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: getting claps on the up-beat

I know what I mean. Take a look back at this entry about the Cocktail drums and using claps (and other percussion), as this is our starting point.

Get to a point where you have this in the Edit Play Style bottom section…


, this in Reaper (and notice the 8 beats to the bar)


, and which sounds like this:

So that is all dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum. Now open up the Midi Editor for that track, and you see this:


That second note from the left, above? Drag that to the right to give this:


Which now changes the rhythm to this:

EzDrummer and Reaper: a basic tutorial


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).


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.


Start a Reaper project as Administrator, then…


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


I have then answered No to this question:


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:


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


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):


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


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]:


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:


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


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:


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…


… 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.