Trans­form­ing stock Roland TR-8 drums into weird loops

Roland’s fa­mous drum ma­chines have been rinsed to death, so let’s take the sounds much, much fur­ther with cre­ative sig­nal pro­cess­ing

Future Music - - FEATURE -

We’ve put to­gether this 124bpm drum groove us­ing the TR-8. The loop com­prises an 808 kick on the down­beat, 909 toms act­ing as bass, and the usual house-style clap, hats, cym­bals and perc. This drum ma­chine is great for on-the-fly ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, as we can pull down faders to mute in­di­vid­ual hits.

Time to en­gage the Ring Mo­du­la­tor, which mul­ti­plies the in­com­ing sig­nal with its in­ter­nal car­rier os­cil­la­tor to pro­duce dis­so­nant par­tials. Af­ter a bit of tweak­ing, we turn the dis­torted loop into a clan­gor­ous, pump­ing groove. The kick and toms in the loop have be­come a weird ro­botic riff among the crunchy hats.

Next, we bring all 11 drum sounds back into the mix, then en­gage the Phaser. As well as im­part­ing the ex­pected ‘whoosh­ing’ ef­fect, this also damp­ens the loop’s heav­ily dis­torted top-end fre­quen­cies. Again, mut­ing drums helps us find com­pletely new cre­ations. Solo­ing the kick and toms now cre­ates sweep­ing synth-like tones.

Our drum ma­chine’s mono out­put is routed into our chain of three Mooger­fooger ped­als – a ring mod, phaser and cho­rus/flanger. Be­fore turn­ing the ef­fects ped­als on, we crank up the first pedal’s Drive knob to max­i­mum. This in­stantly dec­i­mates the clean loop into a crunchy, char­ac­ter­ful mess of ana­logue dis­tor­tion.

Cur­rently, all 11 of the TR-8’s drum chan­nels are play­ing. How will the pro­cess­ing re­act if we mute some of the drums? Pulling down TR-8 faders lets us try. Iso­lat­ing the hi-hats leaves us with an ag­gres­sive ‘top loop’, whereas the re­moval of ev­ery­thing ex­cept the kick, rimshots and small crash cre­ate a sparse, alien-like bub­bling ef­fect.

Fi­nally, we mute the Phaser, then turn the Clus­ter Flux on. It’s set to Cho­rus mode, with high neg­a­tive Feed­back, and Mix at half­way. Again, we have more luck when cer­tain drums are re­moved from the groove – with the bass drum and toms si­lenced, we cre­ate a bouncy metal­lic rhythm that sounds noth­ing like the sounds we started with. Mis­sion ac­com­plished!

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