N-Track Drum Forum.....

Like WOXNERW suggested, an N-Track Drum forum may be my personal ticket out of ignorance.

Here’s what I’ve got so far. Please feel free to add… .

If you have wondered how to get N-Track Drums to work for you, here is a step by step guide. It is incomplete as is my understanding, but it represents the extent of my knowledge of the program. I’m writing this because no one has yet taken me up on my $100 offer to “explain” n-track drums to me, so I’m left to assume that we may all be struggling. Hopefully we can piece everything together, and all be able to record better music as a result.

From the top.

To Load N-Track Drums
Step 1. Start w/ a “new” song - w/ no tracks recorded, click view (on the main toolbar) -> mixer -> master mixer

Step 2. Right click on the empty space on the master mixer board & select the following options (don’t mess w/ anything else that is already selected… eg: Show Aux):
a. show audio
b. show midi
c. show instruments

Step 3. Click “Add Channel” on the main toolbar ->add new inst channel -> n-Track -> n-track drums.

At this point, n-track drums should open, and you should see the N-Track fader labeled in the master mixer under the heading “[Synth]” (among 4 others labeled [Synth -2], [Synth -3], and [Synth -4]"). I have absolutely NO idea what Synth 2-4 do…, but I don’t understand most things about this program, anyway, but I’m learning…

FYI, you should ALWAYS re-open n-track drums from the master mixer board (by clicking on the N-track fader). This is important, because repeating steps 1-3 again to open n-Track drums literally “adds” another drummer to your band (this has been a big problem for me in the past, and the source much frustration). The worst part is that you’d never know this is the case looking at “master mixer” unless you’ve selected “Show Midi”, etc. If I could make a modification here I would. I think that “everything” should show up in the master mixer as a default, and you should be given the option to remove things – not the other way around.

At this point, you should be looking at the N-track drums program, which seems to have so much potential, but has yet to deliver squat for me personally.

Step 4. Click Menu -> Styles -> By Rhythm -> House -> Electronics Boss DR220 (the drum program will load the settings for this particular drum kit). Keep in mind there are a lot of kits available in the basic package (sorted by rhythm or kit), so this is just a simple “way” to get started.

Step 5. Set your “BPM” (beats per minute) in the studio tool bar. The default setting is “120” and lets leave it here. Just keep in mind that you can adjust the BPM to the speed you’d like - depending on your song’s needs.

Step 6. Set the “meter.” The default is 4/4 time, and quite frankly, I can’t tell the difference in the kit when I switch it to 2/4, or 3/4. But I don’t really understand “time” to begin w/ so don’t blame me if there is a difference, and I can’t hear it.

7. Ensure that “Live” Output (the button in the middle of the studio toolbar) is OFF. The Live Output button is bright green when it is turned ON.

8. Push the play button in the studio toolbar.

At this point, you should hear drums! If you do not hear anything, make sure you’ve got your speakers on. If that doesn’t work, Click “Steps” on the N-Track drums tool bar. After doing that, look down in the bottom left hand corner. You’ll see an “On/Off” button. If the button is red, the drummer is wailing away. If it is white, the drummer is sleeping. Make sure the button is red.

From here, N-track drums will operate as really cool metronome. You can adjust the BPM, and meter using the studio tool bar (see steps 5 & 6). You have to stop the drums to make an adjustment to the BPM, and Meter.

Patterns
It’s also worth mentioning that each kit has many different drumming patterns preloaded into it. So what you’re hearing at this point from the drums is not the extent of what this drum kit can play in this particular style. After all, it would be pretty boring if your song played even the most complex pattern non-stop for 4 minutes.

To hear a different pattern (w/ the same kit, in the same style), click “Steps” in the N-track drums toolbar. Click “Follow” (it’ll turn red when it’s on). Clicking “Follow” allows the drums to proceed through all the bars in the selected pattern.

