's also easy and quick to create a structured track with fills and stops. And, as music programs go, it's cheap. You don't need the expensive optional add-ons, the features we need are basic functions that have been in the program for years.
Posted by: kiedysktos.

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/19/13 07:12 AM

And that's obvious that having a laptop you don't have to pay for another box, electronics, processor, memory. Software is much more flexible.
Posted by: zapper

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/19/13 02:07 PM

Originally Posted By: kiedysktos.
And that's obvious that having a laptop you don't have to pay for another box, electronics, processor, memory. Software is much more flexible.


and much more difficult to use, longer time to start it up, prone to freezing and way less stable. I just want to press button and have drummer playing with me. I don't want boot a laptop, looking for a program and wait for it to load. Finally when it's loaded an OS message pops up - "updates available" or other annoying text. So no, thanks for software solutions...
Posted by: jawhitti

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/19/13 04:10 PM

Wow you don't like anyone's suggestions. Why don't you tell us which one is best?
Posted by: kiedysktos.

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/19/13 06:21 PM

Originally Posted By: zapper
Originally Posted By: kiedysktos.
And that's obvious that having a laptop you don't have to pay for another box, electronics, processor, memory. Software is much more flexible.


and much more difficult to use, longer time to start it up, prone to freezing and way less stable. I just want to press button and have drummer playing with me. I don't want boot a laptop, looking for a program and wait for it to load. Finally when it's loaded an OS message pops up - "updates available" or other annoying text. So no, thanks for software solutions...

You are right in your points, that's advantage of drum machine. I don't know any, I play mostly with my dear metronome.
Posted by: cmajornine

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/20/13 03:03 PM

Consider the DR-880 drum machine from Boss/Roland. I got one about 4 years ago to accompany myself playing at church as we did not have an band.

It’s all you need, its mainly marketed at & used by guitarists but it’s a phenomenal machine for accompaniment for any one.

http://www.roland.com/products/en/DR-880/

There are many demos on YouTube

here a few I think you should view.

http://www.youtube.com/user/rolandiberia/videos?query=dr-880

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBZFlsrrWrg

Peace.
Posted by: zapper

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/20/13 05:01 PM

Originally Posted By: cmajornine
Consider the DR-880 drum machine from Boss/Roland. I got one about 4 years ago to accompany myself playing at church as we did not have an band.


this machine is awesome! I checked all youtube demo and that's what I need, easy to use and good sounds - kinda expensive though...
thanks
Posted by: ado

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 01/23/13 02:12 PM

boss jamstation js5,you type in chords incl.sus,aug,mM7 etc.once you learn how it takes 5 minutes, you can change preset styles ,speed, silence bass and other instruments and transpose the same chord progression(no need to type in again)fast and handy.Decent sound ,I estimate you could get one for 100 to 200 bucks seconhand.
Posted by: aleexx

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 02/02/13 07:18 AM

I thing this gonna to be more practical.
Hammerhead rhythm station. One can "save as" files if one creates a preferred track.
Posted by: Skyscrapersax

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 03/14/16 05:21 AM

Are any gigging pianists here on PW actually using either hardware or software drum applications on the gig? If so, what are the +/- of each solution? Do any of them have even quasi-artificial intelligence capabilities? Thanks...
Posted by: Kbeaumont

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 03/14/16 10:51 AM

I use EZ Drummer 2, it has an enormous collection of midi files available in multiple genre.
In the application you can create and save your own drum tracks. I use it with a DAW, I'm on a Mac so I use Garageband or logic depending on the complexity of the track I want to create. Then export the track to an mp3 file at the highest resolution and play it in Mainstage which allows me to use plugin piano sounds and various effects. Here is a breakdown of my process:

The first thing I do is play to a click track into garage band. I then open up another track and set it to use EZ Drummer for the sound source. I then open the gui for EZ Drummer, it has a comprehensive browse section and a neat feature to give suggestions. I tap out the basic beat I want in to it using the piano keys and it recommends similar beats. I select one I like and drag it into the track in garage band. I then stretch the beat for the entire length of the song. Then I listen to the result, usually playing to a click track results in some inconsistency. So record over my previous track to the drums. I then go to the sections where I want fills or maybe a different sound in the chorus an open ride for example. I audition all the various fills and sounds that are in the browser that correspond to my beat. And drag and paste them into the places where I want them. At that point you have a drum track for your song that fits your playing and right mount of changes so that it sounds like a human played it. That's because you made the track and not the machine. You could stop there mute your original keyboard track and export drums only.
And it will be right every time you play it.

