Sometimes…it honestly depends on what kind of music I’m making, and how much content I’m using from prefab libraries or live pattern generators VS my own custom ‘through composed’ grooves.
If I’m doing a through composed drum track…I don’t worry about the AG pattern player at all. I just build my percussion on MIDI tracks that trigger the individual kit pieces in GA and ignore all the GA ‘pattern building/playing’ features.
If I am using something like Acoustic Agent in GA to generate my percussion, then yes, I would drag the patterns I want onto MPC pads designated as part of a ‘pattern bank’, and trigger them via MIDI track, either during a live recording pass, or via the Scroll Editor (in this case I’d use the Key/Scroll editor instead of Diamond, because I also need easy control over when I ‘release the trigger key’). In this scenario, I’ve set up GA so that it only plays my patterns for as long as I’m HOLDING DOWN a key/pad. Again, I’m more or less ignoring some of the more powerful (live DJ style) features of the GA sequencer.
Note, when it comes to triggering patterns assigned to MPC pads…GA does give options far more geared to the DJ, Live Performer, or DPS style composer on how to trigger those things. You can indeed set up various latches and rules as to not require ‘holding the key/pad’ (as I described above). You can build it so it will endlessly repeat the last called pattern until you tap another pad. You can choose if it will finish playing a pattern/measure/etc, or jump instantly to the next one. These features are very attractive to people who like to simply start a bunch of things playing, and manipulate them live (and record all their live movements). I.E. Imagine a live DJ in a dance club with two or three turn tables going, plus multiple drum machines, a few synths, his Mics and effect processors, and on and on. Said DJ can start all this gear going…fade/punch/mute/solo what he wants to hear in and out on the Mixer (often using remote controllers that provide plenty of MPC style pads, jog wheels, scratch pads, an so forth), and be setting up his next texture/beat/mesh/effect in headphones until he’s ready to ‘fade or punch it into the mix’.
Anytime I want to simply build a pattern or sequence on my own, from scratch…I typically just use my preferred editor in the DAW, then import that into GA later if I decided I want it in there.
Note, GA has more than one type of engine for generating grooves within its own interface. Some kits and presets might offer you options through ‘Acoustic Agent’, which has a system of dials and buttons, along with an engine that can generate live percussion variations ‘on the fly’. Other presets might instead give you ‘lists’ of patterns to choose from, and a Diamond Editor for tweaking the loop(s). To get a better idea of what is offered here…it’s imperative to simply spend a bit of time ‘browsing’ all the kits and presets that came with GA. Peek at all the tabs and consult the OM when you want to get deeper into understanding the less obvious facets of all the patch and pattern engines it offers.
One thing that is different about GA…is that it integrates well with Cubase, so rather than build a bunch of extra displays and editors into GA itself…the engine instead hooks well into the plethora of editors and engines provided by the DAW itself.
I.E. If you wanted to sample your own drum kit from top to bottom. Instead of trying to do all this through GA itself…you’d just record into the DAW, using the endless features it provides to capture your samples. From there, you can just drag parts from the DAW right into GA and build your kit.
Building fresh patterns and grooves…similar concept. Since GA integrates well into Cubase, and shares its Media Browser, you can literally build a groove in the DAW on a MIDI track, and drag its parts right into GA.
So…if you’re used to seeing some feature in other MPC software that seems to be missing in GA…don’t forget that the DAW itself is pretty well tied in with GA, and there’s probably several tools in the DAW that can do it better anyway.