Kontakt: saving midi drum files

I want to be able to record a drum pattern from Kontakt, and to know that when I play it back through e.g. Media Player as a MIDI file, it is rendered as GM drums, and not as a discordant piano.

The key to everything is Channel 10, and making sure that Kontakt is set to play back on Channel 10. As usual, I’m using Reaper as my DAW, so I need to set that to Record/Output/MIDI. I have proven to myself that the Reaper end of things does not need to specify Channel 10.

This is a sequence that works for me (I am not covering how to set up a VST (specifically Kontakt, in this case) to work with Reaper):

  • Reaper/New Project/SaveProjectAs[DrumTest01]
  • Track/Insert virtual instrument on new track/OK
  • My Kontakt portal opens, and includes Factory Library.
  • In there I double-click on Studio Break Kit.nki
  • In the MIDI channel setting, from the dropdown, I choose Port A / Channel 10
  • Back in Reaper, I set Record Output to midi. Note that I am not setting Channel 10 explicitly here:
  • I then arm/record, and back in Kontakt, I hold down the pattern at the highlighted B (I just like that pattern – the fact it is on B is not significant.
  • Stop the recording, do any tidying up that you want:

Now for the export. There is more than one way to do this, but for the example, in the midi editor, follow the highlights I show below, and save to your chosen name and place:


And finally the big test: in Windows Explorer (I’m on Windows, apologies if you are not), open the midi file with Media Player, QuickTime, or somesuch. If you hear something like , (SoundCloud1), then you have saved your midi data and metadata correctly. If you hear something like this… , then back to the drawing board, I fear.

Finally, keep in mind that what you hear in your DAW from your expensive Drum VST will likely be different from how the drum pattern renders the data when going through the default player for midi. I might therefore ask… “What then is the point of going to MIDI, if the quality will be better in the original DAW/VST?”. Because I effectively have the source code. If I only have the rendered output, then I have no chance (well, little chance), of tinkering with the input, or applying different drum kits to my lovingly created drum patterns. The midi file is your music score, which can go through different versions, and with the right editing tools (haven’t found out what those are yet, but they must surely exist, given that MIDI is a standard specification), you can confirm exactly what changed between 2 versions.

Music: drum notation

Picture says it all:

In a DAW, those 3 drum types are represented as C(bass), D(snare), and G#(hi-hat). So that will be confusing for anyone maybe expecting F(bass), C(snare), and G(hi-hat), as it were a treble clef. Here’s how something a bit more regular than than above looks like in a DAW (Reaper, in this case):

Then I went looking for a song to test out my new found knowledge. On YouTube, there is a very good drum tutor, who kindly also includes the drum notation for what he shows. He demonstrated Superstition:

I took the first 7 bars from the pdf in the demo and stuck that in a Reaper and midi file. It’s here. I can’t guarantee it will always stay in that location, but if you look for [SuperstitionStart] in GitHub, you should find it if it does move.

While doing this, I found a great free drum VST – http://www.powerdrumkit.com/. Those are the drums you here in the wav I recorded for this.

Music: NI Battery 4 first impressions

This is part of my long trawl through Komplete 10. I was going to tackle the drum parts in 1 go… but they are quite different, one from the other, so that won’t work.

This is more drum machine than er drum kits, with loads of samples. Here I’ve posted a trivial mp3 of a pattern using the Alias kit. The midi is also in that folder.

 

Music: drum notation

Thanks to Wikipedia for this contribution on drum notation – really useful. As an example..

(Both by Hyacinth at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27408981)

Hm, hang on… so even in the above we have some disagreement about what is what (e.g. the “crotchet” dissecting line 3, which is one case is a snare… else a tom?). And then when you include this picture from the evidently now-defunct drumbook.org, you get more disagreements (e.g. the position of the ride (cymbal))…

Hm, maybe better off sticking to Midi.


Music: drum programming

I found a wav drum track that I liked, and wanted to work out the basic rhythms. This is an extract slowed down first to 60 bpm, to understand the structure, followed by 128 bpm, the true speed:

And this is my rendering, which I freely accept is rubbish next to that. But I decided to put fidelity to the original on one side, as it was hard enough to work out the elements of the beat. Once slowed down, it becomes clear..ish that there is basically a big kick every crotchet, with some claps syncopating over that. The big extras that I don’t have are a) the sustain on the drum, with I suspect a bass guitar or synth playing at the same, and b) the varying pitch of the claps. All in good time…

And the midi file I made.

 

 

 

EzDrummer and Reaper: a basic tutorial

Summary

This is about how to use EzDrummer in Reaper – it may be the same for other DAWs, but I can only be certain for Reaper.

A key point is that in order to drag bars from EzDrummer into the DAW Reaper,  you need to run Reaper in Administrator mode. If you don’t do that, then the drag just fails silently.

Beyond that point, this is largely about getting EzDrummer to do some of the “hard work” (quotes because nothing here is what a drummer would call hard work).

Prep

I’m using EZDrummer 2, the Cocktail drum set (which I think is a free add-on with EzDrummer), and the latest version of Reaper, all on Windows 10 pre-release. The goal is to get a few bars working, and save that to SoundCloud so you can hear how my version sounds.

Steps

Start a Reaper project as Administrator, then…

EzDrummerCocktail01

There follows an assumption that you have told Reaper where to look for your VSTs – email me if questions on that…

EzDrummerCocktail02

I have then answered No to this question:

EzDrummerCocktail03

EzDrummer then comes up – I’ve picked these options for my example – you of course don’t have to, but it makes it simpler if you are following along:

EzDrummerCocktail04

Then click on the Browser tab and the menu options as I have done here:

EzDrummerCocktail05

Click on Song Creator, and drag the highlighted midi into the MIDI drop zone:Then select [Verse 4], unselect [Follow Host] and set Tempo to 104 (that’s my taste, anyway):

EzDrummerCocktail07

Drag 4 copies of [Verse 4] into Bars 1 through 4 (I’ll explain why in a moment):

EzDrummerCocktail08

You will now add basic Claps, Shakers and Tambourines to bars 2 to 4 respectively (leaving Bar 1 as-is). Right-click on Bar 2 and select [Edit Play Style]:

EzDrummerCocktail09

In the [Edit Play Style] screen, for each of bars 2 to 4 (but not bar 1, we’ll leave that as-is), you will select the Claps etc as shown by the orange, maroon, and white lines, so for bar 2, you only select (by clicking the On-Button symbol) the Claps, but for bar 4 you are selecting all 3 options:

EzDrummerCocktail10

For example, this is how Bar 4 looks, with all options selected:

EzDrummerCocktail11

Now, drag Bar 1 into the Reaper track, and then extend the bar in Reaper to make 2 bars, which repeat the loop, Press the Reaper Play button, and you will hear 2 bars, at 104 BPM, with no added effects:

EzDrummerCocktail13

After checking that works for you, drag Bar 2 up from EzDrummer, into bar 3, and extend into bar 4. Then Bar 3 in EZD into bar 5 and 6, and finally Bar 4 in EZD into bar 7 and 8, giving you something that looks like this…

EzDrummerCocktail14

… and sounds like this (there is a download link in this if you want to save for offline playing):

You can clearly do more complex stuff – it would be nice to get the claps on an off-beat. Some other time.