MIDI keyboard

How to use it for drum tracks

Hello everyone…I’m about to take the plunge and buy n-track. I have done very little experimentation with recording so far in one of those stand alone deals (Zoom 1044), but I want to experiment with a PC based system. I really don’t understand much about MIDI except that it’s based on a set of instructions to various electronic instruments. One of the things that I would eventually like to do is compose drum tracks in n-track by using a MIDI keyboard to trigger actual drum samples so that I end up with a fairly realistic drum track. Is that possible? Thanks for your help.

By the way I really like the vibe of this group…especially the respect shown to newbies…that’s the main reason I’m going with n-track and not one of the other packages.

Hi, you are correct in thinking you can trigger drum samples via a midi input device. It’s very easy to do and it’s a common approach. Some people directly input notes into a “pianoroll” to do this job but you can do it live via a midi controller.

A midi input controller for this job can be a midi keyboard/synth with it’s own sounds and midi out capability,
or, it can be a dedicated keyboard controller that does not make it’s own sounds but can trigger midi events.
You can even get a midi controller which is a bunch of drums you physically hit.

Bottom line is, samples may be triggered by note on events.
You can use any midi enabled controller to do this job.

N-track is a perfect host to allow you to experiment with
triggering samples using a midi input device/controller.


Thanks, Stormboy. Now, being the cheapskate that I am (and I say that with pride) what is cheapie keyboard (new) that will do the job? I’ve seen things like this Edirol model for under $200:


Will this type do the job, keeping in mind that it will be my first one, and this is a hobby for me, not a profession? Thanks again.

Well as a hoobiest myself ( I just refuse to go pro and suck all the fun out of it!..tee hee) I would suggest an Ensoniq if you can get one. Used ones generally go for under $100.00 but with anything used buyer beware, alot of the older models had disk reading problems, so general rule of thumb…the later the model the better, or is it newer the model? I dunno getting cars mixed up in recording!
Anyway they were ahead of their times at least in the 80’s. with Hard disk ports for saving and importing files, wav. ect., of course all the standard Midi stuff that hasn’t changed much since then.
If new is what you desire I would suggest
Musicians freind
A great Place IMHO to explore the posibilites of both PC and Digital 8 track recording.

keep shinin’ and all the best of luck regardless of what you end up goin’ with PC/ Tascam 8 track digital… or both LOL!

jerm :cool:

I just bought an M-Audio Keystation49 USB keyboard for $99 and it’s an excellent midi keyboard.

Plugged it in and XP recognized it immediately with no extra drivers installed. Works great with my sampler VSTi’s.

Jeremy, an Ensonic WHAT?

I use an Ensonic MR76, a great 76-note fully weighted synth. It generally runs in the $400 range on ebay. There are a couple tricks to know about using it with n-Track, but I do it all the time and it works great for me (plus I’ll be happy to clue anyone in). Plus it has excellent drum sounds built-in.

First, be sure it’s a velocity-sensitive keyboard.

Second, I highly recommend a weighted or semi-weighted keyboard. You can control the dynamics much better that way, which is why most keyboard players demand a weighted keyboard. The other reason we do is that many of us are piano players and we want it to feel more like a piano. That reason doesn’t apply to you, though.

You’ll develop much better keyboard technique using a weighted keyboard. And for drum parts, I believe they’d be easy to do pretty much right away – though you’d get better with dynamics over time.

I use the MR’s keyboard to tap in drum parts. I usually tap in bass and snare or bass, snare and hihat on one run. I also use the MR’s built-in drum kits, which I think are excellent. Best of all, they don’t use a “GM” (General MIDI) drum keyboard map. The GM map has only one key for snare, but there should be at least two so that every snare hit doesn’t sound the same. To hear some examples, follow my link below and go to collabs, and check out the collabs where I played drums. (Mostly jazz brush kit, though. There are other folks who can do standard drums much better than I can.) There are one or two tunes on my CD as well, which you can listen to or download.

The other way that works well in n-Track is to download sfz (google to find it, it’s easy), which is a soundfont player. Then post another link asking for good drum kit soundfonts – I’m sure there are plenty of folks here with good suggestions. Be sure to tell us what kind of kits or genres of music because there’s a wide range. “SFZ” just acts like a general plugin software synth that plays “soundfonts”, which are just sets of sampled sounds mapped to the keyboard.

To find a weighted or semi-weighted keyboard in a low price range, you’ll probably need to get something used. Most weighted keyboards are full 88-key boards, unfortunately.