How/where to get realistic midi conga or bongo rhy

Tough getting it to sound natural

I record a lot of latin type stuff and I’m trying to create the sound of someone playing along say on the bongos or congas.

I’m having a tough time doing this is midi. The output is not the problem - my actual samples are OK - but I find getting a natural feel with accents etc in the midi data is really hard. I find it next to impossible to get a natural sounding rhythm by entering the midi data with a keyboard controller, and editing by hand in piano roll doesn’t help much either.

So my question is how can I get some better, more realistic midi data for this:

-anyone know any good sources of midi on the web where I could download this sort of thing? or
-maybe suggest some software that will generate the midi data I want or
-suggest a more effective way of entering the data than I am currently?


I know you’re looking for MIDI advice, but… Why not just buy a set of cheap bongos ($50?) and play them yourself?

The KTDrumTrigger plugin is apparently able to generate MIDI drum events from audio signals, so theoretically you could pound on a table or something and turn it into MIDI events with velocity info, which of course could be used for your bongo samples. [edit: I assume that the plugin’s “support for velocity sensitivity” means that it generates different velocities based on the volume of the audio, but I’m not sure. If it doesn’t, it wouldn’t really help much, in which case–sorry!] I’ve never used it myself, but I’m going to try it out–sounds kinda useful. Also, there’s probably other stuff out there that can do the same thing, as well, but I haven’t looked.


Just a thort - maybe switch off “snap to grid” before recording or playing back. This will allow all the subtle timing (and mistakes) of your peerles bongo-ing to be realistically stored and reproduced. In piano roll view, it’s the little button with the grid on it, next to the Quantise Settings button.

Slightly delay and randomize beats 2 and 4 of 1,2,3,4 when playing 1/8th or 1/16th notes.

I used to delay outright every other note like this a few ticks in the range of 6 to 20, then randomize them just a few more.

Likewise, lower the velocity of the delayed notes enough to hear it.

The idea is to get it sounding like right and left hands.

This is what is done musically when drifting from a straigh beat to a shuffle, and in-between like rock-a-billy. It’s also what humans try very hard not to do when playing, but hate listening to when it’s gone.

As for accents the best thing to do it use a different sound for the accented note. Simple velocity and volume change isn’t enough.

Don’t discount splitting right and left hands into two tracks and treating them differently with EQ, and sample used.

Some of the sound and sample stuff is made a little more difficult when percussion is stuck on MIDI channel 10. It might be beneficial to use two melodic tracks with conga sounds and have one track pitch bent just enough that your ears don’t notice after the other tricks. The two tracks will need to be on different MIDI channels – this isn’t possible when using JUST channel 10.

These tricks were well for any percussion, especially hi-hat.