I currently use drumtrax (www.drumtrax.com). Contains a bunch of MIDI files with all sorts of categories. I piece stuff togehter and render with whatever sample library I desire. But I am wondering what the latest tools of the trade are. What are people doing to compose realistic drums? Are there other tools out there that contain a bunch of MIDI files (recorded by real players on electronic kit)?
I checked out Stylus demo but don't really like what I heard. I thought drumtrax rendered through good drum library blows it away for rock style.
Assuming you already have the samples you need and you're just looking specifically for software to generate/sequence beats... here are some of my favorite tools:
Slicydrummer and Fill-in Drummer (which apparently are bundled together now as one package in Drumtools) - Pretty solid results, quick and easy -- tweak to your taste
Jamstix 2 - Very intelligent, nothing pre-canned, style changes are very intuitive, zillions of features
Band-in-a-Box (especially with expansion packs) -- export to MIDI and tweak in your sequencer to fit your module. Jammer is another option but I don't have much experience with it.
Guru looks exceedingly cool, but I don't have any experience with it myself.
FruityLoops can be a lot of fun for creating drum tracks in a visual, experiment-as-you-go sort of way--especially for electronic drums tracks. I've never tried to use it for realistic, human-sounding drum tracks, but I doubt this would be its strong suit.
If you have good instincts, your best bet might be to play live on a drum pad controller (like the trigger finger or a higher-end piece of gear). You'd be surprised at what kind of cool stuff can come out after jamming for a while on one of these and then tweaking the results.
And the best tool of all is a non-technological one (unless you're living pre-gutenberg):
Actually, scratch that -- the best tool is a 6-pack of beer and a friend who plays drums. When this is not available, it might be worth checking out these guys (again, I have no experience with them but it's an interesting idea).
I've been getting smoking results with Toon tracks EZ Drummer. Great sounds and flexibility, thousands of loops, fills, intros, and libraries available from other developers as well (Groove Monkey has a really good jazz library that works great with EZ Drummer). Mixer screen available, different drums, muted and open, etc. Some real lunatic fills!
I feel very fortunate, in that I have "broken out" the clustered midi files of Clyde Stubblefield, and Burnard Purdee in EZ drummer, and wow, they just SMOKE the other "grooves" I have heard. These are old midifiles, that must be broken out in a program to use, and I dont know if they are even available any more. I am going to "hoard" them tho, lol. SMOKIN
Oh, and back on topic: nothing out there close to Jamstix for creating an authentic sounding drum performance. The jamming feature is loads of fun too - but can be a little unnerving first time you try it. The ghost in the machine!