Aside from my guitar, the tool I spend the most time with while writing a Song A Day is Logic, Apple's pro-level digital audio workstation. I switched to Logic from Reason—there's a joke here, but honestly I just can't find it—about a year and a half ago, in part because of Jim Dalrymple and his explanation of a music option called Drummer.
Drummer is the kind of feature that I hate to love. I use it ALL THE TIME, but it just feels too… easy. Nothing this easy should sound this good. It's like cheating. It's not going to replace a flesh and blood human, but for demos and for making something quickly (like, say, in a day), it's amazing.
See that little matrix? All you need is four variables: Simple/Complex, Loud/Soft. Pretty self-explanatory. To the right of that, you can choose (broadly) which percussion instruments you want the Drummer to play, and adjust sliders for variations on the beats. Click on "details," and you can fine tune just about everything in the instruments' sound.
As a result, you get an amazingly powerful and versitile tool for creating great-sounding drums. With some tweaking, I've fooled recording engineer friends into thinking that this collection of midi-triggered samples is the real deal. It's kind of nuts.
But I'm not here today to talk about what I hate to love about Drummer. I'm here to tell you what I love to hate.
And OH do I love to hate it.
Drummer comes with a collection of 28 "Drummers", split into categories, each with their own distinct style of playing. Each "Drummer" is also accopanied by a description of what they and their drum kit sound like.
THESE DESCRIPTIONS ARE AMAZING.
WHOEVER WROTE THEM DESERVES A RAISE.
So, without further adieu, I present my top five and bottom five Logic Drummers—based both on how much I employ their services and also the ridiculousness of their descriptions.
The bottom five
#5: Graham the Hipster
Look at this hipster. Just LOOK at him. He's "experimental" AND "viruosic". Well excuuuuuuse me Mr. Graham! Take your processed sounding kit and go home. I run a tight 3 chord ship around here. No bending of genres allowed. Your kind is not welcome.
#4: Anders the Hair Metal shredder
Oh, grind me some of those massive beats, Anders. MMMMMMHMMMM. I just love the way your massive kit grinds out all those beats. Hot damn!
#3: Gavin and his "street cred"
Don't worry Gavin, I am thrilled that you went to music school. That makes one of us, at least. NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE can doubt your street cred as long as you keep that handlebar-mustache-soul-patch-with-aviator-glasses thing you've got going on. Your cred is secure, man, your cred is secure.
#2: Ian the disappointment
Ian, you just disappoint me. I'm always trying to get you grooving your intricate beats all over my songs but it just never works. Maybe they're just a little too grooving and a little too intricate. Maybe I need to be on drugs to apprecaite your playing. Whatever the case, I always feel like it's somehow my fault when it doesn't work out. Which is just ridiculous.
#1: Kyle the Bland
Kyle. Kyle Kyle Kyle. You are the default drummer in Logic and you really, truely live up to that title. Bland. Unassuming. Comfortable with most genres — of course you are. You're straightforward, you're versatile — which is just another way of saying that no one will ever be offended by you. You're boring. Sorry, dude. Someone had to say it.
The top five
#5: Boom Bap Maurice
In a recent update to Logic, Apple added a few new drummer categories. One of them was rap, and Maurice is my favorite drummer from that category. I'm not sure I totally 100% know what "boom bap" means, (Boom! Bap! Batman!!!) but I've been using Maurice's beats a lot lately. You're super solid, Maurice.
#4: Maya (my Drummer crush)
When I was scrolling through the new drummers in that update, one of the first to catch my eye was Maya. It was the "flashback to the '80s" that really made me stop, and her beats definitely live up to that description. It's a nostalgic thing for me. Maybe Maya and I have that in common. Mabye I've created a whole personality for Maya in my head. Maybe I have a little crush on Maya and her reverb-soaked beats. Maybe I'm taking this a little too far. Maybe.
#3: Nikki and her On the Floor beats
There's a term in pop music, made popular (I believe) in the disco era called "Four on the floor". This just means the kick drum plays every quarter-note beat of a measure. Think of any disco beat and you'll hear it: "Boom boom boom boom". That's the kind of beat Nikki plays, and I like it.
#2: No-Nonsense Zak
Leave your nonsense at the door! No nonsense allowed! These adjectives, though? They make a TON of sense. Zak's beats? They're driving. His kit? It's raw. What about his style? It's EXPLOSIVE. I wouldn't necessarily think it, but put all those stuff together, and the scruffy kid in the baseball cap kicks out some really useful beats. Way to go Zak!
#1: Darcy the Best
The funny thing about this description of Darcy is that phrases like "tasteful" and "restrained" (two qualities that can be, ahem, kinda hard to find in a drummer) are the EXACT PHRASES I would use to describe my ideal drummer. True to her word, Darcy is the drummer I use the most. I can always count on you, Darcy!
Furthering the drumming revolution
Because Logic Pro X has become such a huge part of my daily music creation, I look forward to the announcement of updates with an excitement that previously was reserved for the newest version of the iPhone. And with that excitement comes hope that Apple will keep expanding their list of drummers. Both Reggae and country—two genres of music that have super specific drumming styles—are difficult to approximate with the current lineup of virtual virtuosos.
As far as drum kits go, I'd love to see a kit focused on "junk" (some of my favorite percussion sounds are from things that aren't "drums" at all, but bits like bottles and cans and hubcaps) and chiptunes. There is a kit in Logic called "8-bit," but it's just a processed version of non-8-bit samples. It'd be cool if they made one with real 8-bit sounds.
I'd also love the ability to bring two AI drummers into the same session, if nothing else than to imagine the virtual disappointment on any of my top five's faces when I make them play with Kyle.