Groove Agent 2
Remember those old-fashioned drum-machines – the ones with buttons for Waltz, Rhumba, Foxtrot, Rock, Shuffle, Tango and suchlike? The sounds were definitely a bit cheesy, but they did have the advantage that you instantly got a drum pattern to play along to. It turns out that these were the inspiration behind Steinberg's Groove Agent virtual drummer – which has just been updated to version 2.
Simply drag the Timeline slider from left to right to select the drumming style and hit the Run button to hear the drums play. Just below this, the Complexity slider lets you alter the complexity of the patterns. The row of buttons below the Complexity slider lets you switch between Snare and Rimshot, add an Accent, introduce Fills, or switch to the half-tempo feel.
Groove Agent works as a VST or AU plug-in with Cubase or Logic. It also supports ReWire and can run stand-alone so you can connect it to applications such as Pro Tools.
Groove Agent 1 included a 50s jazz kit, a 60s pop kit, a 70s rock kit, and an 80s studio kit played in appropriate styles. For example, the 50s drums are played with brushes and mallets and the 80s kit has piccolo and deep snares played with rods. Groove Agent 2 adds a Studio kit with a choice of snares; a heavy metal kit with powerful cymbals; and a small vintage kit with an ultra-modern sound and a selection of extra snares, including a Slingerland Radio King.
Funnily enough, the cheesy patterns such as the 50s Bossa Nova and Samba were the most inspiring for me – I didn't find the more recent styles as convincing. Still, Groove Agent 2 has lots more styles and drum kits so there should be something to suit most people's tastes. And I really liked hearing some of those old CR78 rhythm machine patterns again!