Friday, July 20, 2018

The Rise Of The Sampling Pad In The Modern Drummer’s Setup | Music Think Tank

No matter how many times I hear the term “modern drummer,” I can’t help but imagine a player that has a smaller setup which includes a Roland SPD-SX. This product is part of a family of instruments known as drum sampling pads. Nearly all drummers I have toured with in the past few years have all had an SPD-SX or something similar. In fact, it’s almost uncommon that they don’t have one!

Sampling pads allow drummers to play grooves with electronic percussion, trigger synth lines, and even use backing tracks with a band. With the amount of expression and flexibility they offer a drummer, it makes sense why they have become so popular in the last ten years. Sure, electronic drums have been around since the 80s, but nothing has become as portable until now.

The big trend I’m noticing in a lot of setups is drummers who remove the rack tom in place of their sampling pad. Smaller kits seem to be the thing nowadays, but I still yearn for the times of a larger drum set.

No matter how many times I hear the term “modern drummer,” I can’t help but imagine a player that has a smaller setup which includes a Roland SPD-SX. This product is part of a family of instruments known as drum sampling pads.

Nearly all drummers I have toured with in the past few years have all had an SPD-SX or something similar. In fact, it’s almost uncommon that they don’t have one!Sampling pads allow drummers to play grooves with electronic percussion, trigger synth lines, and even use backing tracks with a band.

With the amount of expression and flexibility they offer a drummer, it makes sense why they have become so popular in the last ten years. Sure, electronic drums have been around since the 80s, but nothing has become as portable until now.The big trend I’m noticing in a lot of setups is drummers who remove the rack tom in place of their sampling pad. Smaller kits seem to be the thing nowadays, but I still yearn for the times of a larger drum set. 

Backing tracks are here to stay

Whether we want to accept it or not, backing tracks are extremely common in live music today. It’s rare to find a band that doesn’t use them. 

For those who don’t know, backing tracks aid a live band in performance. These tracks run in the background behind the band adding extra parts that may have been recorded in the studio such as harmonies, keyboard parts, sound effects, you name it. Setting up a setup that can run backing tracks can be difficult, but sampling pads do help.

Sampling pads can aid a drummer in the process of “running” a live show if its their job to control the playback. In our example, the computer running the backing tracks will be side-stage near the monitor mixing board.

The sampling pad communicates with the computer via MIDI and the drummer can then control the show from the stage. This is exactly how I use my drum pad, via MIDI. While this is only one use for a sample pad, I still can play samples in real time with pads I haven’t assigned to MIDI, as well as external drum pads that utilize the trigger inputs. 

For bands who use pre-recorded backing tracks, having a drummer play certain patterns or parts on an electronic drum pad can add back the human feel to sections of the songs that feel overly quantized or not human. Backing tracks are not inherently bad but can be abused easily.

Who doesn’t use MIDI technology these days?

MIDI technology is still alive and well. I think a lot of people use MIDI and don’t even realize it! It is utilized to this day in lighting rigs, recording studios, playback rigs, video playback, and even with animatronic musical robots. I still use the traditional 5-pin connections in my setup to this day. It truly is something to believe that it’s been around for more than twenty-five years and virtually is unchanged. 

With MIDI, I’m able to send control changes to Ableton live to change patches for me in real-time, during playback. For example, we may be in the middle of the song, and a control change will automatically change my malletKAT from a bass drum sample to a vibraphone. Not that I couldn’t physically make the change myself, but it’s just one less thing I must do. I can really focus on playing the part, rather than changing knobs.

Acoustic drum kits are still a big deal


Despite the growing trend in popularity for sampling pads, the electronic drum set isn’t utilized for performances as often. I believe it comes down a few factors: price, durability, ease of use, and transportation.

Some electronic drum kits are extremely expensive. Who is going to want to take their $6,000 Roland V Drums on a club tour? Transportation plays a huge role in that as well. Setup and take down of an electronic drum set is no easy task. Unless you have engineered a way to loom the cables, store the shells, and have a quick and easy way to pack them away, touring with an electronic drum set will not be fun.

The hybrid kit is the best of both worlds

With the trend of music becoming more and more electronic, hybrid kits make sense. There’s something still so awesome about acoustic drums resonating through a PA system at a live show that electronic drums just cannot replicate. As technology improves, I’m sure we’ll see more and more innovations in the drumming world for electronic and popular music. 



