Greetings. I am a professional music producer and live performer who began using Groove Agent One when it was released many years ago. While I occasionally used it in the studio, 90% of the time it was used onstage. In conjunction with Ableton Live I have played for eighteen years as a keyboardist and one-man band creating music on the fly and also remixing tracks. Groove Agent was an essential part of that, as it gave me full control of a ‘drummer’ onstage.
My system was completely midi-controlled to allow instant changing of kits, style, complexity, fills and effects. With Groove Agent I could compose full pieces of music live onstage, and it worked more or less seamlessly for a decade.
Since Groove Agent One is now too old to operate on my modern system, I took the plunge with GA 5 last week, and I am writing to express both my deep disappointment but also in a desperate hope there is a way to move forward.
I’ve been making music on computers since the early 90’s, and first I must say that GA 5 is one of the most non-intuitive and overly-complex VSTs I’ve ever encountered. The sounds and patterns are fantastic and I have no complaints there. But GA 5 seems to be overwhelmingly geared towards studio production instead of live performance. I am regretful of my purchase, but perhaps I am missing a way forward which is why I’m writing.
Here’s where I’m at :
–Choosing the ‘Style’ button instead of ‘MIDI’ gives me pattern choices similar to GA1, but the only styles are acoustic/traditional drum patterns like Rock, Country, Jazz, etc. GA1 and GA2 (which I also used) had Style patterns for Electronic, Dance, TripHop, etc. Why are there no styles for modern beats, allowing for live drum control but with modern styles? There are MIDI patterns for modern styles, yes. But not a ‘Style Mode’ wherein I control Intensity, Complexity, etc. This in itself would have prevented my purchase. Hopefully I’m just missing something?
–Most importantly, GA1 and GA2 allowed for any kit to be performed with any style. I have spent days trying to find this method in 5, and there does not seem to be any such control. In fact, the “GM Program Change” option does not work at all. I have now tried with embedded program changes, two different midi controllers, and two different MAX 4 Live devices that send program changes. Groove Agent 5 simply does not respond to any program change that I can detect. The original Groove Agent had sliders that went between styles and kits, and these were midi-controllable.
In 2004 I was able to play a techno kit with a jazz drum style, a funk style with an 80’s kit, a drum ‘n’ bass kit with a disco style…all on stage…all midi controllable. I would like to understand why this now seems completely impossible with a program fifteen years more advanced. If there is a method to ‘dumb down’ GA5 so that it responds much more like earlier Groove Agents, I will absolutely be satisfied with my purchase and will be extremely grateful I can continue with my performances as they used to be. Otherwise I will need to discuss a refund. I am already not using 80% of GA5’s studio capabilities, and I expected that. What I did not expect is that the other 20% wouldn’t work either.
I have great respect for Steinberg and I look forward to a resolution and hopefully a technique to bring Groove Agent back to its original onstage power. Thank you.