The chief use of drums and percussion keeps a song’s rhythm intact. Under a layering series of melodies and additional harmonies, the direction in varying yet calculated overall tempo of a song is maneuvered through as the percussionist’s prerogative changes. The natural pulse of the song is kept by the musical intelligence quotient through the musician’s ear. But with the ever-enduring evolution of technology in music and vice-versa, electronic percussion equipment and devices have boomed through different artists’ musical expression and have impacted diverse evolution among genres, especially and significantly on live performances.
It seems like the powerful beats and thumps of a traditionally played drum kit have indeed found a rival in loops and grooves of electronic percussion. It can be argued that, with the introduction of this, specifically with drum pads, machines, and software, it has an effect on live music which somewhat eliminates a key human contributory component integral in percussions to song and performance. Effects of Drum Pad Machines on Today’s Musicians and their performances
In every live musical performance, the percussion element of the music being delivered by a musician or group of musicians fundamentally serves as the pulse and momentum for a song, and the song changes as the performance develops. Moreover, it considerably serves as the main musical queue as the pace of the song slowly builds up for an array of artistically audible outbursts or surprisingly dies down for a more instant tone-tempo change effect as required in a performance—adding sense of presentation and colorful musical tones within.
In this generation’s music scene, the rise of drum pad machines have ushered in electronic loops and grooves for musicians’ convenience in song composition, song rehearsals and more importantly, even upon live performances. Definition of a Drum, Drum Kit, and Drum Pad Machine The most common image of a drum or any form of drums of which many hold could be believed to be anything that is round, and as a series of striking motion hits are applied to, sound is produced. Though this is somewhat true from what truly a drum is, it is not completely accurate. As explained by Drumdojo.
com (2008): A drum is any cylindrical object (shell) or object with an open top that has a membrane normally called a head or skin stretched across it, this is known as a membranophone. The drum is struck on the membrane to produce a tone (n p. ). In a drum kit, which is traditionally and mainly used by drummer-musicians in live bands and performances as the main provider for a song’s percussion ingredients, it essentially consists of “percussion instruments generally including but not limited to bass drum, operated with a foot pedal, snare drum, cymbals, and toms” (Drumdojo.
com, 2008, n p. ). A drum machine is basically considered to be an electronic musical gadget, the main purpose of which is to mimic a traditional drums kit—from every single instrument belonging to a kit and with every single sound it is capable of producing. Effects of Using Drum Pad Machines Live Despite the certain differentiations between drum pad machines and traditional percussion instruments such as a drum set, the option of choosing to use a drum pad machine truly lies within the motive and intent of various artists and their expression amongst genres.
However, one must understand that with a drum pad machine, there are certain overlooked limitations it holds which in turn constrain the artists’ over-all performance. Since a drum pad machine is a developed piece of technology, a mechanical gadget and a traditional drum kits is crafted through key specifications of size, material, and everything else in between. There would always be a direct comparison, and it could be said that a drum pad machine creation is fuelled by convenience and technology in music, while the drum kits’ creation is duly developed for the art and science of music.
As the comparison builds, it would more often than not end only in how musically and significantly restrictive a drum pad machine is to a live performance. With a drum pad machine, the player is considered rather mechanical than artistic. Since the beats, grooves, and loop are pre-programmed and just available for drum pad machine player’s use on the machine, there is somewhat a reduction of the live aspect of a live performance. Buttons and pads available in the drum pad machine can be meddled and pressed by anyone.
Thus, there are fewer requirements of truly learning the electronic instrument which translates to even lesser basis of substantiating a drum pad machine player to be skillful in anyway. In terms of a musician’s confidence, since a drum machine could indeed be so compact, there would be much faith in its utilization, but there is a dismissed aspect of being confident in playing live which is the essence of any live performance. In addition, it is known that with the use of a manual and probably minimal practice, anyone could claim the throne being a skilled drum pad machine musician.
Being in this age of accessible information, all these carry on and are known by the fans and music enthusiasts who attend live musical performances. Using drum pad machines in a live performance could be translated to perfect pitches and tones since there are already pre-set programming which rather does the work for the artist as opposed to fatigue that could take place as a percussionist performs via hands or sticks. But with this, the use of such only removes the human aspect of artistic expression and justifies a live performance to be strictly a calculation.
Fatigue is part of any and every live performance because it only shows that the artists express themselves to be able to connect with their audience—it may be a factor, but is not a good enough reason to compromise an aspect for a live performance. Hence, using a drum pad machine instead of live percussion instrument defeats the purpose of a live performance, for it limits not only individual musical fills and additions a musician may place to highlight style, but it also reduces artistic improvisation that is usually found in a live performance.
There is also another important feature which drum pad machines falls short off in a live performance. In varying world cultures which entail diverse musical genres, a drum machine would hold to be off-putting in almost every sense. Musically, almost all cultures in the world holds a percussion instrument of their own which sets not only as a brand of the music they have, but more importantly is part of their cultural and nationalistic identity. For instance, Arabic music is known for the role of percussion instruments like the tabla (University of Florida. com, 2008, n. p. ).
Al-Hammar (1999) describes the tabla as an hour-glass shaped drum which is “traditionally made of clay, [but] more recently, it has been made of metal. The head is made of fish, goat or other animal skins, [and it] has also largely been replaced by a plastic substitute” (n. p. ). In a live performance, it is rather disloyal and to every extent be only a poor imitation and expression of Arabic music in performing such hymns from their culture through a drum machine—to purposely mechanize a culture’s music. It is rather a futile attempt to replace the original sound produced from a distinctive percussion instrument.
The main discrepancy lies not in perceived purpose but by intended function. In terms of serving their purpose, both can be of true service in providing the percussion for songs but vary in live performances. The major advantage which a traditional drum kit or a live percussion instrument may hold is of crucial disadvantage for the drum pad machine. Since different percussion instruments comprise a drum kit, particular specifications for each could be done, made, and assembled most fittingly for the musician’s unique and artistic style of playing—in terms of tuning, material used, alloy utilized, etc.
More importantly, with a drum kit and other live percussion instruments being played in a performance, a definitive and distinctive sound for the percussion line could be identified. Significantly, the genuine trademark of the artist is imbedded within a song which is indeed crucial in any musical form of expression. Nevertheless, it could be rebutted that aside from being handy and portable as compared to a drum set, the compact drum pad machine holds tone and tempo programming that a drum kit has, and more— all is just a click, touch, or button away.
However, its perceived purpose is also its key weakness because the various percussion tones found in the drum pad machine’s electronic memory chips is produced mainly not by the artist but essentially by the machine, as compared to the authentically noteworthy contribution by a musician in performance as the parts of a drum kit or a percussion instrument is played. The musician playing would pour on and express the themes and emotions of the song and connect with the audience with every commanding yet calculated strike, with every forceful and fierce kick, and every dominant splash.
This visual and musical performance experience is not as illuminating or animated as a drum machine player pressing buttons on a drum pad machine. Thus, drum pad machines constrict the overall aspect of a live musical performance and do hold back the artist’s live execution. References Al-Hammar, A. (1999). The Arabic Music. The Time Machine, College of Education, University of Florida. Retrieved November 25, 2008 from http://www. coe. ufl. edu/webtech/Timemachine/music/Arabic/answer. htm. Drumdojo. com. (2008). Equipment. Drumdojo. com. Retrieved November 24, 2008 from http://www. drumdojo. com/equipment. htm.