Certain Songs #1269: Neil Young & The International Harvesters – “Southern Pacific (St. Paul 9-1-1985)” | Medialoper

Album: A Treasure
Year: 1985

Recorded at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul on September 1, 1985

After Trans, things got weird. Think about that for a second.

Changing gears again, Neil recorded a full-blown country album called Old Ways. Geffen flat-out rejected it, saying that he wanted something that was rock ‘n’ roll. What he meant, of course, was Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere or Zuma, of course; what he got was Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere Close to Rockin’ Except For Techniclaly, shortened to Everybody’s Rockin’ & credited to Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks.

From what I could tell, Neil started with a “fuck him, if he wants rock ‘n’ roll, I’ll go straight to the source” and so Everybody’s Rockin’ was a full-out rockabilly album — the only thing it was missing was good songs — by the end of which, he was as into the rockabilly guy as he was into the new wave guy: fully and completely right up until the moment he wasn’t. That commitment led to the only good thing to come from the project, the weirdly hilarious video for “Wonderin,” which was part of the pattern during this lost period: even when the records weren’t all that great, there was always some kind of performance that was still compelling.

In any event, after Everybody’s Rockin’ tanked, Geffen sued Neil Young for making “unrepresentative” albums, which seemed strange at the time and downright hilarious today. While the lawsuit was pending, he put together a band of Nashville vets and Neil vets, dubbed them the “International Harvesters” and played shows with them from 1984 – 1986, including Live Aid, Farm Aid, and Austin City Limits.

So while the version of Old Ways (which Neil calls Old Ways II) that finally came out in October, 1985 after the lawsuit was settled was fine — check the raucous version of “Get Back to The Country” w/ my man Waylon Jennings — by that time, I’d seen some of the International Harvester performances, and wanted a full album of that. Because even without Crazy Horse or grungy guitars, Neil could still bring it live, and in fact, it was seeing him kill it with the International Harvesters that stoked my fandom the most during this period.

Not only did Neil bring it — expected, but still nice to see — I was surprised how the fiddles and banjos of the International Harvesters added new dimensions to songs like “Helpless,” “Powderfinger,” and (especially) “Southern Pacific,” a train song from Re*ac*tor that took on a whole new life during these performances.

Down the mountainside
To the coastline
Past the angry tide
The mighty diesel whines

On Re*ac*tor, while Billy Talbot’s bass lines were pretty cool, Ralph Molina’s drum part kept “Southern Pacific” tied to the tracks, but with Rufus Thibodeaux making his fiddle sound like a mournful train whistle and Anthony Crawford’s banjo providing the momentum, “Southern Pacific” feels like a locomotive just chugging through the landscape. All the more to highlight Neil’s sympathetic lyric about a train conductor who had given his life to a railroad.

And the tunnel comes
And the tunnel goes
Round another bend
The giant drivers roll
I rode the Highball
I fired the Daylight
When I turned sixty-five
I couldn’t see right
It was “Mr. Jones
We’ve got to let you go
It’s company policy
You’ve got a pension though”

Alternating electric guitar leads with steel guitar leads with fiddle leads with banjo leads, the International Harvesters completely cook throughout, but especially they all combine voices for the chorus.

Roll on, Southern Pacific
On your silver rails
On your silver rails
Roll on, Southern Pacific
On your silver rails

Of course, this performance stayed in the can for nearly 30 years, and wasn’t released until 2011’s A Treasure, one of the greatest of Neil’s releases of live material that had been sitting in the archives. David Geffen would have had a conniption, of course, had Neil released A Treasure in 1985 instead of Old Ways (II), but it would have stood as his greatest album of the 1980s (outside of Freedom, of course).

In the end, Neil inhabits the conductor, calling out the number of the train, as well as the next stop, and as they pull into the stop, the train slows down and pulls right into the station.

“Southern Pacific” (St Paul 9-1-1985) (audio only)

“Southern Pacific” live in Toronto 1985

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Certain Songs #1268: Neil Young – “Transformer Man” | Medialoper

Album: Trans
Year: 1982

Recorded at Broken Arrow Ranch on December 11, 1981

(Or I How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The BEEP BOOP)



What the fuck?

No, seriously, what the fuck?

This is the fuck: Trans was Neil Young’s 12th solo album, but it was the first album he recorded for Geffen Records after leaving Reprise for his longtime friend David Geffen’s brand-new label. And while all of the usual suspects are on it — Crazy Horse, Nils Lofgren, Ben Keith, even Bruce Palmer from Buffalo Springfield — it didn’t sound like anything he’d done before, which was on purpose: Neil stripped all of the “normal” instrumentation from the songs and added synth riffs via the Synclavier and ran his vocals through a vocoder.

