YOU CAN'T BEAT IT!
What's got long greasy hair, makes nasty smells in the corner and creates one hell of a din laying into his kit? A drummer, that's what! Now Rachael Smith reckons she's found a more refined alternative - Cheetah's SpecDrum.
Drummers are a real pain for a new band. When you're starting out you can never find one - and if you make it big they're always the ones who drive the sports cars into the swimming pool! Well, SpecDrum may prove the answer. For thirty quid you get a complete drum kit in the shape of a small box to clip to your Speccy's behind, plus a tape.
The hardware contains the electronic wizardry that gives you three channels of percussion. And as nobody in his right mind would want all that mayhem beeping through the inbuilt speaker, you'll just have to connect it to a hi-fi or other amp via the attached phone, possibly using an adaptor.
Mind you, the really clever stuff is on the tape. Here you'll find your kit of eight digitally sampled sounds. You can use any three of them simultaneously - within certain limitations. SpecDrum comes with a standard rock kit, plus high tom or rim substitutes. The versatility doesn't stop at that - there's even the promise of further kits to come, such as a latin one.
But back to the present. Once you've listened to the eleven examples you'll be dying to create your own tracks, building with rhythmic blocks, creating your patterns then linking an looping them into completed songs. And as the instructions are probably the worst part of the package you can take a look at how this process works here.
There's a lot of memory for storing your tracks. You'll soon find that using the system becomes second nature to you. But the impressive feature is that quality of the sound - it'd easily do for demo tapes. That's why there's a synchro facility - I reckon a full MIDI interface would've proved far too costly. As it is, SpcDrum is unbelievably cheap and great fun to use. A definite hit.
Rat Scabies of The Damned once said that he took up drumming 'cos he liked hitting things. For all of you who've never thrashed a kit here's a quick run down of what you get.Bass The one you paint the band's name on. It hits you in the pit of the stomach so use it to accentuate the beat.Snare 'Toppy' sounding, it can be used for sizzling rolls. Found in most sorts of music, an optional voice allows for striking the 'Rim'.Toms Mid and Low are standard with an optional High. Over-use these tuned drums and you'll sound like a bad disco mix but moving between pitches can work well.Hi-Hat Your cymbal can be in two states, Closed, or for a real crash, Open. Use sparingly unless you're into HMO (Heavy Metal overkill).Cowbell Goes great with yodelling. Not one for the rockers but it can be nicely funky if it alternates with your cymbal.Claps Another disco one in the cymbal section. Use it for steady, repetitive rhythms.
Rat Scabies of The Damned once said that he took up drumming 'cos he liked hitting things. For all of you who've never thrashed a kit here's a quick run down of what you get. Bass The one you paint the band's name on. It hits you in the pit of the stomach so use it to accentuate the beat. Snare 'Toppy' sounding, it can be used for sizzling rolls. Found in most sorts of music, an optional voice allows for striking the 'Rim'. Toms Mid and Low are standard with an optional High. Over-use these tuned drums and you'll sound like a bad disco mix but moving between pitches can work well. Hi-Hat Your cymbal can be in two states, Closed, or for a real crash, Open. Use sparingly unless you're into HMO (Heavy Metal overkill). Cowbell Goes great with yodelling. Not one for the rockers but it can be nicely funky if it alternates with your cymbal. Claps Another disco one in the cymbal section. Use it for steady, repetitive rhythms.
BEATING THE DRUM
As soon as the program's loaded you're presented with the following series of menus - provided SpecDrum's connected, of course!Main MenuFrom the main menu you can access further facilities as well as all the other menusHere's the list of songs you're working on. The Load/Save menu has options for individual titles or dumps for up to 16 tracks.You get the chance to hear your track as it stands at any stage of the proceedings. Set around 125 the tempo is a rockin' beat, but boot it up to 999 and our snare will sound like a pneumatic drill!To start you'll need to know how to divide each beat. Though 32 parts are available, you're unlikely to need more than 12 unless you're getting into very complex rhythms.Clever this. If you have multi-track recording facilities you can use SpecDrum to sync to itself via a pulse track output from the mic socket.Pattern MenuPressing 'P' takes you to the first stage of creation - the pattern menu.Here's your drum kit. Note that it's divided into three group, so you can't play the Mid and Low Toms simultaneously, for example.And this is where the drums are played and displayed, by number. The three channels are clearly illustrated, and you can easily make alterations under the black cursor. Above and below are the bars you're not currently working on.Of course you may prefer tapping out the track to typing it in. This calls a sub menu which allows you to specify the sound. Then beat out that rhythm on a (Spec)Drum.Tempo/Format chooses the time signature and this blue line shows where the beats and bar lines come. Closed Hi Hat and/or bass can be automatically added to help you keep time. A nice touch.Edit Menu.You've got your bars of beats so it's time to put them together with the edit menu.There are the individual patterns. To hear them again just insert them in the black window blow and press D for Drum - you can hear them in context and take them out if you don't like the effect.This is the number of the pattern you've chosen, increased or decreased by pressing 1 and 2 respectively.......And this is the number of times it plays, from 1 to 255, which could be rather repetitive! 3 and 4 control this, and once you're satisfied you just scroll it to the left with Enter.Use Shift 9 to insert, Shift 0 to delete, and eventually you'll get it right. Then it's back to the main menu for one last time where F tidies the data and stores it as economically as possible. Simple, eh?