Or you can add other tracks, I play guitar and bass so I often add other instruments. For example, a couple of days ago I decided to do the Dobie Gray song 'Drift Away'. The backing track I made has drums, bass, guitar and some b3 organ. I sing and play to the track using a Wurlizter piano sound. Its a popular song I'm doing it more like the cover by Uncle Kracker because that version was more keyboard than guitar.

I have many simpler tracks that are just drums and bass. I own an arranger module and 'band in a box' and an Alesis SR18. Why I prefer this way has to do with sound. Every time I recorded myself playing to a machine it sounded artificial the drums especially sound slightly compressed. There was just something mechanical about it. But when I do it this way it sounds like a small band. I mix and adjust the levels, eq, reverb and delay etc until it just sounds right.

Its more work up front and time consuming but the result is a better showcase of your playing. And once you create a track its yours forever and plays the same way every time. Unlike some musicians I've worked with.

I also play in a four piece band when I bring in a new song, I can play it for them to the track and show them exactly how it should sound with all the changes. I can give them the track and they can go home and learn it.
Posted by: Skyscrapersax

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 03/14/16 12:49 PM

OK, so when you show up at the gig, you've got your pre-recorded drum (and other things...) loops...

I'm not an "Apple Person," but "Mainstage" appears to be some sort of effects aggregator/media player. Is that what you're using for the engine, or are you using your DAW? How does this work for immediacy? With a physical drum machine hardware box with buttons, there is instant access to the drum tracks and, I suppose, the ability to make up basic beats on the fly. Your solution is the antithesis of that, and I'm sure sounds great. What would I use to play the resulting loops unless I bring my laptop?

Is EZ Drummer at all useful for creating spontaneous loops, or is the process you describe always necessary? Can it function without a DAW? I can't really see using a DAW at the gig - they take forever to set up, etc., and I don't want "down time" between tunes.

How are the Jazz loops in EZ?

Thanks....
Posted by: Kbeaumont

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 03/14/16 04:49 PM

The question above me wanted +/- of each method. Hardware versus software I gave a plus to the software side. And what I thought are minuses of the hardware side from my experience. As I stated, I have an arranger and a drum machine. And for that matter a looper. It was only through listening back to recordings I felt like something was missing.

What I entailed removes the DAW from the gig side. What I do entails fore thought and attention to detail. All the work is done ahead of time. It is for gigging, not jamming. If you want spontaneity I would suggest playing with other people. There is no hardware substitute for that. The are people who use things like Ableton Live that allow you to do things spontaneously like play a solo twice making it longer. Ableton is big with the EDM crowd, DJ's and Hip-Hop. I personally find it more complicated than necessary for my purposes.

Mainstage is the sound engine from Logic, it used to ship only with Logic until Apple liberated it. For $29 it has hundreds of instruments, synth sounds,effects plugins etc. For piano it has a Steinway, a Yamaha and a Bosendorfer sound. It can also play 3rd party plugins such as pianoteq and lounge lizard. It can route audio in through reverb, compression, delay and any other effects chain you would normally use in a decent PA rack. It allows you setup splits and layers or anything you need for playing a given song and includes the backing track playback functionality. The PC equivalent is Brain Spawn Forte or Cantabile.

But to your question, yes EZ Drummer can be standalone and just loop a drum beat same as any hardware drum machine. No DAW, but you need a computer. It has thousands of drum lines programmed by some of the best drummers in the business. If your interested in Jazz you can buy the midi library for that genre and have hundreds of jazz grooves to choose from.

And anyone who fears using a computer, I've had hardware crap out too. Once you commit to using the computer you learn how to make it reliable. Setup really isn't hard a couple cables usb midi and power and it just works. I have all my tracks on my phone and my FA-08 certainly has usable on board sounds. In a pinch no computer necessary. You just have to be prepared, no winging it.
Posted by: Skyscrapersax

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 03/15/16 01:33 AM

KB - Thank you for your thoughtful responses and through explanation of your process.

