More than 700 fills, tailored for fusion.
Fusion. “The process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity”. The general dictionary definition of the word applies perfectly to the music genre as well – it’s a mix of disparate elements from several genres that, put together, make perfect sense. In a seamless merge, it combines the complexity of jazz, the groove of funk and the raw power of rock, particularly when it comes to the drums.
In the Fusion Fills MIDI pack, drummer Luke Oswald builds on his earlier release, Fusion Grooves MIDI, and delivers in excess of 700 individually performed fills. This is the ultimate collection of fills for all owners of the Fusion Grooves MIDI pack as well as any writer in need of solid fills for any backbeat-driven fusion or busy, jazz-inspired rock. Expect a collection of fills, oozing of that genre-typical technicality and subtlety. All the traits you’d expect are there; the intricate ghost notes, the busy leading-hand work and all that sophisticated “session drummer” finesse that only a great performer can muster.
If legends like Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, Will Kennedy and Steve Gadd or contemporary players like Lil’ John Roberts and Mark Guiliana get your creative nerve going, this one’s for you. Start writing!
Our very own Rikk Currence gives you three reasons why your songs will thank you for using Toontrack drum MIDI.
Tell us a bit about your musical background and how you ended up behind the drums!
I started playing piano and trumpet at a young age but was always interested in the drums. I officially started playing drums at the age of 12. I played in church immediately and made drums my main instrument in the 9th grade and never looked back.
You’re an avid user of e-drums. Tell us how you got introduced to e-drums and what got you hooked to carry on down this path!
I remember always being intrigued by electronics in general as a kid, including keyboards, synthesizers and electronic drums. However I never got an e-kit until late college and even then it was for practicing quietly and for band rehearsals. I never really liked any of the module sounds. Then In late 2008 I was doing some studio work where I wanted to use drum samples and a producer buddy of mine introduced me to EZdrummer. That led me to discovering Toontrack and Superior Drummer 2 which was just released a few months before. I was blown away, especially after watching the Pat Thrall and Nir Z NAMM demonstration. After that I was hooked. That made me want to get back into drum production and purchase a high quality e-kit to use with these top notch samples I now had access to with Superior Drummer 2. And that was it, I became an avid Superior Drummer 2 and Toontrack user and haven’t looked back since.
You were an instant adaptor of Superior Drummer 3, which of course includes loads of new and improved features for e-drums. Tell us some of your favorite ones.
So many great features! But if I have to pick some of my favorites related specifically to e-drums:
• Positional Sensing Zone Control: This is fantastic! I can adjust the transition point for where the center and edge articulations happen (or center, mid-center, edge for libraries that support it like the core Superior Drummer 3 library). This has always been an issue for me when using positional sensing pads that the edge articulation would always happen too close to the edge of the drum for my taste, which is a direct correlation to the module settings for that pad. But in Superior Drummer 3 you can manipulate this transition and make the edge articulation happen closer to the center of the drum, like it would on a real snare. Couple this with the ability to create custom positional sensing threshold configurations and edit the specific articulation volume along with Smoothing FX and you have some powerful options for creating very realistic drum performances with your e-kit.
• Hi-hat CC Zone Control: Just like with the snare CC zone control, I love the ability to set specific articulation zone points for the transition between different open and closed articulations. This kind of control really allows you to customize the response of your hi-hat exactly as you want and expect it to respond. The Hi-Hat calibration configuration is great as well and very user friendly and intuitive. It offers a useful and fun way to make sure the CC settings are correctly configured for your hi-hat controller to ensure that you get the proper transmutation response between open and closed articulations.
• MIDI Recording and Editing: As an e-drummer, the ability to record directly into Superior Drummer 3 is fantastic. I use this feature all the time, whether I’m recording drum tracks for clients, recording drums for my own bands or drum videos, or simply recording new ideas. I’ve also come to really appreciate the Grid Editor. It’s so quick to edit and manipulate the MIDI in a variety of ways for each instrument and even specific articulations.
• Macro Controls: This is more of a performance and production feature, but it relates to e-drumming in that it’s a great live and practice feature. I use these all the time and they are incredibly versatile. I love the ability to combine any function or parameter to come up with quick ways to alter the sound with one knob and to come up with creative new production possibilities.
• Tuning Algorithms: This is another feature that’s great for live performance and practice. The tuning parameter gives you so much more leverage when tuning drums to taste. I like to go extreme and see how far I can push the drum head tuning parameter and then see how it compares to the non-processed algorithm.
