Emily Dolan Davies How to use samples and electronics
This is a post for anyone wanting to use electronic samples as part of their setup. Although this is mainly aimed at drummers, I have seen bassists and keys players also using them, so whatever floats your boat.As everyone uses different stuff to do what they need to do, I’m going to just provide a checklist of key things you will need to know how to do on a typical pop gig. Finding out how to is up to you via manuals and videos.
How to create a new patch – This is where each lot of samples per song will be
How to import your own samples – this is key so you can use sounds off the artists songs, so make sure your bit of kit can do this
How to normalize samples – This makes all the samples the maximum volume they can be so you’re staring on a fairly even keel when switching between samples
How to assign a sample to a pad – No point of having a sample if you aren’t able to plat it!
Volume adjustment of samples – The Musical Director might want the kick on this kit up a bit and the snare down… know how to do this quickly and seamlessly,and everyone will be so happy you’re not wasting their time
Volume of overall patch – If the whole patch is too quiet, you don’t want to be spending hours putting each sample up or down in volume, thats way too time consuming for my laziness
Trigger Velocity – This is how hard you need to hit a pad for a sample for it to sound, make sure it’s not so low that you have a problem with…
Cross-Talk – This isn’t too necessary if you’re using a unit like a DTX M12, but if you have external pads, sometimes the vibrations from hitting one pad, or a sub under the stage will trigger another pad. Learn how to change this quickly as sometimes you might have to fiddle with it during a show (usually festivals)
Sample Velocity – Similar to Trigger Velocity but this will give you a range of how loud or quiet the sample will come out depending on how hard you strike the pad. I find for the majority of pop gigs, all samples are at 127 velocity, so its consistent with every strike!
Rolling off the attack – I learnt this to be really good for anyone using acoustic triggers on kick drums. You get the natural attack off the acoustic kick, but the tail of the sample, and as long as you have a good FOH, then it all should blend fairly seamlessly
How to Loop – Sometime the artist will just want a single sample to keep looping, find out how to start and stop it, and also most modules have an emergency stop that stops everything. Lifesaver!
Click – Most modules will also have an inbuilt click which you need to find out if you can route out separately just to you (i.e. to the headphone socket) so no-one else has to hear it’s dulcet tones if they don’t want to.
Panning/Multi Outs – To keep your FOH very very happy, either pan you samples Left and Right (Kicks left, Snares and others Right), or assigned to individual outputs (1 kicks, 2 snares, 3 percussion, 4 misc etc), this way they can mix it all a lot easier and bring up any samples that aren’t coming through, or bring down any jumping out, on the fly
SAVE! And BACKUP! – I haven’t lost too many files over the years, but in my books, losing 1 is 1 too many!
This should be enough to get you going and be ready for your first gig incorporating electronics!