Of course, artistically, I prefer to play with other cats, especially in quartet format. I'm a saxophonist and have done that for decades. However, here in sunny Detroit, I make more playing in the street that the cheapo bar owners pay a quartet. Since my piano chops are approaching my high performance standards for saxophone, I want to play solo piano gigs. I'd hire a drummer, but then it's back to chump change. I've played lots of gigs as a saxophonist with just a pianist, and after a while, the bar owner can't afford even two people! Artistically, I'm mainly interested in solo piano, rather than trio (although I can foresee doing just that, and then playing saxophone with just bass and drums on the same gig, a la Sony Rollins). But for now, I'm looking for the most flexible drum solution for gigging as a solo pianist. My traditional view of drum machines is that they are, well, machines. Your solution, while time-intensive, appears to remedy some of that machine-ness. Any solution for me will require buying new hardware: either a physical drum machine or a new laptop. My current one does double-duty for legal and home music projects. It's big, and isn't going to the gig. I'm looking at Surfaces, Yogas, and XPS. If I have to bring a computer, I'll probably want to play VST pianos in addition to the on-board sounds of my slab (my 24 pound Casio PX5S). My 80 pound Kawai MP11 stays at home with my current laptop!

I'll check out EZ Drummer and Cantabile and Brain Spawn Forte - thank you; I've never heard of them. I use Abelton as my DAW. I deem it a bit too wonky for gigging. I need something easy and spontaneous.

I've come across Jamstix. Do you have any experience with that? Playing solo piano, it would be cool to be able to dispense with form (at least some of the time!).
Posted by: johan d

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 03/15/16 02:21 AM

Originally Posted By jawhitti
check out the iRealB app.

+1 Available for Ipad and Android! and even PC....(how 90's)
Posted by: Kbeaumont

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 03/15/16 11:11 AM

Skyscraper sax, Jamstix looks interesting from the standpoint of it playing a groove to fit what your playing by analyzing midi data. It would require a host such as Forte or Cantabile or a DAW.
But the interactive part looks cool. I'm not familiar with it so I don't how well this function works but it looks like it meets your requirements. If you go that route I would be interested in knowing how well it works for you.

Good Luck! Live music seems to be dying everywhere. So anyone who can find a way to do it and still make a little money has my support. I used to be able to make quite a bit of extra income playing. I knew many fellow musos who made their living playing. Its really getting more difficult each passing year.

I grew up in Michigan and it used to have a pretty good music scene. Unfortunately that was many years ago.

Posted by: Skyscrapersax

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 03/15/16 11:25 PM

Thanks, Kbeaumont.... I think I'll get the trial version of Jamstix and see how it works in practice. I tend to play tunes differently each time I play them. The goal is to replicate (as much as possible) what would happen in an actual trio or quartet setting, where a song is picked by the group (usually wasting much potential playing time!), and then it's counted off with a feel, groove and tempo by whomever prevailed in the selection. Ideally, the drum solution would "listen" to what I play, and then join in - but this level of AI is probably farther off than self-driving cars!

EZ Drummer looks good for composing multi--part songs, so I'll look into that as well. Maybe both would work - I think they can be combined, so that Jamstix "controls" EZ (or that EZ MIDI files are imported into Jamstix, and thus "plays" with its drums). I think. This stuff is a little over my head technically.

Yeah, the D.J.s and Karaoke hosts put us musicians out of work years ago. I went to a bar the other night for a potential gig and there was a D.J., just standing there with his laptop, an unused turntable, the obligatory headphones around the neck, and probably a nice paycheck in his shirt pocket. The "audience"? They were mostly staring at their handhelds.... Such is 2016! Remember that I play in the street; we musicians have to proselytize our art much like a religious prophet.....
Posted by: beeboss

Re: best drum machine to play along? - 03/16/16 05:35 AM

Drum genius is way ahead of of any other drum machine I have heard but probably only if you are playing jazz or related styles. If it is for gigging then using backing tracks may well be better because you can write in more interesting arrangements to stop the listener getting bored.