04 Aug 2009

Alesis DM10 Pro

Alesis DM10 Pro

This was an interesting project. The guys at Alesis asked me if I could create a bunch of practice patterns for a electronic drum set they had coming out called the DM10 Pro. These are kind of like built-in “Jamey Aebersold” play along tunes where the drummer can mute the drum part and play against the other accompaniment¬†parts. The accompaniment parts consisted of a bass line which played back by the DM10′s internal sounds and an “accompaniment” track. This accompaniment¬†track basically anything I could record as audio. So I could record someone singing, playing guitar, piano, my dog barking…anything! The only problem was, recording audio takes space in the memory and there wasn’t a lot of space to create a bunch of audio for the 20-odd patterns I made.

Because we were working within a restrictive memory budget for the audio portion of the patterns, I had to take a very syncopated approach while composing. I mean, a sustained pad or piano chord wasn’t going to work unless that was the only thing I wanted in the entire pattern. Even then, if the pattern was at a slow tempo, just a single sustained chord might use the entire memory budgeted for that pattern and 2 or 3 others. The upside was, polyphony wasn’t a problem because you could layer a bunch of sounds to create a sample as you wanted; you just could make it very long.

Fortunately, drum parts tend to be more fun when they’re syncopated so I tried to write more with the bass and drums. Although, I suppose the drums would be the first thing a drummer mutes when they sit down to play the thing!

Alesis wanted to do a lot of rock patterns so I broke out the guitar and tried to get my playing in order. All I can say about my guitar playing is, thank God for digital audio editing. I also used my Fender Rhodes, Yamaha VL1 and Dave Smith Instruments Mopho on a few patterns.

At the Summer NAMM 2009 show here in Nashville, I finally got to meet Jim Norman from Alesis. I’ve been working on projects for him for the past few years but we’d never met. I also got to see the DM10 for the first time. Here’s a shot from Alesis’ Facebook page with Darrin James laying it down. moz screenshot Alesis DM10 Pro

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Darrin James and the DM10 Pro

Here are a few of the patterns. Note, I didn’t have the final sounds when I made these so you’re not hearing what’s in the DM10. The drum sounds are from Logic and the bass is from the Alesis SR-18.

My favorite pattern is this jazz pattern. I was able to actually get melody AND harmony into a single pattern. The very high tempo and vamping chords help. The horns came from the VL1, I believe the piano is one of the pianos from Logic and the guitar is me playing my Yamaha SBG-2000.

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I also really like this Acid Jazz pattern. The drums are from Logic and bass from the SR-18. The Rhodes is my Dyna-my-Rhodes and the guitar is me playing my SBG-2000.

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My main man, John DePatie (a guy who can REALLY play guitar) helped me out with this Stevie Ray Vaughn-influenced pattern. Drums again are from Logic and bass from the SR-18. I believe John was playing his Strat for this one.

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Finally, here’s the overall demo which was very interesting to put together. Basically, I just edited together excerpts from a few of the patterns. However, there was some really tricky math involved because we always had to start on a downbeat. In order to make that happen, I had to create a lot of odd-metered bars and tempo changes:

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