Whitten adds depth and colour

Thursday, 28 May 2020 11:32 am

Former Paul McCartney and Dire Straits touring drummer Chris Whitten has released a pack of 30 all-new, original kits for Roland’s TM-6 Pro trigger module.

Whitten was one of the original contributors to the stock sounds. Along with Michael Schack and Kaz Rodriguez, Whitten recorded a number of one-shot samples which are preloaded in the TM-6 sound bank.

However, Whitten and producer Peter Henderson realised that there was much more they could add, given the ease with which samples can be imported in the brain.

Whitten tells digitalDrummer he has been recording drum samples since the mid-1980s. “I started collecting them while recording albums in top studios in the UK, and with some of the best, most well-known record producers of that time,” he recalls, noting that at the time, sampling consisted of one hit per drum – at most, there would be three velocities: soft, medium and loud.

While those recordings were virtually useless in the e-drum world of multi-layer, multi-sample VSTs and drum modules, the TM-6 Pro platform has opened the door.

The TM-6 is part of Roland’s growing arsenal of hybrid drumming tools combining electronics with acoustic drums.

Typically, the electronic sounds are mixed with acoustics to add nuances, or used to provide additional sounds not achievable with any single acoustic kit. Because they are blended with acoustic sounds, the electronic samples do not need to have the complexity of regular e-drum samples. A drummer can get the dynamics and expressiveness from the acoustic kit and then simply add the effects on top.

Realising the opportunity, Whitten has gone back over his collection and added some more recent custom and vintage drum sounds to create the 30 new kits, comprising 177 new samples.

The kits are available as a download only and are very easily installed on the TM-6 Pro. The import is done via an SD card and the module’s Kit Load function.

And since most owners don’t like to delete stock sounds, all the CW kits can be loaded without removing or overwriting any of the existing samples on the module.

Sounds like

The first thing to remember when listening to the CW kits is that they are not designed as stand-alone sounds. If you try using the TM-6 as a substitute module without any acoustic base, you’ll  end up with less-than-realistic performances, with limited dynamics. You’ll hear the same sample – either louder or softer, depending on how hard you hit. But it will mostly sound jarring and unnatural.

However, when you mix the samples with an acoustic kit, you get something unique and creative.

There are some superb samples in the collection, ranging from Whitten’s own 1960s Oaklawn Camco kit to various incarnations of his Noble & Cooley kit, recorded in different studios.

On the electronic side, all the samples were created specifically for this pack, using Whitten’s extensive modular synthesiser collection, including a very rare 1970 Buchla Modular System and his Dave Smith (Sequential) DSM03 Feedback module.

The kits are versatile and add colour; but, of course, sound selection is a matter of personal taste – and not all the samples will appeal to every drummer for any particular song.

Where Whitten has been very smart is in the selection of material to augment the kits and samples already available on the module. So, you end up with a more rounded, ready and varied accessory that combines in more ways to deliver a unique sound to every user.

The Chris Whitten Drums for Roland TM-6 Pro pack sells online for £39.99. And, unlike the add-on packs for most Roland modules, which are mainly tweaks of the onboard sounds, the Whitten pack adds all-new content that you just can’t create yourself, no matter how skilled you are at audio engineering.

  • Stay tuned because digitalDrummer will be featuring a range of module samples packs and tweaks in the August edition.