Rock ‘n’ Roll in a digital age

Many people are of the opinion that rock ‘n’ roll isn’t really rock ‘n’ roll unless you have a 12 piece drum kit, 14 rows of Marshall stacks, and at least 4 bottles of bourbon. Digital??? Pfffft, that’s for nerds!

Well it might surprise some of those people how far digital virtual instruments (VIs) have come. The video below was all created using VIs, except for the vocals. Granted, the VIs used in this example are all sampled, so the individual sounds do come from real acoutic kits, and real guitars going through real amps. But all the beats & licks are generated using a MIDI controller triggering those samples. Let’s look at what we have:

  • The drum kit is supplied by AIR Music Technology‘s Strike 2 plugin. As well as several different kits, this plugin provides hundreds of MIDI drum patterns that can be triggered by MIDI. It also allows you to setup fills that only play through once when triggered, then go back to the previous pattern. Very handy! And lots of ways to vary the timing, variation, tone, and a bunch of other different things to make it as rock ‘n’ roll as John Bonham.
  • The bass guitar is again provided by AIR Music Technology with their multi-instrument Xpand!2 plugin. This plugin is included with Pro Tools, and has hundreds of sampled instruments to choose from, bass is just one that I use it for regularly. John Entwistle, eat your heart out!
  • The rockin’ guitars are provided by Virtual Guitarist‘s IRON plugin. This plugin has a metric bazillion samples & styles of rock guitars with different tones, playing styles, and ambiances. Like Strike 2, they can be triggered by an intuitive keyboard arrangement, to help you really get your Gary Moore on. And Virtual Guitarist have 3 other plugins that provide all the Acoutic, Classical, and Alt Rock sounds you’ll ever need.

Now I’m the first to admit that no, these plugins will never replace a real band. And I’ve yet to figure out how to get them to pour me a glass of bourbon. But as you listen to the following song, I think you can agree this technology has certainly come a long way. I’m sure there’s people working on vocal emulations too!