I just got Atsia from Sonic Implants, and cannot recommend it highly enough. But it got me to thinking. Are there any libraries out there which have sampled hits on lots of drums at once?
We have an African Drum group here at school, led by our percussion teacher, who frequently play music involving unison patterns on 25 djembes. I know this isn't terribly authentic as far as Ewe music goes, but it's very impressive. Obviously this couldn't be built up by layering solo djembe - at least not unless there are a lot more solo djembe libraries out there than I'm aware of.
The same goes for Samba instruments. The sound of the massed Surdos of a Batucada school is just massively different from the sound of the solo Surdos found in most sample libraries. Or 90 Tamborims, 20 Pandeiros, etc...
Does anyone know of any libraries that cater for building large unison hits like this? If not, maybe I'll have to pay our percussion teacher some overtime and sample a bunch of our students playing.
Yea, when I went to the summer namm in Nashville a couple years ago, after the last day there was a huge group outside (like 50?) the convention center, all with a djembe, conga, large drums, ect. They all played in tempo, each of them with their own individual flare (not percussionists, just customers) - and it sounded awesome! Felt like a bloody caveman.
I think multiple solo hits would be the best approach . Sample the same hit 10 times for start (same velocity), and insert the notes very loose in your sequencer partially random, or, just load the humanizer script in K2 to muffle up the start times .
I think that if you had recording of ensemble hits it would sound a bit fake when playing fast ( not sure on that )
We have a gigantic drum jam here in Dallas, which has existed for over ten years. Last time I went, it had dwindled a bit, but it goes up and down depending on who's in town and how many players show up. On the nights when it is slamming, the best drummers in Dallas are all there, and oftentimes lots of special guests. Babatunde Olatunji used to come play with us several times a year, whenever he was in the area. What an amazing guy, and what a loss that he is gone now.
One of the craziest nights we ever had was when the Riverdance ensemble was in town doing a run, and they had heard about the jam and showed up en masse. Talk about a nutty juxtaposition, all those riverdancers doing their "clogging thing" with this Afro/latin slamfest. But it was great, everyone had a blast, many got laid. All good.
There is nothing like the sound of a bunch of drums outside, but it is one of those nightmarishly difficult sounds to record and reproduce. As you know, the volume level of 25 djembes is literally deafening--it is probably the loudest drum on the planet, with just one djembe quite literally capable of exceeding the threshold of pain. Twenty-five can ruin your hearing in one night. I always wear plugs when I get anywhere near our jam--even though it's outside, it's lethal to the ears.
So, the phenomenon that you're fighting in reproducing this is not just the availability of enough solo samples, but that our automatic "compression" kicks in when we're hearing a huge drum circle like this, and our brains have the smoothest compressors in the world. Recording technology doesn't have the easy means to reproduce the overall sensation. Our bodies are being pounded with the impact. When this is recorded and reproduced, even well recorded and well produced, the end result sounds decidedly "wimpier" than the real thing. The closest parallel I can think of is the sound of thunder or a train whistle...sounds which have a unique, primal impact when we hear them in air, but when recorded lose the "magic."
Bruce, you're right. I hadn't thought before just how much the experience of these drums is one that comes through the gut and feet. It's not just a difference between solo and ensemble timbre, there's a complete difference in how your brain gets the signals. I think I'm after something that just can't be done with samples - at least not without several 30000w subwoofers.