Creating MIDI Drum Parts, Pt 1

Last updated on 3/31/2016

For many users, MIDI allows unprecedented freedom to play parts that would otherwise be either physically or logistically impossible.  For others, the speed and ease with which tracks can be edited, makes recording MIDI tracks ideal.  And for anyone who can’t track live instruments in their house (i.e. those of us with neighbors), MIDI represents the perfect controlled environment.

In this tip we’ll focus on creating and editing drum and rhythm sections in Cakewalk using MIDI.  All you’ll need to get started is your Cakewalk software, a MIDI synthesizer or your favorite DXi, and a MIDI controller such as a keyboard.

  1. To start, setup a MIDI track and set the Inputs. You’ll probably want to use MIDI Omni.

  2. Set the Outputs to your MIDI Synthesizer or DXi. Note that on most soundcards and General MIDI keyboards you’ll also need to set the Channel to 10 in order to access the drum sounds. 

    DXi Setup Note - If you are planning on using a DXi for your sound source, you’ll need to set up an Audio track at this point. To adjust DXi latency go to the  Options menu, click Audio and lower your latency for the time being).

  3. Next, go to the Transport menu and click Loop and Auto Shuttle. Set the length of the drum loop you want to record.  In the case of a 4 measure loop, set the Start Time to 1:00:00 and the End Time to 5:01:000.

  4. Set the Tempo in your project accordingly.

  5. Arm your MIDI track and click Record. Start small by recording one drum sound at a time. In this example let’s play a hi hat. Play your hi hat pattern in measures 1 through 4.

  6. Rewind, then give the recording a listen. If your performance was close but had a few rhythm problems, select the notes and choose Edit | Quantize to nudge them back into time.

  7. Now repeat steps 5 & 6, entering your kick, snare or any other drums.

Continue to part two of this tip >>

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