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As digital audio workstations (DAWs) advance, so too does the variety of percussion software available to musicians. The different types of percussion software that have been developed include drums and percussion instruments appropriate for nearly all types of mainstream musical genres, such as Latin, hip hop, dance, or rock. A great deal of music software exists in the form of virtual studio technology (VST), which usually requires DAW software. A DAW is not always required, however, as standalone percussion software does exist. Percussion software has a considerable range of complexity, from simple virtual drum machines to full orchestral percussion.
The sounds available in percussion and drumming software are mostly either carefully recorded audio samples of real instruments or have been developed with the use of a synthesizer. The software can include only acoustic samples, electronically developed synthesizer sounds, or both. Both kinds of sound are used in musical production of many different genres and are generally selected based on the preference of the musician.
Latin percussion programs generally include sounds of instruments such as shakers, cowbells, conga, or tumbadora,drums, bongo drums, and claves. Hip hop often makes use of synthesized kick drums, snares, and hi-hats. Dance percussion software is usually notable for its electronic sounds and lower frequency bass drums, often with heavily modulated, “thumping” kick drums. Rock percussion software is more varied and ordinarily uses acoustically sampled instruments.
Percussion programs may be made up of different sounds from individual instruments, such as kick drums or cymbals, but drum loops are often found in the same package. A drum loop is a snippet of music that can be repeated without a break in tempo. Some percussion applications may allow the user to sample individual instruments from prearranged loops. Percussion loops can range from simple to complex arrangements.
Various other elements on most percussion software can be customized, whether the software is standalone or meant to be used within a DAW. These features may include tempo control, access to an equalizer, pitch and frequency controls, or time stretching. The customizable elements allow the musician or band to greatly alter the available sounds to fit their specific preferences. In addition, most software is also compatible with a musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) device, which can be very useful both for composing and live performances.