It's no secret that at Hexinverter we love drums. Our Mutant Drums line now includes six versatile drum modules and a dedicated mixer - we think they're the best electronic drums in modular land!
Drum modules aren't in all modular users' systems. In fact, they're almost a niche interest in the already niche world of modular. Some people use external drum machines or a DAW and think of their modular as a complex synth voice or voices, many use non-drum modules to create drum sounds from scratch, and many others produce drone/ambient/experimental music that doesn't feature any "traditional" drum sounds.
But...much of the explosive growth in Eurorack in the last few years has come from the world of electronic dance music production, in which electronic drum sounds are ubiquitous and defining. And well-designed drum modules can be useful even in music that does not feature "traditional" drum sounds.
So, what is it that modular drums bring to a modular setup?
ICONIC VINTAGE SOUNDS
Many drum machines have been produced over the years but it sometimes feels like there were only ever two: the legendary Roland TR-808 and TR-909. Yes, they're over 30 years old, unreliable, eye-wateringly expensive, and have a limited feature-set, but still they sound fantastic. Plenty of music producers want those familiar drum sounds in their music; maybe re-sampled, perhaps heavily processed, but still recognisable.
Accurate reproductions of these classic drum circuits are now widely available in Eurorack format as clones and compared to the original machines they’re cheap. A clone typically has the features the original drum machine had – perhaps an attack, decay, pitch and level control, which can probably be adjusted with your fingers and not cv. Several clones can be bought for a similar price or less than a modern analogue drum machine, giving you basic (but great sounding) analogue drums in your Eurorack system, ready to be sequenced, processed and effected - all within the modular environment if you so choose.
If all you need are basic drum sounds, Eurorack has you covered. There are many interesting ways to sequence drums in a modular synth that can give you completely different results than a typical x0x drum machine (a topic for another blog post) so there are ample reasons to go this route.
WILD NEW SOUNDS
But modular is all about discovering new sounds - why settle for standard drum hits? A more featured modular drum, even one closely modeled on a classic circuit like the TR-808 snare drum, can produce a huge variety of wild percussive sounds. In the Mutant Drums parameters go further than the originals, parameters that were fixed are no longer fixed, and some parameters can be modulated via cv, allowing for completely new timbres and evolving hits.
In this video we've taken a classic 808 style drum pattern, in the old school electro style, and given it the Mutant Drum treatment.
As you can see, it is not that hard to take something recognisable, even humdrum, and change it into something dynamic and original.
How do you approach drums in your modular system? Leave us a comment below!