First off, I'd like to applaud Tapspace for their outstanding library. They really have done a wonderful job sampling it. I've been using VDL for a little more than a year now, and it is still my marching percussion VST of choice. For most of my works, I use Finale 2011 to score, and Cubase 5 to create the accompanying audio. However, I like to make a few little edits to the instruments to make Virtual Drumline even better. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create ";real"; snareline sounds. What I essentially mean by ";real"; is that we will be layering the instruments on top of each other to create a true feeling of minuscule variations in drum tuning and playing technique. This tutorial is for Cubase only, as I am not very familiar with other software.
[center]So, let's begin![/center]
[center][u][b]STEP ONE - Load 'Em Up![/b][/u][/center] Open up Cubase, and select the Devices menu. Scroll down to VST Instruments, and choose Kontakt Player 2. Now, select Instruments, then Drumline Battery, 1. Snares, and then choose the Snareline Manual (MW) instrument. You can use the LITE version of the instrument instead if you want, but [i]not[/i] the AutoRL instruments, the VDL1 instrument, or the Solo Mylar/Kevlar Snare instruments. Load four copies of the Snareline Manual (MW) instrument.
[center][u][b]STEP TWO - Tweaks[/b][/u][/center] Now, go to the second copy's panel in Kontakt's main window. Press Shift and drag the Tune knob until it reads 0.33. Do the same with the fourth copy's Tune knob, but instead change it to -0.33. This will simulate the minute differences in tuning between snares. Now, set up four channels in Cubase, and name them Snare 1, Snare 2, Snare 3, and Snare 4. Select Snare 1. To the left, there should be a small clock with two arrows next to it to the left of a slider. This is your Track Delay, measured in Milliseconds. Drag the slider until it reads 4.00. Leave Snare 2 as is. Change Snare 3's delay to -4.00, and Snare 4's to -8.00. Not only does this give us a little bit of variation between timing and add a tiny it of realistic ";dirt,"; it also somewhat replicates the phasing present on a field, in which one snare may not be in the same position as the other. To further replicate this, locate the MIDI Pan slider, directly above the Track Delay slider. Change Snare 1's Pan to -12, Snare 2's to -6, Snare 3's to 6, and Snare 4's to 12. This adds the feeling that each snare is standing next to another, instead of ";on top"; of each other.
[center][u][b]STEP THREE - Tweaks, Act II[/b][/u][/center] Input any kind of rhythm into Snare 1's track, to test. Use only F#6 and G#6 for now. Copy that rhythm to Snares 2-4. Then, shift Snare 1's rhythm up by two octaves. Leave Snare 2's rhythm as is. Take Snare 3's rhythm and reverse the right-handed stickings with the left-handed ones. Change Snare 4's rhythm by shifting it both two octaves up and inverting the stickings. By now, your virtual snareline should sound much more realistic than VDL's default Snareline Manual (MW) instrument. But we aren't finished quite yet! Go back to Kontakt Player 2, and select the Outputs button at the top. Under St. 1's first menu, select Reverb. Adjust the reverb to your preferences, but always be subtle with it. Nothing ruins a perfectly good piece like overdosing on reverb. Now, fiddle with the velocities of the notes in each track a little. This is because not every snare drummer will produce the exact same sound from their drum. Once you're happy with the velocities, give it a play.
[center]VIOLA![/center] You're finished! Your snareline should sound much better than it ever has before. All of the numbers mentioned above can be changed and experimented with, so find what works for you. Also, this technique could theoretically be applied to make a true tenorline and bassline, although I have not attempted this yet.
Attached to this post is a before/after comparison of the snarelines, using Banished Beyond's Lion King Lick. Sorry for those ";machine gun"; diddles and rolls, I haven't quite worked out a system for fixing that just yet. If you have any questions, feel free to respond.
[center][b]Thanks for reading![/b][/center]
NOTE: This is the FIRST REVISION. I will update the techniques I use as I learn what works better. I would love to hear what everybody else thinks, so please reply!