How To Program A Drum Track Using MIDI In Reaper DAW Recording Software

How To Program A Drum Track Using MIDI In Reaper DAW Recording Software

September 12, 2019 100 By Kailee Schamberger


– Hi, I’m Jane, and in this video I am going to teach you, step-by-step, exactly how to create your
very first simple drum track. I’m going to use Reaper. You can download that and use
it for 60 days to evaluate it, so you can certainly work
through this tutorial, and then it’s very cost-effective to buy if you find it’s a good
piece of software for you. At the end of the video I’m going to link you
to some extra resources because once you’ve got
your first track in place you’re going to want to progress. So let’s head over to my screen and see exactly how you do it. Step one, start with an empty project. Step two, make sure that you
can see the virtual keyboard. View, Virtual MIDI Keyboard. Make sure that C2 is in the middle. You can use your arrow keys to scroll up and down the octaves. The reason we want C2 in the middle is because we’re going to
start with a kick drum, which is on letter M on your keyboard, or B1 if you’re looking
at a MIDI keyboard, or note number 35. Make sure that the MIDI keyboard is transmitting on channel
10, which is very important. This is the channel that
you use for drum tracks. Step three, let’s set up
and enable the metronome, so if we right-click on
the Metronome button, actually, you do count-in before recording so that you can hear
the speed of the beats, and you won’t want it running
while you’re playing back because it’ll just distract you, so let’s uncheck that box. Now that we’ve set it up, click the button to make
sure that it is enabled. Step four, let’s insert
an instrument on a track, so if we go Insert, Virtual
instrument on new track, what we’re going to use
is we’re going to use, and this just comes built into Reaper in the Instruments section, the Cakewalk TTS-1, which is a standard set of MIDI sounds, and if we use channel 10, you’ll
see, if we just click here, that channel 10 has a GM2 drum set. This is a very standard drum set, and will help you get going. Step four, check that your
track is armed for recording. Usually, when you just insert a new track, it automatically comes
up armed for recording. Now right-click on this button here, and check that you that you have got Record: MIDI overdub. The reason you want to do this is because as you’re looping the track round you want to add MIDI events to it. You don’t want to be wiping out drum beats that you’ve already recorded. You want to sort of
build up layers of drums, one on top of the other. Let’s just check that the
MIDI keyboard is working, so if I just click on
any of the notes here, (kick drum thumping) I can heart the drum beats. If I use my keyboard on
my computer and hit M, (kick drum thumping) so I’ve got my drums all ready to go. Step seven, let’s select a four-bar section that I want to record into, so I’m going to record four bars at a time just to show you how this works. Step eight, make sure that
you go into loop mode. If you look at the Transport bar, you need to click this button here, and it should highlight green, and that will loop around a
section that you highlighted. Okay, now what I’m going to do
is I’m going to click record, and then I’m just going
to click the keyboard to make sure that it comes into focus so that I can start
pressing M on my keyboard and record a kick drum. (metronome clicking) (kick drum thumping) Okay, so now I’ve got a few events. If I double-click here, the step 10 is opening
up the piano roll view. Now, it’s just a few bits for
setting up I need to do here. I’m going to scroll in a bit
so we can see the section bit bigger. Because I’ve already been
programming some drums, I’m seeing my notes as diamonds. If you don’t see diamonds,
you’re seeing little rectangles, you might want to go here and view the piano roll notes and make sure that Diamonds is selected. Now, if we click anywhere here, you’ll hear that you’re
not hearing drum sounds, you’re hearing a piano sound, so what we need to do is filter so that we only hear drum sounds, so if I click the MIDI Filter button here and check Channel 10 like that, (percussion sounds ringing) all the notes that I draw from now on will only go out on channel 10, and so we’ll only hear the drum kit. The next thing I want to do is I want to customize these note names here. These numbers are not very intuitive, so although I can hear that they’re drums, I’m not exactly sure which ones are which. Now, in Reaper, and in most DAWs, it’s possible to customize
the names of the notes, which will make it much easier when it comes to doing more
fine-tuning of the programming. All I need is a little
text file with a drum map. Now, if you go over to my site you’ll be able to download
the general MIDI-to-drum map. I’ve already prepared that,
so what I’m going to do is I’m going to choose File,
Customize note names, Load note names from file,
and import the GM2 Drum Map, and now this is looking much better because what I’m seeing is names of drums, so we’ve got Crash Cymbal,
Cowbell, Mid Tom, Open Hi-Hat, all the drum names labeled, and we’ve also got the note numbers, which is very handy if
you’re trying to map them to the notes on the keyboard, so you see here note number 35 on M is a kick drum. The next thing to do is
to line these beats up because although they’re not
too bad, they’re obviously, obviously you want your drum
pattern exactly in time, so what you do is click
anywhere in the grid, right-click, drag, and you can select all the
events that you’re interested in, and then, if you hit the
Quantize button, okay, you should see that they all shift to be exactly lined up
with the beats on the bar. Just have to click OK to
accept what I just did. Let’s have a listen. (kick drum thumping) So what we’ve got now is we’ve got a kick drum on every beat. It’s a classic four-on-the-floor beat. I’d like to actually move the second and the
fourth beat on each bar up to the snare drum instead to get a different sounding pattern, so what I’m going to do
is I click that one there, and then hold my Control down
and click every other diamond (kick drum thumping) so that I’ve selected them. What I can do now is move
them up onto the snare drum. (snare drum cracks) Okay, let’s listen to what we’ve got now. (drums beating) We’ve almost got our first
simple drum track in place. Just to show you how to overdub more
drum patterns into this, I’m gonna add a hand clap on the and of each fourth beat, if you see what I mean, okay? So I can either do that by drawing it in directly
here by double-clicking, where’s my Hand Clap, there. (hands clap) Okay, let’s delete that. Well, the other thing to do is
to see which note it maps to, note number 39, so that’s
the 3 on my keyboard. Okay, and what I’m gonna do is I’m going to set the loop
playing and recording, and I’m going to try and
beat it in at the right time, so let’s go to the beginning
by clicking this button here, and let’s start recording. (metronome clicking) One, two, three, four,
(drums beating) and one, two, three, four. Not quite on the beat. Never mind. As you’ve seen before, we can
just highlight those notes. (hands clapping) Okay, so those are the
notes I’m interested in. Press the Quantize button. I don’t want to quantize all the notes, just the ones that I’ve selected. Okay, and you can see that
it’s actually moved them right onto the grid. Okay, let’s just play
that at the beginning. (drums beating) So there you go, a simple drum track that I could now copy, repeat, add extra drums into, add fills, and so on. So if you hop over to my site now, you can download a cheat sheet
that you can have next to you while you’re recording
your first drum track, and you can also download the GM2 drum map that I promised you, and finally, I really
suggest that you take a look at “#HitIt: The Ultimate
Guide to Programming Drums.” I’ve only covered a
very basic pattern here. You’re going to want to build the beat up, put in more drum variations, fills, learn how to humanize your
drum tracks, and so on, and I really recommend this book. It’s a fantastic resource, so follow the link below, and thanks for watching. See you next time.