Creating Rhythmic Effects with Drum Machines + Tube Tape Echo
Today, I’m going to talk about using a vintage drum machine, and a Fulltone Tube Tape Echo to create some really interesting rhythmic effects. I sat down with my good friend, Nick Oddy, who’s a composer for film and video game soundtracks, as well as a member of the band, Zammuto, and he’s going to walk us through the process because he owns one of these old vintage drum machines.
What’s really cool about this process, is if you don’t own the vintage or analog gear, you’re not going to be limited to getting some of these effects into your productions. It could be done with using Logic’s Tape plug-in. They have a tape echo plug-in. PSP makes a really nice analog, tape-ish sounding delay plug-in, and UAD has their own Echoplex plug-in, which is fantastic.
Any of those will do. It’s not particularly dependent on a specific brand or analog model of delay, and also, if you search the web, you can find people that have sampled a lot of these old drum machine rhythms at varying tempos.
If you do a little bit of homework, you can find these old school sounds, but it’s also worth noting that these techniques can be applied to very modern sounding drum loops and drum machines as well.
Let’s check out how Nick approaches using these two devices.
Nick: Well, there isn’t really a process. It’s all really trial-and-error. The idea is basically you’ve got to go back to what people like Brian Eno used to do in the 70’s where you take one of these drum-machines/rhythm boxes, Rhythm King in this case, that was made to accompany organ players, and sometimes guitar players so you could have a drummer who wouldn’t complain.
But, when you start running them into tape echos, magical things start happening. So we’ll start with just the dry sound, which is a mambo and valero*** combo. That’s the great thing about this box. You can combine any two of these rhythms.
So, we’ll take the mambo and the valero…
Then you start fading in some echo…
[drum machine, with echo]
…and you get some other drummers who are coming in. There we go.
[drums continue playing]
I mean, I could listen to that all night.
So then, maybe messing with the delay time and see what that does. Let’s see what happens.
[drum machine playing]
Crank up the repeats…
[drum machine playing]
Oh, yeah. That’s good. [laughs]
There’s a lot of trial-and-error, but then you find it when it locks into a groove like that, I mean all of – there’s so many possibilities out of this thing that’s just in a loop. We can play it forever.
And actually, Kraftwerk, I believe, used the same box on Trans-Zero Express, and they modified it so that they could actually play those hits. I don’t know how they did that back in 1973, or whenever that album came out, but they opened up the back and had their own sort of drum pad that they connected into the back of this thing, and they played those hits.
You know? But with sticks.
Swing and Rumba sound like together.
I’m happy with that.
It’s really incredible too when you kind of change the balance between this thing and the echo volume. It really changes your perception of what the rhythm is, you know?
Adjust the echo. Then bring in your original signal. And again, that’s the original by itself.