Looking for free percussion loops?

Via the good people at The Loop Loft:

We’re currently putting the finishing touches on our next major release at The Loop Loft, “World Percussion Loops”, and we wanted to give you a sneak peek (or listen) of what we think is one of our greatest packs to date.  Loaded full of a wide mix of ethnic percussion, including cajons, udu drums, frame drums and a variety of shakers, this loop pack is a must-have for anyone looking to round out their percussion library with authentic sounds and grooves.
To have a free demo pack sent directly to your inbox, just submit your email below and select your desired file format.  After working with some of the hand selected loops in the demo pack, we guarantee you’ll hear why The Loop Loft is the premier destination for high quality loops!

More info here.

For Good Reason

Nucleus SoundLab just released a cool new ReFill for Reason called Filter Research 2 and they’ve been demoing this rather slick effects bundle with a loop from Pop Drums Vol 1. Check it out:

Via nucleus-soundlab.com:

Nucleus SoundLab is proud to announce a new effects ReFill for Propellerhead Reason and Record. Filter Research 2 is a continuation of the concept of complex effect devices built in the Reason environment. The original Filter Research has yet to be matched in terms of quality effects devices for Reason. Filter Research 2 builds on this strong foundation, but exceeds its predecessor in every way.

Practicing with loops

When most people think of loops, they often think of them as something only used in the production of songs. However, loops can also be used as great practice tools. To me, there is nothing more uninspiring than practicing to the traditional “tick, tick, tick, tick” of a metronome or click track.

Whenever possible, I’ll practice various drum beats along with guitar or bass loops, or record drum tracks on top of percussion loops. One exercise that I’ve found is great for accurately internalizing my time is playing to a 16 measure loop that has the last 8 measures muted. When the “1” of the loop comes around each time, you can easily tell if you’ve pushed or pulled too much on the time. I’ve even rigged up Logic, an old car battery, and some rusty clamps to send strong, electric shocks to my body anytime my tempo strays.

In the video below, Bob Reynolds takes the concept of practicing with loops and puts a twist on it. No, he doesn’t increase the voltage on his nipple clamps. In this case, he practices improvising over the jazz standard, “Out of Nowhere”, (a song normally performed in 4/4) using a drum loop in 7/8. The live drums provide a much more natural foundation to improvise over, while still supplying the consistent tempo of a metronome.

My New Cajón aka “Ass Box”

Via Wikipedia: A cajón (Spanish pronunciation: [ka’xon], ‘crate’, ‘drawer’, or ‘ass box’) is a kind of box drum played by slapping the front face (generally thin plywood) with the hands.

This year for my birthday, my wife gave me a card with a picture of a cajón inside of it. This is a drum that I’ve talked about getting for years, but never got around to buying for myself. Knowing that I’m very particular about the sound of my instruments, she figured it would be best to let me be the one to pick out the actual drum. This picture entitled me to one trip to my favorite place in the world, Guitar Center, where I could select the cajón of my choice.

Yesterday I went to cash in on my gift, strolling passed the kids shredding on 7 string Ibanez guitars and into the drum department, where there were three different cajóns waiting for me to sit on. Two of them were made by Meinl and the other was manufactured by the maker of my first “real” drumset, Pearl.

Pearl Jingle Cajón

I first tried out the least expensive of the bunch, the oak Meinl.. From the first slap, I could tell it wouldn’t make the cut. There was hardly any bass, let alone high end. It sounded just as the price tag suggested: cheap. It was then on to the priciest of the three, the bubinga Meinl. While this one had great low end and a cool pedal to control the wires inside of the box, it was still missing that “snap” I was looking for when playing the outer edges of the drum.

Finally, it was on to the Pearl Jingle cajón. After playing this box for ten seconds, I knew it was the clear winner. With deep, full bass frequencies and a crisp, high end “crack”, this drum possessed the full range of tone I was looking for. After a swift swipe of my wife’s credit card, I got the hell out of that godforsaken store and headed straight for my studio.

Loop #133

I must have skipped the Cajón 101 class at Berklee because honestly, I had no idea how you’re actually supposed to play one. I mean, it’s just a box that you sit on and slap with your hands… how hard can it be? After watching a few YouTube videos featuring cajón solos by Alex Acuña and Efrain Toro, I soon had enough technique to accurately translate the rhythms I heard in my head and perform them on the instrument (complete with the foot-on-the drum pitch bending). Today’s loop is just a two measure snippet from an entire session of Ass Box grooves, soon to be released by The Loop Loft.

[audio:102_NiceCajon.mp3]

Get the .wav file here.

Get the .rx2 file here.

Get the .aiff file here.

102 BPM

The best early birthday present… ever.

This past weekend, I received a rather unexpected, yet awesome early birthday present. One of my best friends (a fellow drummer & Berklee grad) is preparing to move from Boston to Seattle in a few weeks, and while packing up his house and getting ready for the big transition, he uncovered an ultra-amazing relic from the late 80’s: an autographed headshot of Pat Torpey, drummer for “supergroup”/one-hit wonder, Mr. Big. In one of the most unselfish acts in the history of mankind, he decided to bestow this lost gem upon me.

While I’m pretty bummed that one of my good friends is moving 3,000 miles away, I know that I’ll be reminded of him every time I look at this photo (which is now hanging in my studio). I will also be inspired to start wearing more leather jackets and nonchalantly sit with my drums, which will randomly be strewn outside of a warehouse.

Rockin' the Tamas & the skinny jeans

Why is this photo so awesome? I’ll just let the video below do the explaining (the awesomeness kicks in at 3:52).