Patterns A and B are long versions (2, 4, or 8 bars long). The pattern you’re hearing at this point is 4 bars long, and would sound perfect over a classic 12 bar blues chord progression. Knowing that Patterns A and B are the same length is helpful because you can use Pattern A for one verse in your song, and use Pattern B for another one. For that matter, you could use Pattern A for the first verse, and Pattern B for the chorus, etc.
Patterns C and D are like patterns A and B, but are only 1 bar long. This is good if you like to write the last verse w/ an extra measure.
Pattern G is an “Opening” to begin the song.
Pattern H is an “Ending” to end your song.
Patterns E and F are fills to get between different patterns.
Obviously many of the other letters have nothing saved in the banks. These open spots allow you to make your own patterns and plug them into a song.

The drum pattern you’re hearing is pattern “A.” To change the pattern to something else, find the “letters” in the upper right area of the program under the label “Pattern”, and click the letter “B”. You should be hearing something much different, but w/ the same BPM, and time signature. Commenting on pattern B, I must say that I really like the high hat in pattern B, but (like most things in here… it’s a little too busy for me), but all is not lost. YOUUUU can edit these patterns, and adjust it to your tastes.

Editing Drum Patterns
If you agree w/ me on the High Hat busyness of pattern B, you can edit the pattern in real time using the following steps.
1. With the drums playing, Click “Steps” on the drum tool bar
2. Find the “High Hat” Column. Look down the left-hand side, and you’ll see“3-HH Closed”. To the right, you’ll see a bunch of numbers…. I see a lot of “40’s” adjacent to HH Closed. These are the triggers to hit the high hat. I’m going to eliminate half of them, and see what happens… try it w/ me. (Well, it’s still busy, but it’s better than it was IMO). If you like it, you can save the settings by clicking Menu (on the drum toolbar) -> Banks -> Save. If you don’t like your changes and want to revert to the original settings, just “reset” them by doing the following: Click Menu (on the drums toolbar) -> Reset -> Midi Controllers. Hopefully by this point, you’ll see that N-Track drums is really flexible, and has LOADS of potential.

BTW, the neat thing about editing drum patterns is doing so is the first step in making your own drum patterns, and there’s no risk. If you mess up, just reset the kit per instructions.

Miscellaneous
You control the volume of the drum kit in the mix by moving the drum slider [Synth] on the master mixer.

Well Let’s Record Something….
Hmmmm…… (Insert long diplomatic pause here……)

Well, this is the real problem for me. On recording, the DK+ N-Track Drums Manuel says, “That the above (pattern) structure (eg: pattern A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, etc.) will let you build a song recording a track of MIDI note message, one note per pattern, and then switch style while keeping the song structure as you arranged it in your VST sequencer.” Believe it or not, that’s all it says.

Of course I have no idea what any of that means, and the person that was in charge of writing that manual is an idiot if he thinks he’s talking to the masses with that statement…… In fact, that quote is a classic example of why I think this whole manual was written by a bunch of nerds that used get the crap beat out of them every day in high school… lol What do they say about revenge being a dish best served cold?

Anyway, the sad fact of the matter is that I have no idea “HOW” to proceed from this point, and record anything w/ the drums. I’m 100% positive that the next step has something to do w/ the quote from the DK+ manual I referenced above, but I’ve got no idea what any of it means. If you hit “record” nothing will happen on the play back…… It’ll play drums while you’re recording, but they’re not really there – it’s just doing the metronome thing, and you’ll see it immediately when you recognize that the “timing” isn’t right on the playback like it was when you were recording it… because your not listening to the recorded drums, your listening to a current metronome playing over your recorded track.

I do know that your supposed to tell the sequencer to play the drum patterns in an order you specify, (eg: play the following patterns in the following order - G, A, A, F, B, A, E, B, H), but I don’t know how to “tell” it to do that. This is what I desperately want someone to tell me.

So, what to do from here? I’m hoping someone will add the next steps for me.

Assuming that someone can tell us all how to record w/ the drums, I decided to add what to do after that… optimistic till the bitter end.