Transformer man, transformer man
You run the show (duh-dul-duh-duh-diddle-duh)
Remote control (duh-dul-duh-duh-diddle-duh)
Direct the action with the push of a button
You’re a transformer man
Power in your hand
Transformer man, transformer man

The goal: to reproduce the frustration he felt trying to communicate with his son, Ben, who had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and had necessitated Neil and wife Pegi go through a very long and arduous therapy program for much of 1980 – 1982. This has already affected his focus on the two previous albums, and now it affected the actual music.

But here’s the thing: none of this music was ever intended for release: it was all recorded while he was under contract w/ Reprise, and he’d actually decamped to Hawaii with the gang and they’d recorded a whole album called Islands in the Sun, which was scrapped when David Geffen thought “meh.”

So my take on it was Neil was like “fuck this” and ate the lemons and went back to the new wave tracks instead of recording new ones, commissioned a stupidly cool album cover and just combined the two projects. Neither the first nor the last time he’d do such a thing. But it was the first time where nothing on the album sounded like what you’d expect from an artist on his 12th solo album.

What threw me even more than the new wave songs — I mean the man had worked with Devo in the late 1970s — were the rock songs bookending the whole thing: “Little Thing Called Love” nor “Like An Inca” felt like Neil Young lite, and made even less sense surrounding all of the synthy-new wave songs than flat-out Crazy Horse rockers would have made.

In any event, twenty-year-old Jim was having none of it. The rock songs were wussy and the synth songs were unintelligible, and even though Tim stanned hard for Trans, it felt like a misfire to me, an instant punchline, and while I occasionally tried to get on board the future train, it escaped me.

Transformer man, transformer man
Sooner or later you’ll have to see
The cause and effect
So many things still left to do
But we haven’t made it yet
Every morning
When I look in your eyes
I feel electrified by you. Oh yes


Of course, none of this mattered: based upon his 1970s, Neil Young already had a lifetime pass, and as the decade wore on, we got Everybody’s Rockin’ Old Ways, Landing on Water, Life and This Note’s For You, only one of which I enjoyed, but taken together, seemed to help validate the artistic risks he was taking.

Meanwhile, at some point after becoming the manager of the Video Zone, I purchased Neil Young Live in Berlin — which I vaguely recall watching on probably Nite Flite or some such thing — to play at the store on occasion. But I usually skipped the Trans songs for the more rockier stuff, because of course I do.


Over a decade later — long after I had consigned Trans to the dustbin of history, especially in the wake of Freedom, Ragged Glory & Harvest Moon — Neil Young Unplugged comes out, on the heels of his commercial rebirth, and while most of the performances are . . . fine, the one I truly love is “Transformer Man,” which, stripped back to an straightforward folk rock song — backing vocals emphasized and Spooner Oldham’s organ replacing all of the synths — is absolutely gorgeous. So I went back to Trans, and kinda got it a little more. Nah. Not really. But I tried.

Nevertheless, “Transformer Man,” at least this version, sticks in my head, and makes it too all subsequent Neil Young best-of tapes, CDs and playlists.


During the heyday of Usenet, somebody posted a rip of the DVD of the aforementioned Neil Young Live in Berlin, and both “Transformer Man” and “Sample and Hold” jumped out at me, though admittedly they weren’t all that different from the album versions — and in the video I’m posting below only reinforces that fact, though I kinda love the goofy dance the as-always-up-for-anything Nils Lofgren is doing — and at the time, the highlight of the set from me was the song “Berlin,” written specifically for the show, and probably never performed since.

But I didn’t go back and dig up Trans proper. I’d already done that.


In preparation for these posts I want to be throrough and give Trans (and Landing in Water) (though not Everybody’s Rockin’ cos there are limits) one last go-round in light of my tastes widening as I’ve gotten older.

And maybe because we’ve had a decade of auto-tune and robots and ever other damn thing in popular music — not to mention that Neil was going through a period that was nearly as weird and eclectic as his 1980s, even experimenting with auto-tune on one of his best songs of the decade, “My Pledge” — Trans finally made sense to me. I got the juxtapositions between the vocodered leads and human backing vocals, and the tension between the synths and Neil’s never-tamed guitars and suddenly, it wasn’t just “Transformer Man,” but also “Computer Age,” “Sample and Hold” and “We R in Control.” Hell, even “Like an Inca” got better, after I realized that it stole some of its melody from “Hitchhiker.” It all really is one song.

