How I use e-drums

Friday, 22 November 2019 8:59 am

Australian percussionist Maarten Stenakur relies on electronics for variety and sound control.

I am a drummer and music producer from Victoria, Australia. My interest in drumming started back in 1986 when I heard the Genesis track Domino. It features Phil Collins blazing around a Simmons drum kit. From then on, I studied drums and tuned percussion with Sydney-based teachers Brian Nixon, Iain Scotland, Michael Hall and Milan Troha.

Since the early ‘90s I have played many styles of music ranging from rock, metal, big band jazz, Brazilian styles, alternative country and electronic music. While I have done the corporate covers thing, I prefer to play original music in bands like The Pryor Theory, Slimey Things, the Drivers Eyes, Black Paul, Astro, etc. I have also played alongside Kate Ceberano, Richard Pleasance, Xani Kolac, Rod Bustos and others. These experiences have seen me play the Big Day Out, St Kilda Festival, One Movement for Music, Bacardi Latin Festival, Ritmo Brazilian Day, Manly World Music Concerts, Castlemaine Jazz Festival, etc.

While I still play with other artists and bands, my primary focus at the moment is building on my solo music catalogue, also adding drumming and music videos to my YouTube channel. My music style and sound is traditional world music combined with a cinematic film score type of vibe.

For live performance, I use a basic acoustic set-up of kick, snare, hi-hat, floor tom and crash ride. To this, I add a Yamaha DTX-Multi 12 to trigger off loops and sounds. I use a DT50S snare trigger to ensure the back beat cuts through the mix. Sometimes, I will use a HH65 hi-hat pedal connected to the DTXM12. For some gigs, I will replace the snare drum between my legs with the DTXM12 which I can play with my hands. For venues that do not allow a drum kit, I use the same set-up but replace the acoustic kick drum with a KP65 kick pad. These set-ups give me more hands-on control over the type of sound that I want coming from my drum kit. It helps me to create the right sound for the mood of each song, just like keyboardists and guitarists have been able to do for many years.

For the recording, I program guide drum and percussion parts into Ableton Live using a Push controller. Then, in my studio, I perform and record those actual instrument parts playing an Alternate Mode trapKAT XL and a Yamaha DTX920K drum kit using MIDI straight into a drum rack in Ableton. I add samples to the drum rack from my sound library, and often use presets from libraries such as Cinematic Percussion by ProjectSAM, Soundiron Apocalypse Percussion Elements, Uppercussion Vocalisms and Soniccouture Balinese Gamelan. I really like that a lot of those drum racks provide me with a responsive touch through the multiple velocity layers and how those presets allow me to design my sound using effects like attack, release, pitch and pan.

With this technology, I can easily access the sounds I want without having to own lots of space-crowding acoustic drums and percussion. I also don’t have to own expensive microphones, and it is a quick and easy way to make recordings.

The drumming videos on my YouTube channel showcase the Yamaha EAD10 system on my hybrid drum kit. I am looking forward to continuing my e-drum explorations well into the future. It’s an exciting time to be an e-drummer.