To record an entire song, try this method, and keep in mind that this is just a template. I’m sure there are legitimate reasons to rearrange the order, but keep in mind that the drums have to go down first in N-track (or at least that’s what I’ve read – as I’ve never gotten that far personally).
1. Lay down your scratch track w/ the basic drum pattern in the background (eg: n-track drums pattern A, guitar, and vocals). I’ve got a mixer, so I can record vocals and guitar on the same track. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to do each one separately. The cost of the 4-channel mixer will pay for itself in time saved recording scratch tracks in a few days if you spend any time at this, btw.
2. Then go back and “edit” the drums so that pattern G (the intro) is at the front, pattern H (the ending) is at the end, and Pattern A and B rotate through the middle w/ various fills from E and F separating the changes.
3. Add the bass line
4. Re-record the guitar from the initial scratch track
5. Re-record the vocals from the initial scratch track
6. Add back up vocals
7. Add lead guitar
8. Add effects (compression, and EQ, etc.)
9. Master
10. Mixdown, and ask for feedback.

Hi Iplan:
I believe what you may be referring to in your topic is what other forums calls…a “Sticky”…

If we could persuade the Board Managers and or Flavio to provide in “Other Topics” an area and call IT “n-Track Drums” or whatever… This could be a place where topics related to constructing Drum Tracks could Show Off their knowledge and provide others with their Ability-and-Want to show other n-Trackers what can be done with editing Drum Tracks…

Bill…

I don’t mean to derail your thread…

I haven’t tried NTDrums, but I do have Reason on my setup. Its been there since Christmas and never used…if you think NTDrums is tough, try this one…can’t figure it out either. I can make a bunch of sounds and great beats but can’t get them onto a MIDI track which is the only way they would be useful. And, just like the NTDrums, I’m sure all it would take is a simple explanation. But, some forums aren’t as noob friendly as this one so I don’t even bother anymore. Maybe all of thesae “drum” programs are just plain difficult to learn. I don’t know. I think its a conspiracy by drummers everywhere to corner the market… ???

mumble, mumble…

Incidently, it sounds like you already know more about NTDrums than most…

cliff
:cool:

If we could interest guys like Tom Hicks, Don Gaynor and a number of the MIDI guys that are presently around the n-Track Board to to Spill just a thumbprint of their knowledge to an n-Track Topic committed to creating drum tracks it would set a number of us who are on the edge of creating drum tracks up-and-running… But… Somehow I have a feeling that they don’t use the n-Track Drum Utility… It seems that the MIDI guys are off in rooms by themselves, with their MIDI editors… It goes without saying, they spent long hours developing their skills… It’s tough to ask them to spend hours and hours of their time bringing others up to their knowledge base…

There seems to be a few of us including me that create drum tracks with a Keyboard/Synthesizer… then, record-and-edit the tracks by analogue means…

I am supposing here… But I think the "REAL drum tracks are recorded by real drummers and somewhere, along the process the drum hits created by the real drummer are replaced by samples of voices of drums to fit the song… That way you don’t have to have a million dollar set-up/studio/mics and all to create real drum tracks…

You know… you can’t just make drum tracks without first having real drums and a real drummer… Well… :O ??? That’s just my opinion… Try to convince a real drummer anything different than that…

We all know… a DEMO has meager beginnings… till the producer screws IT all up… :O :laugh:

Bill…

Iplan,
You need to use the piano roll to command N-drums which pattern to execute. You must change the note names in the left-hand column (right-click in the column I think), select “Note Names.” A note on C1 will trigger pattern A, a note on C#1/Db1 will trigger pattern B, D1 triggers pat. C, etc. One quick problem you will get into is that if one of your patterns is less than the full eight pages, such as a four measure intro., when it changes to the next pattern it will begin playing the next pattern with measure five! I always use full eight measure patterns; it doesn’t take a lot more work, and it is worth it in the end to keep things very simple as you go along. Using MIDI notes on the piano roll, you can command the patterns in any order you wish. I, however, order my songs to use the patterns A,B,C,D,E,F,G etc. to keep things simple.
I’m not sure where you are in your learning this thing, but it is a great feature and I use it on every song! I don’t have to do mush to get the sound of the drums to mix with the rest of the instruments once I’ve tweaked them in the beginning to the sound I want; no compression issues, or anything, I just slide the faders!
Hope this helps.

Thank you PETROS:
More replies like this will only help…

Is it necessary to convert the MIDI tracks on the timeline to .wav files?

