Thursday, October 23, 2008

Handy patches - drums and bass

There are some styles of music you might use in a musical game that benefit from a bit of trickery. One of the easiest patches to set up is a drum + bass combo.

I like to set up a kit on the lowest octave on the keyboard, and a bass for the rest of the keyboard. The character of both the drums and bass might change depending on the style, so I have multiple similar patches set up. For example, you might use a brushed snare and fretless bass for a jazz song, but a heavier kit and slap bass for rock.

Most keyboards will have a preset drum kit (either their own layout, or the GM standard layout) that give you all the bits you might need for a kit in the space of an octave. I've set one up for myself that lets me play a kit pretty easily with just my left hand, along these lines:

I use my pinkie for the bass drum, ring finger for the snare, and thumb to lay down either closed hats (with index finger for occasional open hats), all open hats, or ride.

The bits of kit I used the most I like to put on black keys, or the leftmost C at the edge of the keyboard, to make it easier to play without watching what I'm doing. If all the frequently used sounds were mapped to white keys, the changes of mashing adjacent keys by accident would be a lot higher.

It takes some practice to coordinate yourself, but you get there in the end. It's completely natural to me now; I can play a left-handed drum part without thinking, which leaves my brain free to drive the bassline with my right hand.

Aside from being handy for musical games, this sort of setup is great to open or close a show, when you need some sustained pumping music to really rev up the crowd. Because the music is provided primarily by the bassline, it sits below the MC's voice, and will complement rather than clash.

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