Kontakt and Reaper: Drum and bass (not drum’n’bass)

Well, actually DNB has hijacked all the alternative spellings I think, so for the sake of clarity (current fave caveat-phrase), this is drums… (pause) and bass on separate tracks, pop, rock, whatever, but not DNB. Oooff, as John Shuttleworth might say. In fact, gratuitous plug for him.

DrumAndBass01ForGitHub

All the files are here.

DrumAndBass01ForGitHub02

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.

Komplete 10: Session Strings

To get to Session Strings, you go via Kontakt. I found that to record a (midi) session, I had to go into Reaper (that is, my DAW). Even then it was not enough just to have a hack using the on-screen keyboard – I had to hook up the (piano) keyboard. Only then would it record. And this is some real simple rendered output on SoundCloud, around C and G.

Reaper: adding notes to a track

I would have thought that any decent DAW would have the means to save notes/comments against a track out-of-the-box. Well, Reaper certainly is decent, but does not have this ability natively. Happily someone has written a DLL (TrackNotepad.dll) to do that as a plug-in. As it is not well-publicised, I’ve saved it away in case one day that link is no longer there.

In order to use it…

  • download the zip file
  • expand it
  • save the expanded file to one of the DLL folders that Reaper scans
  • Do a rescan in Reaper
  • On a new or existing track, click the FX button, as you would if you were adding a music-type DLL
  • Locate the plug-in, and add it to your track
  • The notepad is then available using the ellipsis control in the TRHC of the track/plugin editor – there is no dedicated save button in the track

ReaperNotes01

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…

ReaperClaps04

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

ReaperClaps05

, 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:

ReaperClaps03

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

ReaperClaps06

Which now changes the rhythm to this:

Reaper: copying notes, quantizing

Copying notes

Starting with this view: ReaperCopy01 … double-click inside the yellow to bring up the midi editor. Then, decide what source area you want to copy from, and as shown in the picture below, right click a corner of the source area, drag a rectangle, and release: ReaperCopy02 After you have dragged the rectangle, you will have this, that is, the selected area is now highlighted: ReaperCopy03   The action of copying and pasting is then done in one go (in contrast to the the normal Windows actions where ctrl-c puts the selection into the clipboard, and ctrl-v pastes it elsewhere), by holding down the Ctrl key, hovering over one of the selected items until the cursor changes to a pointer with a plus symbol (I can’t show that symbol right now), and then dragging the block to its destination: ReaperCopy04 Now, people who use Reaper every day might well say it is all in the manual, but I find it is not at all obvious, given the absence of diagrams on this. The specific challenge I find is pasting stuff from the clipboard – it pastes to the end of the song, and not to any obvious place I can understand. When I need to master that, I’ll update this. Quanitization Unless you truly have a mass of notes that are off, I prefer dragging notes to the right place, as to my ear, quantization does something weird to the quality of the notes. So if I do have a mass of notes… But I couldn’t even find where to quantize in Reaper at first. Again it is down to the midi editor, so drill into that again. In the editor you have the toolbar, which by default contains an icon for quantization: ReaperCopy05 Click on that, and you get this: ReaperQuantize01 That is all I have to say about quantization at this point – I just wanted to know where it was.

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.