Bill…

Petros may have just revealed the Rosetta stone for recording N-Track Drums!

Added Steps - a step by step break down of my understanding of Petros’ “Rosetta Stone” post – please feel free to make corrections (as I’m not sure this is right – especially steps 8 & 9):

To program N-Track drums to play in your recording take the following steps.

1. On the Studio toolbar click “Add Channel” -> add blank channel -> midi (Once you select “midi”, The midi properties window will open).

2. Select “Channel” in the midi properties window, and select 16 (not 10). Change the Output Option from “Microsoft MIDI Mapper” to “Instrument Plug In - n-Track Drums”

3. Close the MIDI properties box – click “Close”. You should see a white grid in your studio at this time. This is the “midi” grid.

4. Right click on the far column in the midi piano roll – (the gray area).

5. Click “Note Name Sets” in the window that opens.

6. The default for Note Name Sets is “General Midi Drums”, but you need to change it to “Note Names.”

7. To make this change, Scroll UP to “Note Names”, and click “okay.”

8. On the MIDI piano roll toolbar, find the word “Grid”, and change its setting from “beat” to “measure.”

9. Now find “Note Link” and change it to “Measure” as well.

10. At this point, you need to start the step sequencer. Click on the musical note that appears on the MIDI toolbar. Then scroll down the piano roll, until you see C3. Click into the left most grid box beside C3. A blue box will light up in the grid. If you accidentally put the blue box in the wrong place, you can erase it by clicking the red “X” in the MIDI toolbar, and then dragging a box around the “offending” blue mark (s).

11. From this point, you assign your blue boxes.

12. To assign the boxes all you have to do is remember
this: The notes from C1 to B2 in the MIDI column select the 24 patterns in the n-Track drum bank starting from pattern A. Egro, Pattern A is queued by clicking in the grid C1, Pattern B is Db1, Pattern C is D1, etc.

For the purpose of clarification, a summary of the assignments that appear on the basic N-Track drums installment follow:
Standard Rhythm (2,4, or 8 bars) = Pattern A = C1 on the MIDI Grid
Variation Rhythm (2,4, or 8 bars) = Pattern B = Db1 on the MIDI Grid
Standard Rhythm (1 bar) = Pattern C = D1 on the MIDI Grid
Variation Rhythm (1 bar) = Pattern D = Eb1 on the MIDI Grid
Standard Drum Fill (1 bar) = Pattern E = E1 on the MIDI Grid
Variation Drum Fill (1 bar) = Pattern F = F1 on the MIDI Grid
Song Introduction (1 bar) = Pattern G = Gb1 on the MIDI Grid
Song Ending (1 bar) = Pattern H = G1 on the MIDI Grid

Keep in mind that the MIDI piano roll operates just like musical notation in that the grid is organized chronologically from left to right. Also, C1 – B2 are located near the very bottom of the column, so you’ll have to scroll down to find them.

Let’s try a simple drum progression to see if we’ve got it right. (Here is the song we’ll create: Intro, Pattern A, Pattern B, Ending).

1. Assign C3 in the leftmost grid to begin

2. Add the Introduction by selecting Gb1 in the next box (you’ll know you’ve selected it when the box turns blue).

3. Add Pattern A by selecting C1 in the box after the one you put Gb1into.

4. Add Pattern B by selecting Db1.

5. Add the ending by selecting G1.

6. Now close the loop by selecting C#3 to stop the sequencer.

Okay, if everything is working, you should be able to push play, and hear the drums roll through the progressions automatically.

Forty second pause…

Well, I’ve got problems. Somehow my MIDI grid reset itself to “General Midi Drums” in the properties window. All I heard was 5 drum beats, w/ n-Track drums running continuously over pattern A in the background. To reassign midi, right click in the gray area of the Midi Window, Click “Note Name Sets” and change it from “General MIDI drums” to “Note Names” by scrolling UP.

Make sure you “rewind” to the beginning – so your time clock is on “0:00:00,” and that your n-Track drums window is up, turned on, and loaded to House, DR220. Okay, lets see what happens.

