N-Drums Revisited

So close, and yet so far…

EDITED 6/19/06

On a recent business trip, I finally had time to more fully explore how the N-Track Drums VSTi works. I installed N on my laptop, and had the 9-hour flights to and from Anchorage, Alaska, plus a fair amount of hotel-room time to mess around with N-Drums. (Don’t worry, I also spent a day in Kenai Fjords National Park looking at whales and puffins and orcas…)

The good news is I’ve found there’s huge potential here: N-Track Drums is very flexible and pretty powerful. It is capable of generating very realistic-sounding, interesting drum tracks, and doing it very quickly, through a number of automated “fill-in” features. You can also route different drums to different channels in n-track (in a limited way), and run separate effects plug-ins on each one. In addition to the included pre-sets that come with N-track drums, I have successfully created and saved my own patterns from scratch (although there are issues with how this stuff gets saved, and the fact that some settings don’t get saved with your .sng file, so you have to reset things when you open the project again, but that’s for another post…).

The bad news is that I’m having real trouble when I try to use a MIDI track to control the way the patterns switch. That’s where I need your help!

I set up the N-Drums instrument, then add a MIDI track, outputting to CH. 16. Notes entered on the piano roll (I don’t have a keyboard controller) starting at C3 do trigger changes from one lettered pattern to the next.

So far, so good. :cool:

Bur here is where I start running into problems: :(

1) If I put the “note” into the MIDI file on the downbeat (“one”) of a measure, it doesn’t necessarily start the new pattern immediately.
For example, I have a two-bar count off that I like to use at the start of my tracks (rimshots, One…Two…One,Two,Three,Four"). THat’s pattern “A”. Then I have a note in the piano roll at Db3 to switch to pattern “B,” a one bar intro fill. But pattern “A” bleeds into the next measure, so that I end up with a rimshot on the “one” count of what should be the intro.

In other words, it repeats the first beat of the previous pattern, before picking up with the next one. The next beat is beat “two” of the intro, though, so it’s not ending up shifting the patterns off the intended beats. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve selected the “Live Mode” in the N-Drums prefs (which is supposed to finish one pattern before starting the next). <!–QuoteBegin>

UPDATE 6/19/06: Putting the midi note on the “four” of the measure immediately before you want the new pattern to start solves this problem!

2) When I program patterns that include more than one bar – in other words when I use more than one of the 8 numbered pages available within each of the lettered patterns – then it’s unpredictable where they will start when they’re next triggered in the piano roll. For example, I’ll make two 8-bar (8 “pages”) patterns, nicely constructed with fills at the end of the fourth and eighth pages to punctuate middle and end of a verse. Pattern “C” uses a hi-hat for the verses, and Pattern “D” uses the ride cymbal for the choruses.

All I want to do is switch back and forth between C and D every 8 bars, so the MIDI roll has a note on the “one” of measure 1, 9, 17, 25 etc. to alternate between them. I’d expect the patterns to start at page 1 each time they come around. But that’s not what I get. The first time, it might start at the beginning. But when it comes back around, it’s just as likely to start somewhere in the middle of the 8-bar/page pattern (page 3, or 7 or something random like that), so the fills show up in the wrong places. I’ve tried limiting myself to one-bar patterns, but then I run into the other problem I described above, with patterns “bleeding” over into each other’s downbeats.

Has anyone had more success with this than I have? I’d really like to make this work, and the plug-in has huge potential, but if I can’t make it behave, I’ll have to give up and go back to using LeafDrums, and I really don’t want to have to do that. :angry:

Help! :O

Thanks in advance,

Papa, is your “Follow” button red? This is on the Steps screen of N-drums … right before the page numbers. If it is, un-select it and see if that helps. My computer is down right now so I can’t try it to be sure, but I know that when I use a preset that is 4 pages, for example, when the next 8-page preset is triggered, it will start from page 5! Like I said I haven’t been able to tease this theory out yet, but I am suspecting that’s the problem … if you do find out what it is please post your results!!! I also think this N-drums is very useful and flexible, though it appears simple.

I’d be interested in anyone who’s experiencing the same problems, too, so I can rule out that this is unique to my hardware or software setup.

And I’m using the latest build of N-Track, v. 2099.


Papa, I have found that scenerio as mentioned above (preset rhythms starting from another page than page 1 after following a sub-8-page preset) again I think the follow button (or something simple) will fix that. I have not, however, had a one or two beat lag in the actual switching between presets as you experienced.

Oops, PETROS, looks like we posted simultaneously.

I have been keeping the “follow” button on – I think all it does is switch the steps pages so you can see what pattern is playing at any particular moment. I didn’t think it was making a difference with these problems, but I’ll have to double-check this tonight. You may be on to something! Of course, if you’re right, it makes it awful hard to monitor whether things are switching the way you want them to…


Anyone else?

Thanks for the reply!

OK PROBLEM # 1 is solved: even though I said I had tried putting the note on the fourth beat of the previous measure, I guess I hadn’t, really, since that did the trick.

PROBLEM #2 is still unsolved, although it does seem to be predictable: the plug in seems to be determined to follow page 4 of pattern A with page 5 of pattern B. It should be possible to work around this, but it’s a real pain. I’d really like to be able to make nice long 8-bar patterns, and mix them up with shorter variations. The easiest solution should be to make all of the patterns the same length. Hmmm.

More experimentation needed.

Thanks, PETROS, for your insights. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to matter whether I have the “follow” button lit or not. Any other thoughts?


OK I think I’ve got Problem #2 sorted out (if not really “solved”):

The root of the problem was that I was starting the track with two bars of count-off, then a single bar of drum fill. This set me up to be starting the main verse pattern on an odd-numbered measure. After that, nothing I could do would re-align the Page 1 rhythm with the start of a verse or chorus. It’s worth noting that what I was trying to do was add an N-Drums track to a song originally recorded with a .wav drums track generated by LeafDrums, and since it originally started with an odd number of measures in the intro, I was forced into replicating this in N_Drums. Fortunately, it was purely an experimental blues-jam track meant only for practice and experimentation. (It’s clearly serving its purpose!)

However, if I create a new song, and make the song start with four bars of count-off, then make each successive pattern four or eight bars, N-Drums appears to maintain the proper page alignment throughout. It will just require a little creativity to work around this limitation on future projects.

Thanks for your patience while I worked through these issues in this public forum. I’ll share any additional insights I stumble on as they come up.

In the meantime, I hope I’ll be able to share a fully realized song with N-Drums accompaniment sometime soon. I haven’t looked on the Music forum to see if anyone had posted a song with N-Drums yet. I’ll head over there now!


Yes, as you said you can work around problem #2 in that way. I just got an e-mail from Luigi (@Nusofting). He confirmed that DK+ has no feature to “always begin preset from page 1:
" so far DK+ syncs to bars which are multiple of the pattern lenght,”

He also said, however, that he may add that feature to one of the next upgrades! And his idea for resolving the problem was the same as you already mentioned (i.e. if you have a bunch of 8-page patterns and one 4-page pattern, just split the 8-pagers into 4-pagers … and the copy features make this fairly easy.)
BTW, When I asked about a more detailed manual, he said the only thing it has right now is the same as the one under the Menu bar on the DUI…