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Virtual Drummers in Logic

One of the more inventive
updates included with Logic X is the Drummer Track. This allows the
user to create realtime drum tracks from a multitude of genres and
playing styles, intuitively, through a simple-to-use interface. 

Setting it up is a breeze and first time users can
create realistic and varying arrangements immediately with one click. Below we will take a look at Drummer’s rudimentary points
as well as a few tips to transform it from being a toy and
into a tool.

To start Drummer, go to
the Track menu and select New Drummer Track. This opens the Drummer interface as well as populate the Tracks area with
16 bars of Drummer Regions (a special region type which looks like

If, on the other hand, one were to have the Arrangement
populated with markers (pressing G will open Logic‘s Global
where the Arrangement Track resides) and were to create a
Drummer Track, the newly created regions would follow the lead of the
arrangement track in number, length and name.

Interestingly, Logic attempts to
match the complexity and intensity of the newly formed regions to
match the current arrangement. In the image below I’ve set up Drummer with an intro, verse, bridge and chorus in the arrangement

Listen to how Logic has guessed at my intentions complete
with fills. I’ve cut the first 8 bars from the audio [intro] below.

How it looks.

The initial setting across different sections.

The other interesting thing to note
here is that unlike a regular plugin where the settings are global
for all track regions, the Drummer settings change from region to
region—based on the settings for the selected region—and are cycled
through as the different regions are played. 

The Drummer interface
shows the intro region’s settings as using only a kick and toms set
to a fairly high loudness and complexity with a moderate fill rate.
The chorus increases the loudness, complexity and fill rate and drops
the toms for cymbals and snare.

On the lefthand side of the interface are the
Drummers, segregated by genre, with each playing a different style
and kit. 

Hovering over the drummer images gives a brief synopsis of
what each drummer offers the session. 

Kyle is ‘influenced by
modern rock, but comfortable with most genres’
, while ‘Max is
influenced by fast, hyperactive punk rock’
. There are around 30 drummers in all with each having a
number of preset patterns—directly to the right—to choose from.

The rock drummers.

The most fun aspect of the interface is
the XY pad to the right of the preset patterns.

Moving the puck
around in this area changes the currently selected region in terms of
complexity and loudness in real time. It’s a bit easy to get lost
trying out different preset patterns/puck locations and discovering
new and interesting grooves to work with.

The same initial intro set to soft and simple.

The same intro region set to loud and complex.

Directly to the right of the XY grid is
a visual of the drum kit where one can choose the number of voices
used for the selected region. 

The kit sounds change from drummer to
drummer and can be modified in the channel strip by opening the
plugin associated with them and swapping samples/modifying the kit

The sliders to the right of the drum kit dictate how
often the named drum voice or voices will play within the selected

The initial drummer playing fewer drums per bar at the verse. 

The initial drummer playing more drums per bar at the verse.

The knobs in the righthand section of
the interface control the number of fills and swing for the selected
region. These do exactly as advertised. If one wants their drummer
to play more fills, turn the fill knob. If one wants their drummer
to have a more of an off time feel, turn the swing knob.

Directly below the swing knob are 8th
and 16th note buttons which determine the number of swung notes. 16ths will populate the selected region with more swung notes and give
a tighter feel while 8ths will give a more open and off time sound.

Jasper at swung 8th notes.

Jasper at swung 16th notes.

Directly below is the somewhat nuanced
Details button. Clicking on it opens a field with controls that vary depending on the drummer selected. 

Kyle only has a few controls
which dictate the swing he is playing in—behind or in front of the
metronome—the loudness of any ghost note he may be playing, and if
his hi-hat is opened or closed. Selecting automatic plays both at
varying degrees.

Kyle Pushing at 100 and 0 open hats.

Kyle pulling at 100 and 100 open hats.

The Details section gets slightly more
complicated when an electronic drummer is selected. The sliders
allow the selection of the complexity floor and ceiling for each drum

The button and dials do exactly what they say and a allow for
the dialling-in of humanisation, phrase variation and half time.

Jasper doing his thing with the above settings.

One quirk is that Logic does not allow
you to switch the AU if any of the drummers are selected who rely on
the Drum Machine Designer

If you’re using a
drummer who uses the Drum Kit Designer as part of his preset,
switching to Battery or BFD as a sample engine is as easy as
switching plugins. If you want to do the same with Jasper, however, it gets a bit more complicated.

Control clicking the desired Drummer
region and selecting export as MIDI file will create a MIDI region
which will then have to be exported back into Logic on an instrument

The drawback is obviously lose of flow and the ability to
change parameters improvising with the Drummer interface.
It does, however, grant the user more specified control over pattern,
timing and velocity as those things can now be edited on the MIDI

As such, it is probably a move one would want to make in the
later part of a composition in order to fully take advantage of
Drummer‘s improvisational strengths.

Jasper with his drum machine.

Jasper with his drum kit after MIDI export.

In all, Drummer is a great tool for
improvisation and finding styles and patterns one may not have
thought about or previously been exposed to. I feel it’s strengths
as a compositional tool lie within that, but like most anything it
is not the be all and end all.

Picking and choosing certain drum voice
patterns across different sections or finding unique fills are its
strengths. It has the ability to lay initial groundwork, but
turning a Drummer pattern to fit a personal track does take further
manipulation once it has been converted to MIDI. 

It is an improv
tool and the initial portion is very nuanced easily used. Enjoy.