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Author: Chris Vrenna
Instrument: Drummer/Producer/Remixer
Bands Worked With: Tweaker, Nine Inch Nails, too many others to list

Syncing Live Drums to Sequenced Electronics and Electronic Drum Loops

It's Chris Vrenna here. So you want some tips on your drummer playing live along with sequenced loops and beats for a tour, huh?

Well, the only real way to make it work is to have him play to a click. In NIN our backing stuff was all on a DA-88, and one of the tape tracks was the click that ran to my headphone amp to my headphones. There was always a 2 bar countoff for me to count the band in, and this way even if I wasn't playing at the begining of the song, I had the tempo so when I did come in I was in time.

I don't know what gear you are using live, but if there is any way to send the drummer a click on it's own output, so that he can have it in headphones, and no one else will hear it (esp. the fans!) that would be the best. If you are driving sequences live, make a track, and set one output off your sampler or drum machine to be the click just for him. Or for instance if you're backing everything up on DAT or Mini Disc, you can simply set the click to one channel such as the left and set the track to the other such as the right. That way you can run the right track through the PA in mono and the audience won't be able to hear the click (also most club's PAs run in mono anyway). Headphone amps are really cheap too.

If you can't do it that way, then the only other thng i can say is that depending on your music, you start each and every song with some sort of loop, and the drummer can just put this loop in his monitors loud enough to always hear it then he can groove over the loop. The problem becomes thus......what if there is a part of a song that has no loops or drums at all..then the drummer needs to come back in with the loop together in time?? That could be a disaster, and again more reason to generate a click track somehow, and have the drummer have that click in headphones for every song.

Hope that helps you out and good luck!

-Chris Vrenna

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