I’d never say that Trans is a great Neil Young album, but I do now think that it’s his best record between between Rust Never Sleeps and Life — which sure, isn’t saying that much — and even with the yacht rock songs, pretty much succeeds on its own terms. Transformer man, indeed.

“Transformer Man”

“Transformer Man” live in Berlin, 1982

“Transformer Man” MTV Unplugged, 1993


Nintendo Sues Console ROM Sites For ‘Mass’ Copyright Infringement | TorrentFreak

Emulators are handy tools for people who want to play games on platforms other than the usual console they’re intended for.

These are particularly useful for retro games and consoles, which are no longer sold, allowing users to enjoy the games they were hooked on decades ago.

However, many game publishers are less content with this practice. Nintendo, in particular, has repeatedly called out ROMS and emulator sites, both in and outside the United States.

This week, Nintendo took two of these sites to court. In a complaint filed at a federal court in Arizona, the game publisher sues and for copyright and trademark infringement.

Both sites are believed to be operated by Jacob Mathias and his Arizona company Mathias Designs LLC. They offer access to a wide variety of ROMs, including many Nintendo games.

“The LoveROMs and LoveRETRO websites are among the most open and notorious online hubs for pirated video games,” Nintendo writes in the complaint.

“Through the LoveROMs and LoveRETRO websites, Defendants reproduce, distribute, publicly perform and display a staggering number of unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s video games, all without Nintendo’s permission.”

In addition to the copyrighted games, the sites also distribute proprietary BIOS software, while using trademarked logos and characters, Nintendo notes.

While some ROMs sites may be hobby projects, Nintendo sees these two sites as professional operations that profit from its works.

“Defendants are not casual gamers but are instead sophisticated parties with extensive knowledge of Nintendo’s intellectual property and the video game industry more generally,” the company notes.

LoveROMS complaint

Through the lawsuit, which also lists a count of unfair competition, Nintendo hopes to shut both sites down. The company requests statutory damages of $150,000 per infringing Nintendo game and up to $2,000,000 for each trademark infringement.

This means that, with more than 140 copyrighted titles and 40 trademarks on the record, theoretical damages could go up to a staggering $100 million.

Nintendo further requests a permanent injunction ordering the sites to stop their infringing activities while handing over domain names to the game publisher. At the same time, Nintendo wants the operator of the sites to reveal the sources for the infringing ROMs.

The defendant has yet to respond publicly to the allegations and at the time of writing both and remain online.

A copy of Nintendo’s complaint, obtained by TorrentFreak, is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.


YouTube Exands Merch Sales, Channels To More Creators | hypebot

YouTube CreatorsYouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has shared an update that focuses on the streamer's top five priorities for 2018.  At least three of the updates are great news for musicians and other creators.


  • Merchandise Sales - The threshold for eligible U.S.-based channels has been lowered from 100,000 to just 10,000 subscribers. YouTube hinted that number may go even lower.  It is also expanding its merchandising partners beyond Teespring, but has not named any new providers. 
  • Channel Memberships - Viewers pay a monthly recurring fee of $4.99 to get unique badges, new emojis, members-only posts in the Community tab, and access to unique custom perks offered by creators, such as exclusive livestreams, extra videos, or shout-outs. After a beta test with a small group of creators, YouTube is now expanding it to eligible channels with more than 100,000 subscribers and "even more creators in the coming months"
  • Famebit - Acquired by Google in 2016, FameBit helps brands tap into YouTube's audience to develop unique branded content at scale. Over half of channels that used Famebit in the first three months of 2018 doubled their revenue, according to YouTube.
  • Tickets!?! - In the coming months, YouTube and Famebit are adding a feature that will allow users to easily shop for products, apps or tickets directly from the creator watch page.
  • More here.

Daily News Highlights: Friday, July 20th, 2018 | The Daily Rind

Spotify hires Arab Music editor ahead of Middle East push Now 18% of Americans Own a Smart Speaker Welcome to Nashville: The New Scoring Destination Instagram’s new status dots tell you if your contacts are online – but you can turn them off

The post Daily News Highlights: Friday, July 20th, 2018 appeared first on The Daily Rind.


TOP POSTS: This Week’s Most Read Posts On Hypebot | hypebot

6a00d83451b36c69e201b7c907b568970b-150wiSome chart-topping articles from the pages of Hypebot this week looked at 2018's leading MTV VMA nominees, why Apple Music's passing of Spotify could also have a downside, Spotify's opening up of access to its official playlists, and more.