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PCRECORDING.COM - Interview with Frank Basile, founder of Drag and Drop Drummer

1. Who were the founders of dddrummer?

I started ddd back in 1998 by writing down program ideas, creating bit map images, and recording test drum loops. I met Gary MacDougall in 1999, and being an accomplished programmer/developer, he showed interest in helping me put the interface together.

2. What is their background?

Being a drummer, I went to Berklee College of Music to become a rock star (which I found out was not so easy), but soon switched my major to music production and engineering. During college I opened a recording studio, and played in various bands to pay the bills. After college, I started working part-time at Cakewalk Music Software, which got me more interested in computer based recording.

Gary, a graduate from Framingham State College, has worked as a programmer/developer for numerous companies, including Willow Pond and Restrac/Webhire where he is now a group manager in charge of development teams. He plays guitar and bass, and is also interested in computer based recording.

3. dddrummer has recently released the Drag and Drop Drummer Dry Studio Kit CD. What was the original idea/reason for coming up with it?

Working at Cakewalk, I saw there was a need for an easy way for people to get drum loops into their songs. People were wasting time going through explorer type windows, trying to find the right loop, and not having any easy way to create drum tracks. I also saw there was a lack of drum loops offered that were not Techno or DJ type beats. So it was important to create drum loops that could be used by people with different musical tastes.

4. What was the need that you saw needed to be filled?

People want to write music, and not have to spend most of their time figuring out software, or editing drums. They need to put together good drum tracks fast and easy, so they can concentrate on their own performance.

5. Drag and Drop Drummer comes as a shareware plugin with Cakewalk Pro 9. What has your feedback been since that started?

Actually, Cakewalk comes with a Trial Edition of ddd, which has the same interface program as the full version, but only comes with a few loops. The program can be launched easily from Cakewalk's Tools menu, so it may seem that ddd is a plug-in, but it is indeed a separate program that can be used with any PC audio/Midi sequencing program, not just Cakewalk. The response has been overwhelming, because the people with the Trial Edition can really get a feel for how the program works, and see for themselves how easy creating drum tracks can be.

6. How is Drag and Drop Drummer different than competitors?

I don't know if ddd is actually competing with any other companies, because some of the features we offer I've not seen in any other programs. For example, ddd offers both audio and Midi loops, where most content companies do one or the other. We also offer the audio loops at different tempos, most only have the loops available at one tempo, we have six. The ddd program interface is so small, so it can sit on top of your audio/Midi program so you can quickly get a drum loop whenever needed. Oh yeah, and there is a Matching SoundFont file which can allow you to mix the audio and Midi loops together, and have them sound the same.

7. In general, how does it work?

For the user it's pretty simple - You put the CD in, start ddd, pick a loop, choose a tempo, and drag it into your sequencer. Technically what happens is that when you select a loop, the program looks at the CD-ROM drive to find the correct file. Once the correct file is found, it can be auditioned, and dragged from ddd. Since the CD contains close to 650 MB of loop files, it's necessary to always have the CD in the drive when using ddd, as opposed to copying all the loops to your hard drive. Once you drag a loop into your audio/Midi program, the file is copied to your hard drive, and you do not need the CD in the drive anymore, since your song file will now contain the loops.

8. What features/upgrades are you planning on adding to Drag and Drop Drummer?

The program itself will not change too much over the next 6 months, but we will be releasing many more content CDs with different style loops this year. The next CD release will be the "R&B/Hip-Hop Kit", followed by a "Percussion Kit" CD, and a "Power Pop/Rock Kit".

9. What is the next big leap for dddrummer?

More CDs, and more distribution. Currently we are working on distribution deals in the UK. Also, I'd like to get more Trial Editions distributed with other software and hardware companies. When people use the Trial Edition, they can see first hand how useful this program can be. We have also considered releasing CDs with other instrument loops, such as bass and horns, but that is still in its planning stage.

10. Do you have any plans to write drivers for the Be operating system?

We don't write any drivers, but if a significant amount of users show interest in this OS, we may consider supporting it.

11. Where do you see the home recording studio market heading?

As with most music software companies, I see the market just getting bigger and bigger. With new computer hardware getting faster by the minute, and internet multimedia technology allowing people to communicate their music like never before, I think the home composer/musician can finally start to get their music heard, without bowing down to the big record companies. It's putting all of us on a more level playing field.

And with loop CDs like ddd, the writer can create songs that sound like they were recorded in a professional studio, with professional musicians, in a fraction of the time. It's really an exciting time for computer musicians. But of course, nothing can replace the ears of a good engineer, or the vision of a good producer.

12. What is the coolest thing about Drag and Drop Drummer? What is the least understood?

I'd say the coolest thing is the ease of use the program provides, while being able to choose from hundreds of loops that can all be mixed and matched. It really does make creating great drum tracks a simple, and fun process.

What's least understood is probably the Matching SoundFont files. Audio drum loops sound more realistic than most Midi loops, simply because they're an actual performance, recorded in real-time. Where Midi loops may be recorded in real-time too, they lack the dynamics and sound that a real drummer can achieve from an acoustic drum kit. The Matching SoundFont files allow people to use Midi loops that they create themselves, knowing that they will sound like the audio loops. So you can mix both audio and Midi loops together, in the same song. This allows the writer to use his or her own creative ideas, without sacrificing the drum sound.

13. Approximately how many musicians are using Drag and Drop Drummer today?

The full version CD has sold a few hundred in just the first six weeks since it's release, and the Lite version of ddd that comes with Cakewalk's Guitar Tracks program has sold a few thousand. We predict, between the full version and the Lite version, that over ten thousand people will be using ddd by the end of 2000.

14. What role do you see the Internet taking in the development of the digital recording field?

With the advent of streaming audio, like MP3 files, the Internet has already established itself as a legitimate means of communication between musicians, producers, writers, and music lovers. And this communication will only improve as faster connections are made available to more and more people. As a result of this improved communication, music will sound better, because software developers can better understand what audio engineers and home recordist are looking for.

15. Why should a customer buy Drag and Drop Drummer?

Because like a lot of writers/musicians, they're tired of learning new complicated software just to record their songs. Drag and Drop Drummer is used with their existing audio/Midi programs, not instead of, which allows people to easily create great drum tracks without spending hours learning a new program.

But before buying a ddd CD, I recommend people try the Trial Edition first, and see for themselves how easy (and fun) creating drum tracks can be.

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