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What Is a Virtual Drumline?

A. Leverkuhn
A. Leverkuhn

A virtual drumline is a specific kind of percussion software that provides a range of drum sounds for digital music projects. According to the common definition of the term, virtual drumline software does not offer full composition capacity for percussion, but usually just provide samples of a range of drums. Virtual drumlines are often compatible with other music technologies that allow for advanced uses like composition.

VDL, or virtual drumline software, is so-called because, like a live drumline, it includes many different types of drums. At the low end of the percussion register, the bass drum provides a signature booming sound. Quality sampling for virtual drumline software allows musicians to synthesize the kinds of bass drum sounds that listeners would hear in live concert or marching band music. The VDL software is especially useful when including a live bass drum sound would require moving these heavy and bulky percussion instruments.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Along with the bass drum, many of the samples in virtual drumline software have a signature sound that replicates a sound heard in live music. One of the most common sounds is the sound of the snare drum. The snare drum is a moderately sized drum head where an applied metal accessory creates a rattling sound when the drum is hit. The snare drum is extremely useful in military music and many other kinds of musical projects. It is almost always included in virtual drumlines.

Other percussion items that are usually involved in the virtual drumline include the tom, cymbal, and hi-hat. The tom is a general term for a non-snare round drum. A cymbal is a flat metal piece that makes a metallic ringing sound when hit. The hi-hat is a set of two cymbals that can be manipulated to produce either a ringing open sound or a crisp closed sound. Other instrument sounds like tambourines and maracas may also be included.

Musicians use a virtual drumline to provide a background for all kinds of digital projects. Some of those who are trying to synthesize the complex sounds of live events can use a virtual drumline to imitate the percussion of a full marching band. Others might use virtual drumlines to replicate rock music sounds that come from a conventional drum kit. Various manufacturers compete to offer VDL software products that accommodate uses for simulating concert and band music alike, with easy use and convenient features that help composers to get more realistic percussive sound into their projects.

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