• MIDI Manipulation: I still use the Velocity Curve, Velocity Gate, Soft Hit Level and Smoothing parameters on a per articulation basis as essential tools for creating realistic drum performances. I love the ability to create points anywhere within the velocity curve and the new interface in the Drums tab for all of these settings is just a pleasure to work with.
• Superior Drummer 3 core library: I still love the core Superior Drummer 3 library. In fact, it has become one of my favorites. So many great sounding drums and the core library presets provide endless options and inspiration, which is a ton of fun when playing with an e-kit and coming up with new ideas. Along those lines, I absolutely love the built in mixer FX. I do virtually all of my mixing and processing within Superior Drummer 3. There’s always something new to try with the 35 built in FX and it even makes me think of some production ideas I wouldn’t normally come up with. I especially like the analog style compression, distortion, reverb and modulation FX.
You’re also the drummer behind the Fusion Grooves MIDI pack. How does this collection of fills complement the previous release?
For the Fusion Grooves MIDI pack, I had some very specific drummers and grooves in mind that I wanted to include. The Fusion Fills MIDI pack is right along with that same style and I really wanted it to be an extension of not only the Fusion Grooves MIDI pack, but those specific fills. I wanted to elaborate on ideas that would fit in well with the existing Fusion Grooves songs while drastically expanding the collection of fills.
It’s a pretty comprehensive collection of fills. How were you able to keep it so diverse?
For this MIDI pack, my focus was to take inspiration from the fills I already created for the Fusion Grooves pack and expand on them while also coming up with brand new fills in the fusion style that would work well for that song. I approached it completely from an improvisational standpoint: I started with simpler fills that were less busy both in style and rhythmically. As you progress through the fills for a given song, they become more and more complex, both in the rhythmic rate and with busier hand-foot combinations. I span everything from 8th notes to 32nd notes, including both duple and triplet rhythmic rates in between. One thing I want to note is that I even do this for the “Swung” songs, as the fills become more complex they go from swung 16th notes to sextuplets and eventually to straight 32nd notes. This was actually intentional even though it’s a “Swung” song, because I do this in my own playing. There’s a place where the rhythmic value doesn’t have to be swung anymore and it still works within the swung 16th note style. Typically this is between 16th note triplets (sextuplets) and 32nd notes. If I’m playing a swung groove, I find that I can sneak in 32nd notes in a subtle (or not so subtle) manner and it still works well for swung 16th note triplet style. Either way, any song you choose within the Fusion Fills MIDI pack has a ton of fills to choose from that range from simple to extremely complex, all within the fusion style, where the fills are rudimental in nature with linear hand/foot combinations.
Top five fusion drummers of all time – and why!
This will be quite subjective but here goes:
• Dave Weckl: He was my introduction into the fusion genre and is one of my all time favorite drummers. There’s no other drummer I’ve studied more than him. His work with Chick Corea changed what was thought possible on the drums, and he continues to amaze with his performances to this day. Dave Weckl is the reason I’ve gravitated toward linear grooves and hand/foot combinations and his playing has inspired this ongoing study of what’s possible on the drums.
• Vinnie Colaiuta: A friend of mine introduced me to Vinnie’s playing in college and he quickly became another favorite. His style is also very rudimental and linear in nature with incredible hand/foot combinations but with a different style and temperament then Dave Weckl. Some of the old fusion records that he’s recorded on should be required study for any drummer interested in the fusion genre.
• Dennis Chambers: I discovered Dennis Chambers around the same time as Dave Weckl, and became especially intrigued by his incredibly fast rudimental fusion grooves. He’s considered one of the best drummers of all time for a reason: Any track or performance you listen to with Dennis Chambers is truly inspiring and jaw dropping to witness. He brings a certain energy to the performance that very few can and has the ability to play seemingly impossible grooves and fills with ease.
• Steve Smith: I had the pleasure of watching Steve Smith and Dave Weckl perform on the same stage in each of their bands on the same night, and to be able to watch both perform back to back was something that I will never forget. Steve Smith’s study of motion, rudimental applications on the drum set and drumming history gives him a unique take on the fusion style (not to mention his involvement with one of the biggest rock bands of all time)
• Steve Gadd: Steve Gadd is a drummer that I’ve always listened too but unfortunately was overlooked in my studies by some of the drummers mentioned above. I have since gone back to studying Steve Gadd, listening to old performances and have really come to appreciate not only his involvement in pioneering the fusion style, but also his incredible signature playing that we can only ever attempt to recreate the way he did.