It is 2020, there's a pandemic, human drummers are far away from you but worry not, Logic's drummer which may seem simplistic, easy to use tool without any human connectivity at first is actually quite powerful. I have to admit that when they first released the drummer back in 2015 or so, it was the biggest relief and over the years, the more that I have played with the drummer and got to know it better, the more grateful I am to have it in my life. Here are some of my personal tips and tricks that I use with Logic Drummer:
1. One of the first thing I do is programming a drum pattern or using a reference track for “feel” or groove that I am going for and making the drummer “follow” it. One could then mute the track that the drummer is following but it would still keep reading the wave form or MIDI data on the file. This is a good technique to make Logic's drummer follow your lead.
2. Layering Logic's drummer with other percussion and percussive effects. Adding a little percussive shimmer here and there to strengthen the drummer and combining them by bussing them out to one bus and further blending them in. I often add reverse cymbals to create separation between sections.
3. Chopping up the drummer into a number of sections and then fine tuning the swing and fill function along with the yellow dot is one way of adding intricacy. If you go deep into the advanced settings, you could add ghost notes & change specific drum sounds
4. Keep dynamics in mind and use common sense to bring certain drum elements in and out of the production: You could chop the drummer track in numerous sections and use the individual drum settings to do this. For example, keeping only the kick + snare on the verses and introducing high hats or shakers on the choruses.
5. Using multiple drummer tracks to build up the arrangement: Playing with 2 or 3 drummer tracks and having different sections on each can be a good place to start, let's say one track is playing the kick, one the snare and the other high hats - now you can realistically pan out the drum kit.
6. The drummer does some killer fills which are a pain to program, playing with the swing + fill function on the side is a great way of getting the drummer to do what you really want it to do.
7. Transforming a drummer track into a normal green MIDI track by dragging and dropping it onto a normal Green MIDI track and choosing a similar or same drum sound can give you a plethora of permutations and combinations to go into the velocity and length of each and every note and humanize it to your advantage and fine tune it. Remember, the more you massage it the better it works - always the rule for working with anything MIDI.
8. Play with it in the mix: Sending all of your drum tracks to one bus and playing with effects to add more stereo width and depth would be one of my final go - to techniques. Parallel compression and side chaining with the bass may work depending on the production - I would only do this if I am going for the typical pumping effect, but the compressor can get louder and out of control over time if not timed properly. EQing, distorting the sound a bit, filtering and bussing it out to Sound Toys devil loc. Using the Waves drum plugin (any) works real well, specially if you are going for a stadium//industrial vibe, they have a tendency to add huge bouts of air changing the sound completely and taking it to the next level.
9. Lastly, I’d bounce it into place and give it a few shakes. By the time I’m done with it and it’s fully mixed and mastered, it’s highly unlikely that most listeners will be able to tell it’s the drummer unless Logic drummer Ronnie is their best friend of course !
Over all, at the end of the day, whether you use Logic's drummer, program the drums or work with a human being, it is ultimately the message you are trying to convey with the song that should be your number one priority.
Inorganic + inanimate + simplistic drum sounds have their place artistically - the lack of air//human touch is 100% acceptable in certain scenarios. It conveys a sense of vacuum//helplessness//suppression//isolation//disconnect - Linkin Park + Eminem are good examples for life being sucked out around the main character. Thinking of building your instrumental tracks in and seeing them in terms of movie characters that revolve around the main voice is a great way of working past normal conforms that have been constructed in today's day and age. If you listen closely to Eminem's biggest single, Lose Yourself, you will hear that the beat that goes on da-da-da-dum is actually quite a simple inorganic beat. And if you've seen the movie, it would make complete sense.
This is a good time to explore the feelings that the pandemic has brought up on us, I hope this piece helps you explore another side of MIDI.
Bye for now, please reach out if you have any questions, until then enjoy!