Thanks for reminding me of that. I have this concept for a workflow based off of Beat Designer, where I want to build up the kit and what it plays at the same time. It’s a long, strange tale that goes contrary to current design and conventional practice.
Common Practice #1: Start with a Beat.
The writer starts with a drum beat and builds around it. Cubase has many resources serving this approach. Groove Agent has pattern libraries triggered by pads. Acoustic agent even has a dial that does style, complexity, and intensity. World percussion has pattern libraries too. Steinberg keeps offering them, so they must be popular.
My approach to writing emphasizes melody. Groove is essential, but I think of it in the context of melody, lyrics, mood, sonic texture, and so on. I can barely play drums. I certainly don’t compose of drums-first. Even if I did, I’d use my imagination instead of a pattern bank. I do find these collections educational, however.
Common Practice #2: Start with a Blank Slate.
The writer enters the intended beat, probably one or two drums at a time. Entry can be via MIDI keyboard or drum editor. My keyboard entry is too imprecise for drum parts, and my drum editor workflow isn’t very smooth. One is also locked into the currently loaded kit, but we can open a second instance of GA and drag drum sound onto the pads of the current kit. There’s a lot of cumulative awkwardness in all this.
My 3rd Way
I seems to need at least 2 passes to lay down a song.
- The song is written long before the first pass. Many of the parts are written out in pencil on multi-staff score sheets. However, I can only hold (at most) half a dozen independent lines in my head at any time. The exact chord voicings tend to suffer in my imagination, even with the score in front of me.
- So I work out the details in the DAW. This is the first pass. I record the most important parts first, the parts that drive the song. There are revisions. Additional parts are added, including a drum part that amounts to more than a quarter note kick-snare pattern.
- I abandon this project after all the musical problems have been solved, then start from scratch. This is the second pass, and it begins with drums, bass, and rhythm tracks. It’s the classic recording session method. Parts go down more or less in order of decreasing loudness in the final mix.
So my problem is writing the drums during the arranging pass.
I find drums need to be written while the music loops over a 4 or 8 bar cycle. It needs to be heard in motion, preferably with the other parts. The give and take, the relative velocity of the hits, the offset from the beat, the individual drum sounds, and other factors can _completel_y change the feel. Beat Designer, handles these considerations well, except for drum sounds. I’d like to be able to easily change between 150 different candidates for snare drum.
Problem #1: Few of the kits are “All snares”, and those that are can’t contain incompatible sources (such as mixing beat agent and acoustic agent and world percussion). So I listened to thousands of drums and collected them into custom kits dedicated to cover this or that particular drum sound. Now they’re all in one place. I can drag from the custom kit to a target kit. Any yet…
Problem #2: There drums outside of GA in HALion, world percussion, and elsewhere. They need their own tracks. So I have to use a MIDI send from Beat Designer to do this. I seem to have found a way, thanks to your help. But this test has only been done with MIDI recorded on a MIDI track. Can it be done directly form Beat Designer? That brings us to…
Problem #3: AFAIK, there’s no way to assign MIDI channels to lanes in Beat Designer. Since I’m the only person on Earth that wants this, it’s not going to happen. (Could I sneak channels into Beat Designer by imported channel-bearing MIDI notes?) Furthermore, my experiments indicate that Beat Designer has an internal store of MIDI data, much like a flex phraser or any sequencer. The internal store must be exported to a MIDI track before in order to add channel information. Abandoning the channel-based approach in favor of a note based approach might avoid this step.
Regarding dissolve part: Certainly a worthy suggestion, but it would only work after the Beat Designer store has been exported. I’m sure it would work, but I’d really like to make this workflow concept into a reality that’s as efficient as possible.