MIDI drums

creating a drum roll

Just a quick question.

Using a simple Yamaha keyboard with MIDI out mapped to channel 10 on the MS Wavetable…how do you create a snare drum roll (or any drum roll) ? Do you have to draw it on the piano roll or what?


It is a bit of a mission, and it can easily sound like a machine gun …

What yamaha keyboard is it ?

The one I used to have (PSR630) had a snare drum roll somewhere on the wrong (bottom) side of the lowest kick.
It would roll the snare for as long as you hold the key in.

It depends on your keyboard’s mapping tho’ (It must be XG not GM)
It worked quite well for me as I used to use the psr’s wavetable as my sound generator, so the roll and regular snare sounds sounded like the same kit.

The other option is to record the midi after you’ve set the speed of your midi waaay down. Then you ‘hammer’ the snare key as quickly as you can (using both fingers if you can) and speed it up to normal speed afterwards. But you can get into machinegun central very quickly - this never really worked for me.

The best option (apart from your keyboard having the sound) would prbably be to look for a wav sound of a roll on the net and then stick it into a soundfont player/wave trigger app and trigger it when you need a roll…

Sorry - this is one of them things were GM just doesn’t cut it …
As long as you use GM for this you’ll end up with either a compromise, or leaving the idea of a roll altogether …


thats kind of what i thought…
I can’t make my finger move that fast on the keyboard - which is a verrrrrrrry olllldddd keyboard. (soomething like a yamaha 5100 or something - 1987, one of the first MIDI capable).

Would using ns_kit free be of any help?

I also have a boss dr-550 drum machine…would it be worth it to try to get a drum roll from it?


It might be to check out if the drum machine has a roll…

About the fast moving finger, that’s why you set the midi timing down to something like 10 BPM and hit it as fast as you can go …

If it’s back at 60 or 110 it goes really fast. It works out better for cymbal rolls than drum rolls tho’.

Check out the drum machine - chances are that it will have better sounding drum anyway than what you are used to with GM.


If you can map the KEYBOARD for type of drum, you can use TWO Keys for the drum roll and as such use TWO fingers.

Dave T2

Thanx for the suggestions … I don’t know what the keyboard is capable of as far as changing BPM’s and /or remapping keys. I will have to give them a try…


The short answer is that you don’t really ever get a single hit of a snare to sound like a drum roll no matter how many MIDI events you have triggering it. The closest you’ll be able to get is the sound of an overly precise marching drum corp drummer, or a bunch of them. Buzz-rolls, which is what most folks want, need to be taken from samples of buzz-rolls. There is the possibility of simulating it a LITTLE if the synth allows the attack to the sound to be lengthened, removing much of the initial attack. I’ve tried this using the sound from MS GM Synth and it doesn’t work with that sound. It’s easier when starting with the sound of a light brush stroke/swish on the snare.


MIDI drum rolls is hard :(

I did a timpani (tympani ? ) one once and it took ages to get anything like a reasonable sounding roll.

I reasoned that you would need two separate sounds, mapped to different keys on the piano roll, as each event has not finished it’s decay before the other one starts.

This is where NS_Kit would come into its own because it has “left hand” and “right hand” snare hits.
Also, each hit is never at a constant velocity, so you need to adjust the velocities in a pseudo random manner. It helps also to do the same with the “expression” controller.

Finally (?) a drum roll almost always increases in volume and speed as it progresses.

If I were you, I would throw yourself on the mercy of a drummer to record one for you.


If you really need it as midi data (as opposed to a sample of a roll) then it might be easier to download some free midi files and find one with a drum roll like you want already programmed in and copy and paste that into your song.
Some of the free midi files have drum programming that I could never do myself no matter how long I spent on it…

Drum it on the the keys with both hands using your index finger…f****ing noobs man. :p

You can zoom in on the piano roll to 32nd or 64th notes and draw it in. You want to vary the velocity and usually build up volume. Do a little bit and copy and paste. Better if everything is not 100% quantized.

I found a drum roll in my Yamaha DD-55 by accident one day. It was down in the ‘-1’ octave along with some other undocumented sounds.
I’ve sinced used it in a couple of recordings.
Have a hunt around your keyboard - you may have a roll already :;):

I will try your suggestion, kenny, but it looks like the only way that will work with my set up is the ‘cut & paste’. What a pain…
I normally use VSC for my MIDI tracks but I also have ns_kit (free) and sfz which have been recommended here, but I’m not quite sure how to use ns_kit or if I even need to…
Actually I have never been real big on drum rolls anyway but some times ya gotta have 'em…


ns_kit – or one of the other free sample sets out there – has samples for “press hits” that can be strung together to make pretty decent rolls. Each sample has the initial attack along with the short succession of “bounces” on the snare that make a press roll, well, “roll.”

I’ll poke through my bookmarks and see if I can find which sample set it was…

Yep, it’s the ns_kit alright. The free WAV version that I downloaded has 15 or 16 samples each for right and left handed press hits – the files have names like "snr_prs_r33.wav"

If you DL the wav version, you can set up a kit in N-Track Drums that gives you access to the press hits, then it should be a pretty easy matter to program a nice roll. N-Drums has a good “Human Fill” function that can randomizes the velocities to make it a little more natural, and it’s easy enough to program in a crescendo or whatever you need.

Good luck!


Now THAT’s a very usefull little bit of info.

I have NSKit already downloaded in the ‘archives’ (read: Huge ‘just-pile-it-in-there-when-you-get-the-link’ directory on my HDD). I’ll go and scratch.

Thanks, Pete !


I have ns kit but i have never been able to do anything with it. when i unzip the file there is only a .dll file and a readme. no .exe or install file. how do i do anything with it? do i put the dll file someplace special? i put the dll file inthe ntrack VST folder but that was not a good idea…ive had the download for about 6 months…just dont know what to do with it.

also, i use ntrack ver. 3.3



I’m not sure what the dll you’ve got is for, but try this link: This should get you the collection of WAV files that makes up the “ns_free7” kit.


If you don’t use v 4.x then you don’t have the built-in N-Track Drums drum machine. But if you have SFZ or another way to use a soundfont, you can still download the .sf2 version and access it with MIDI:


Either way, you’ll have the press-roll samples. Check the enclosed .pdf for more info.

Here’s an excerpt:


What’s new in v7?
Version 7 of the ns_kit series represents a whole new level of quality, playability and realism.
• all new samples
• more velocity layers per instrument
• more cymbals
• a slightly more ambient sound results in a kit that simply sits better in a mix.
• A more “generic” sounding kit – suitable for most styles
Snare “buzz-roll” samples allows dynamic playing of snare rolls.

THere’s also a keyboard diagram for the Soundfont version that shows left and right buzz-roll samples mapped to a couple of adjacent keys way up at the treble end of the keyboard.

Rock and “roll,”


nskit is nice, and it has a snare roll on it. but it’s not totall GM, so you have to write your own midimap.

Or forget all that and buy NI Battery or Steinberg Hypersonic, they rock! :)

Thanks for the links PR

Gizmo…its just a hobby, I ‘m not goin’ anywhere with this stuff…just personal satisfaction, but thanx for the advice. I have heard that ‘Reason’ seems to be the rave of the day but that sort of stuff is waaaayyyyy out of my price range…the wife wants a new hottub, dock, pontoon boat, trip to Tennessee…

I’ll stop the list there…:smiley: