Debuts down under

Friday, 9 June 2017 10:10 am

The debut Sydney Drum and Percussion Show, supported by digitalDrummer, was well-timed for product debuts, offering Roland its first opportunity to show off its four new e-drum products launched the day before.

Vdrums general manager of product design Hiroyuki Nishi and product designer Ryo Takasaki were on hand to see the launch of the new SPD::ONE line.

Roland also used the event to showcase the capability of its flagship TD-50 kit with performances by global artist Michael Schack, who was touring Australia.

Schack was also a key participant in a dedicated panel discussion on the role of electronic percussion, facilitated by digitalDrummer editor Allan Leibowitz.

Drummer and producer Tim Powles, best known for his role in The Church, recalled his introduction to e-drumming in the '80s when "I wanted to take the sounds I'd created in the studio onto the live stage".

Illy drummer Ben Ellingworth got into electronic drum products through a fascination with industrial sounds.

Schack recalled his long association with Roland, dating back to 1992 when he started testing the TD-7 kit.

All the panellists agreed that electronic percussion is now mainstream, with Ellingworth noting that every audition he has done in the last 10 years has involved being grilled on his knowledge of pads and "being up to scratch with Ableton. It's become such a standard thing," he said.

Powles pointed out that "most of the music we hear now is recorded, and the sound sources are more technical, with a lot of sampling". He also spoke about sound replacement and the growing use of sampling and drum replacement in recordings. This, in turn, means drummers need to replicate those sounds live.

Schack explained how despite the fears about drum machines replacing drummers, there have never been more people playing drums. "And the nice thing is that we're still doing it with wooden drumsticks," he quipped.

There was some discussion about sampling and programming. Powles said audiences aren't being cheated when drummers trigger loops on stage: "Music is changing. There are no rules and all we have is the most incredible set of tools. The challenge is what new ways can we find to use these tools."

Schack has built his stage act on loops and does not shy away from sampling. "The richness of the drumming world has evolved thanks to electronics," he said.

The two-day event also gave retailers and drummers the first chance to see the new Alesis Strike Pro kit. Importer Electric Factory had very strong interest in the only kit in the country, with show visitors - and rival e-drum brands - queuing up to play it. According to brand manager Mark Spies, deliveries should begin later this month, but not enough even to meet back orders.

Yamaha also had lots of action around its array of electronic drum products.

Besides gear displays, visitors to the show were treated to some entertaining and inspiring performances from local drummers Stan Bicknell, Lucius Borich and Lozz Benson, while Thomas Lang and Virgil Donati kicked off their DWTV tour with a performance at the event. 

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