Because drum machines are so small, they are extremely convenient and portable which makes them a popular choice for many musicians. For some bands, if they have to hire a drummer for live shows, it can simply be much more cost effective to use a drum machine in place of a live drummer.
In fact, in some cases when a drummer has quit the band, the band will simply use a drum machine in place of the person. This strategy is more cost effective, and often easier than dealing with different personalities.
Drum machines can be programmed for almost any sound imaginable, and with a little practice, they are easily programmable. Today’s drum machines can store a wide variety of beats, songs and programs. Therefore, an entire set can be programmed into these machines.
While electronic machines are not perfect for every type of music, they are often thought of as more effective than acoustic drums for dance music. The beats that are required for dance music are very fast and often a live drummer cannot keep up with them. In these situations, electronic machines are perfect.
Electronic Drum Sets
An electronic drum kit is another very popular form of technology that is used in drumming. These kits consist of one or more electric pads that are grouped together and create sounds when they are struck. Most of the time, traditional drumsticks are used for these kits.
Electronic drum sets can be programmed with a wide variety of sounds and can be made to sound very similar to an acoustic drum set. Often, one or two electronic drums are used alongside acoustic drums to simulate the sound of a missing drum. For example, if you do not want to lug around a large bass drum, an electric drum can be used in its place.
Controlling the volume on these sets is as easy as turning a knob to turn down the volume, which makes them the perfect drum set for apartment dwellers, or those musicians with roommates or cranky parents. Quiet practice is a big benefit of the electric drum.
Many argue that electric drum sets are tacky. Because they were first introduced in the 1980’s, electric drums quickly got a reputation of being cheesy. In addition, many believe that the only thing that electronic drums are good for is for play, but not for real musicians.
The Argument Against Electric Drums
The biggest argument against electronic drum sets or drum machines is that they lack feeling. For many musicians, playing music is all about the feeling and emotion that they can project through their sounds. They argue that when you take a live drummer and replace them with a machine, you lack the feeling and the quality of emotion.
For some types of music such as jazz and soul, machines are not appropriate at all because these are genres that exude feeling and emotional meaning in the sounds created. Therefore, many musicians feel that it is extremely tacky to use a machine in these genres.
Although a drum machine is small and portable, you cannot improvise with a machine. It is programmed to play a loop and that is it. There is not room for any impromptu changes and the rest of the musicians must be on beat, or it will be very noticeable. A machine cannot accompany a soloist either. Moreover, one of the biggest arguments with a machine is that it is not very nice to look at!
Can authentic sounds truly be replicated by a machine? That question is the basis for another argument against electronic drums. Many believe that as good as they are, computers cannot recreate an authentic acoustic drum set. Critics claim that machines sound hollow and tinny and not at all like drums should sound.
What Is The Solution?
As with any argument, there will not be a one size fits all solution. The best solution for each individual and each band is to do what they like best, and what suits their sound. Many bands and musicians have created a compromise by using acoustic drums with a mixture of electronic drum pads and drum machines. By intermingling the two types of drums, you have the technology to create some new and interesting beats, as well as the authentic sound and emotional feel of acoustics. Perhaps a compromise is the best solution to this debate.