Randomization Techniques In DrumSpillage

There are 1,752 parameters in a DrumSpillage kit which means a little helping hand when designing your own sounds can be invaluable. The parameter randomizer introduced in version 1.2 can be a huge help here. Randomization can be used to add subtle variation to a rhythm or used creatively to ‘discover’ new drum sounds and provide fresh inspiration.

Setting Up The Randomizer

The randomizer is located in the model editor and works on a per pad basis. The two controls used to set up the randomizer are the depth control and the configuration menu:

Randomizer Controls

The depth control sets the amount of randomization that will be applied. The configuration menu is used to determine which parameters will be randomized by checking and un-checking the following items in the drop down menu:

  • Model: Randomizes the parameters exclusive to the current model (e.g. BassDrum, Membrane, FMPercussion etc)
  • Accent: Randomize the Accent parameters
  • Envelope 1: Randomize the parameters that define Envelope 1
  • Envelope 2: Randomize the parameters that define Envelope 2
  • Pitch Envelope: Randomize the parameters that define the pitch envelope
  • LFO 1: Randomize the parameters that define LFO 1
  • LFO 2: Randomize the parameters that define LFO 2
  • Pitch Sources: Randomize parameters that directly control a drum’s pitch
  • Envelope Attacks: Randomize envelope attack times. When unchecked envelope attack times will be fixed.
  • Modulations Sources: Randomize parameter modulation sources (e.g. LFO1, LFO2 etc)
  • Modulations Depths: Randomize the depth of parameter modulations

By default only the Model and Pitch Sources items are checked which is useful for rapid experimentation with the currently selected model.

Manual Operation

Instant one-shot randomization effects can be achieved by simply hitting the ‘Randomize’ button.

Manual Randomization

Manual operation randomizes the parameters checked in the Config menu instantly. It is important to know that this type of randomization is destructive as there is no undo facility. When a pad is randomized in this way the old parameters are overwritten. You may want to save a pad or copy it to another slot first.

To cycle through a range of randomized sounds simply continue pressing the Randomize button until you find a sound you like. In the clip below the kick drum’s parameters are manually randomized every few beats.

[audio:http://www.audiospillage.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/audio/rand/ManualKicks.mp3|titles=Manual kick drum randomization|animation=no|loop=no|initialvolume=85]

Interactive Techniques

A more interactive approach can be taken using tape style transport controls to operate the randomizer.

Interactive Transport Controls

  • Play: Starts the randomizer
  • Pause: Pauses the randomizer
  • Stop: Stops the randomizer and returns the pad to its original settings
  • Store: Stores the current randomized sound and turns the randomizer off

Once started the randomizer will randomize the pad’s parameters for each pad trigger that. For example, in the clip below the kick drum’s parameters are randomized each time the kick is triggered.

[audio:http://www.audiospillage.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/audio/rand/InteractiveKicks.mp3|titles=Kick drums randomized on each trigger|animation=no|loop=no|initialvolume=85]

The randomizer can be placed ‘on hold’ using the pause button. This is has the effect of ‘freezing’ the current randomized sound.

A randomized sound can be stored at any time. Using the pause button in combination with the store button can be a winning combination.

Interactive randomization is non-destructive. Stopping the randomizer returns you to the sound you started with originally.

Automation Concerns

The randomizer transport itself cannot be automated (this may be addressed in a later update). Furthermore, when using the transport style controls the randomization process works ‘behind the scenes’ which means the parameters themselves are not altered in any way (or recorded by the host automation system). This allows the randomizer to return to the original sound at any time. Only the act of storing the current randomized sound will overwrite the pad’s current parameter settings.

In contrast, when using manual randomization techniques parameters are stored/overwritten instantly and may be recorded by the host automation system depending on the host’s method of capturing automation gestures/events.

More Examples

The following examples illustrate the use of randomization on multiple drum sounds within a kit in a more realistic real world mix setting.

Example 1: In this clip the open hi-hat, closed hi-hat and clap sounds are randomized to add variation to the rhythm.

[audio:http://www.audiospillage.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/audio/rand/Example1.mp3|titles=Example 1|animation=no|loop=no|initialvolume=100]

Example 2: In this clip the kick drum, clap, hi-hats, clave and tom sounds are randomized throughout the clip.

[audio:http://www.audiospillage.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/audio/rand/Example2.mp3|titles=Example 2|animation=no|loop=no|initialvolume=100]