Hi! I use Groove Agent as a live drum machine, with several footswitches than send midi notes. This is very interesting, a virtual drummer under your feet!
But there are some limitations that make it less functional than it could be. I’m sure that the Steinberg team could solve it programming, so I will start to ask for it. I hope that they will come in a maintenance or in a new version
- (The most anyonning): When you push a FILL pad, the fill doesn’t always respect what a drummer would play musically. I mean, the FILL doesn’t always play at the last bar of a rhythym. The only way to get it is pushing the pad during the 3rd bar of a rhythym pattern. And with luck! But that’s not easy, because you have to wait until the 3rd bar starts and be sure that you push the pad between the 3rd and the 4th. This don’t let you concentrate on the music you play and sometimes you get an awful fill at the 3rd bar or at the 1st bar of a new cycle.
Solution: it could be like all the drum machines and keyboard arrangers. In them, it doesn’t matter when you push the FILL button: the FILL always plays in the last bar of the rhythym pattern. Even more: if you push it after the start of the last bar, the FILL plays the part that remains to be played, so you get, at least, a little part of the FILL. Even the eight note part of the fill! That’s great! This way you don’t have to think to add live FILLS to your live performance. You can do it intuitively, based on your emotion, and you always get musical results. If all the drum machines and keyboard arrangers from the 80’s could do it, I think Groove Agent, too.
*Note: Steinberg could give it as an option. A) Musical FILLS (that always play at the last bar of a rhythym pattern). And B) Standard FILLS (that can play at any bar of the rhythym pattern).
Groove Agent could include an AUTO FILL option. As most keyboard arrangers, this would play a fill everytime that you push a pad to change the rhythym pattern. The fill would play before the new pattern comes, at the last bar of the rhythym pattern (musically). This adds a lot of dynamism to the performance and ease to get wonderful results.
Finally, Groove Agent could have the option to JUMP TO THE NEXT RHYTHYM PATTERN every time you push the button of a fill (like the “Intro” button drives to the first rhythym pattern). This way, you could progress across the structure of a song only playing some fills, always progressing to the next more complex one. You could do a “tour” around all the phases of the song by only playing fills. From the last variation it would return to the first rhythym variation (the simplest), and start the cycle again from there. This would add a lot of dynamism to the performance. A few pushes of buttons but a lot of results!
This is only a suggestion, but I doubt it can be changed, because the existing VST Sound Instruments for Groove Agent can be being used by a lot of musicians the way they came from factory. I’d like that the type of patterns (intros, endings, variations and fills) would come always on the same pads. Or at least, the same layout in a page of pads. This way, folks that have a 12 button footswitch like me (or a 16 button footswitch) could play all the Groove Agent kits from start without having to program every one. This would convert Groove Agent as a solid drum machine, playable by hardware. I have more than 300 kits and I’ll have to program all!
I think that my personal layout of the patterns is very functional for musicians. I have a 12 button footswitch (1, 2, 3 and 4 at the lower row… 5, 6, 7, 8 at the center row… and 9, 10, 11 and 12 at the upper row).
-ROW 1 to 4: four fills on the lower row, because that’s what drummers play more intensively and I want it to be the most accesible patterns. The fills go from the most simple and calmed (1) to the most complex and agressive (4).
-ROW 5 to 8: four rhythym variations, from the most simple and calmed to the most complex and agressive, to cover four parts of the structure a song (enough for most songs). If you select them well, you don’t need to have 8 or 12 variations at your disposal. And you always have the complexity vector in the edit page to tweak the pattern a bit while you play, for example, from an expression pedal. You have the intensity vector, too, to add even more variability (dynamics) to the four patterns you’ve selected.
-ROW 9 to 12: finally, here I program two intros and two endings, to have two options to start and finish a song. A short intro and a long one. A short ending and a long one.
Actually the pads layout isn’t solid and doesn’t represent something musical. It’s aleatory (in some kits you have the intro/endings at the bottom pads, in others you have the variations; in some kits the intro/endings are on another page; in some kits the fills are on the upper row, in other on the lower row, etc.). If Steinberg would include a pattern page like this in every kit they sell, they could convert Groove Agent a solid drum machine that could work in conjunction with 12 or 16 button footswitches. Footswitches specially crafted for Groove Agent that they would sell!
SUMMARY: I know this topic is long, but I prefer write it once and complete. It would be great if Steinberg arrange my four suggestions, but if they only do the first (MUSICAL FILLS THAT ONLY PLAY ON THE LAST BAR OF THE RHYTHYM PATTERN) I would be very happy too!! This would be a great improvement, so more musicians could use Groove Agent as a drum machine, live. Steinberg please! I love Groove Agent. I’ve bought ALL the extra kits. If the first suggestion is not solved, maybe I’ll have to switch to a hardware drum machine. I think the four improvements could be a quantum leap for the real and musical use of your fantastic virtual drum machine. I think they can be easily done and I hope to see them soon.