Yes, don’t worry, there will be an audio clip of the “sick beat” I made in my lecture. Before that, this post will touch on 2 online step sequencers called Drumbit and O-Generator. I also got to play with a Roland TR-8, although, I admit to lame beat creation with that.
Drumbit is a free online drum sequencer that works very well, containing a few drum kits and effects to tickle your fancy. See below for an absolutely lovely GIF of me laying down a Reggaeton beat.
Excitement aside, this links well with music education (still exciting) as students can compose, listen, and perform all at the same time. The beauty with step sequencing is that you can change it live and it is a completely legitimate form of music performance. DJs do it, so why can’t students?
What can Drumbit do?
- Up to 16 bars of 4/4 metre
- Audio record and export
- Changeable drum kits
- Effects such as reverb, filters, and a compressor
- Cool frequency spectrum visualiser in red
- Swing slider
Oh, as for my “sick beat,” here it is!
O-Generator is a paid online sequencer which is also available through a MusicFirst account. Moving away from the left to right step sequencers, O-Generator sports a cyclical design, working with the metaphor of a loop. See below for you YouTube video posted on the official website.
When I started playing with O-Generator, I was initially thrown by the circle design. After looking at it for a few seconds and clicking a few circles I realised how it worked. I quickly tried to make a beat although I was limited to only 2 drum sounds simultaneously. This limited my rhythm to just bass and snare for ease of use, and then I focused on a syncopated bassline. Within a minute I had 4 bars and the sounds were high-quality samples so they sounded great.
While I only made 4 bars, you are able to make hundreds, allowing it to be a great composition tool in education. This is great because students don’t need much music knowledge to make something that sounds awesome. My lecturer, James Humberstone, said that if he was going to give a lesson to a year 7/8 class knowing it would be the only music class they’d ever have, that he’d do the lesson on step sequencing. It links with all learning experiences and it translates well into the real world of music that the students listen to, as they can apply the skills to the music they listen to, be it Rock, Trap, or Raggaeton. See what I made in the lecture below.
The Roland TR-8
It took me a while to figure out how to sequence beats, although, I became more interested in the performance aspect. It has a mode where you can play it like drum pad and play the beats in real time. I love doing this on my launchpad and I have acquired some muscle memory for laying down some solid beats.
Moving away from me, the Roland TR-8 is modelled off the original Roland TR-808 and TR-909. It isn’t analogue but it replicates the sound using analogue circuit analysis and Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology. The earphones I was using in the lecture wouldn’t have given the sounds any justice, although, they did not sound 100% digital like some of the drum plugins I use in my DAW.