Electro-Acoustic Drumming: 5 Hybrid Setups We Love
The term "hybrid drum kit" can refer to a variety of different combinations of drums, percussion, and electronics. As far as Sensory Percussion goes, we consider any setup in which you're blending the triggered sounds from our software with the natural acoustic sounds of a traditional drumset to be a hybrid setup. To learn more about what makes Sensory Percussion the perfect hybrid drumming tool, check out our previous blog post exploring this topic. In this post, rather than just talking about why it's cool, we wanted to showcase some examples of users combining Sensory Percussion with acoustic drums to create something greater than the sum of these two parts. There are thousands of examples to choose from, so it was difficult to narrow it down, but here are 5 examples we love:
Greg Fox is a longtime Sunhouse artist whose music is equal parts doom metal and spiritual jazz. We caught up with Greg in 2020 to talk about how he used Sensory Percussion on his album Contact.
Greg has been a Sunhouse artist since the beginning, and he uses Sensory Percussion almost exclusively with a hybrid setup. In this live clip, the intro is completely acoustic without any triggered sounds. This makes for an even bigger impact when he turns on Sensory Percussion and all of the sudden the drums turn into synth controllers! (Greg reaches over and unmutes Sensory Percussion by clicking inside the software, but you could also map the mute button to a drum zone, such as the kick rim, and achieve this effect without touching your computer). For this piece, Greg is sending MIDI from Sensory Percussion into Ableton, which is triggering nested drum racks full of sequenced synth sounds. So while he might not know exactly which note will be played each time he hits a given drum, it's choosing from a pre-determined set of notes that all sound good over the saxophone loop that he triggers by hitting the floor tom.
In this clip, Arthur's hybrid setup includes a mix of acoustic and mesh drum heads as well as cymbals. On the mesh head, he's triggering chords from our newest soundpack Pareidolia. Since this is a mesh head, you can see there is no microphone capturing the acoustic sound, only a sensor triggering the chords. On his snare, though, he has both a mic and a sensor. The mic is recording the acoustic snare sound and the sensor is triggering a percussive sound when he hits the rim, and they both have a delay effect applied to them. Like many of Arthur's videos, the acoustic and electronic elements are mixed so seamlessly that it's difficult to tell which is which!
Here, Wiktoria is using chords from the kit "Orchard" from our soundpack Black Cat, which are assigned to the kick drum head and rim. This is a good example of how with a hybrid kit, you can get a lot of musical mileage out of just one sensor. The dark chords also work well with the variety of dry fx cymbals she's using on top of her drums. (Sidenote: you can still use Sunhouse sensors on drums that have things like fx cymbals, muffling, and tape on them; just be sure to train the drum with these objects on the head).
Using a combination of Sensory Percussion, a Roland SPD-SX, and various other MIDI devices, Chiminyo creates fully-fleshed out tracks that are 100% live, i.e. no backing tracks. In this clip, each hit of the kick drum plays the next sample on a chain, progressing the melody and harmony simultaneously. Often, Chiminyo uses Sensory Percussion to cycle through a given chord progression, and then uses the SPD-SX to switch to a new group of chords for the next section of the song. In this way, the structure is pre-determined and repeatable, but what he plays on the acoustic drums/cymbals could vary from one performance to the next.
Kendrick is known for his masterful touch and emotionally evocative playing, and this track "EVOLve" is no exception. The performance begins with him triggering a recording of the words of poet angel Kyodo williams using the kick rim. As he improvises a quiet, simmering groove, he slowly begins to trigger drone sounds using the tom rims and stickshots, and his playing builds in intensity. While there is a lot going on sonically, all of the sounds are open and sustained, allowing Kendrick to stay in the zone without worrying about backing tracks or metronomes.