Another 40 seconds later……

Alright. It wasn’t the song I designed. It didn’t play the introduction (pattern G), or the end of the song (pattern H), but it did “switch” from pattern A to pattern B (at the 10 second mark on the time clock), and stay there… in fact, it is still playing.

The drum program obviously did not pick up the following commands:
1. Intro (Gb1)
2. Ending (G1)
3. And it missed the C#3 command to “shut up.”

Finally, it makes no difference whether the “follow” light on n-Track drums is on or not – you get the same result.

Well, I consider this to be a step in the right direction (at least it did shift from pattern A to pattern B automatically).

At this point, my understanding of the program is certainly not functional by any means, but it’s progress toward the end goal.

I suspect the problem lies in steps 8 and 9 (selecting “measure” in the grid and note length), or the placement of the blue boxes in the grid, but I’m hoping someone can clarify what’s going wrong.

wox, no you don’t have to convert the MIDI to a wave file to get it to trigger the patterns, some guys will prefer to utilize the MIDI each time play record (that gives you the freedom to edit changes in the pattern sequence or a specific pattern as your song develops); since my songs are already arranged I much prefer to lay down the basic patterns and sequence, then mix it down to a wave file to use as a click track, I like that a lot!!! (It’s real easy to add a rimshot counting beat for those quiet sections to use like a metronome, then in the end, after I tweak te drums now that the other instruments are down, I delete the rimshots and re-mix it down to single (or multiple) drum .wav files (multiple by utilizing the group-outs of the N-drums (which show up as synths 2, 3 and 4 on your mixer window))
Make sure you can see the “note names” on the left-hand side of the piano-roll and that you’re on the right channel (10 or 16, I can’t remember … I think 16).

Iplan,
Some additional responses to your first post:
As I mentioned to Wox., Synth 2-4 you mentioned are the separate faders for three group-outs from N-drums and synth 1 is N-drums master fader. I can’t remember what you call it, but there are buttons near each drum (in the various views of them: double clicking on the drum in the program’s “STEPS” view will allow you to see it, you can also see it in the drum kit view) You can select 1,2,3 or 4 … I think : ) I’m not at an N-computer! (This is not the same as the panning function.)
Also, I think the “Follow” button simply allows the user to VIEW all the bars as the program plays through them; it’ll keep playing all the bars and change patterns and everything else, but you won’t be able to follow it with your eyes (BTW, if you go to edit one of the patterns as your listening through it, it will automatically pop-off of “follow,” and keep playing while you edit.
Peter

Iplan,
You must place the notes in the MIDI sequencer in just the right spot timing-wise to which you alluded. If you are asking it to play a one-measure intro. then your second MIDI note will be placed one measure from the first. Like I said before, I always 8-measure patterns and use MIDI notes that are 8 measures long, and I always put them in alphebetical order (to help keep things simple for my simple mind) but this will only work with original patterns that you create for a single song; it takes some work, but it is well worth it for the kind of stuff I’m doing and the way I do it. Actually, if you use the “copy pattern” function it doesn’t take much time, but then, I like to mix up the velocities on everything to give a more natural sound and I like the results).
Also, if you’re not hearing what you thought you should, it could be that N-drums will jump to the same spot in the next pattern that it left in the previous pattern. In other words, if you program it to trigger a one measure intro. pattern and then trigger it to play pattern B, it will start playing pattern B, from the SECOND MEASURE. Unless all of your songs are composed of sections divisible by eight measures, you are going to run into problems. I talked to the programmer at DK and he said that he may include the ability to turn that feature on/off in a future release. Again, I always use original patterns and simply program straight from A through whatever always using all 8 measures in each pattern, and ALL of my songs have sections less than eight measures.
Selecting a note like C3, which doesn’t have a corresponding pattern is just like placing no note there. N-drums will not see it if it is not between C1 and B2 (as you pointed out earlier). If you want a space of quiet, you have to create a blank space in your pattern, or create a new pattern which is blank (to do this, simply select the letter you would like to use and click on the (I don’t know what they are called …) little grey buttons next to the “follow” I think. There is a whole line of them extending over the entire “steps” box; there’s one for each “step” in time. They are grey when not in use and red when in use. You must tell the program you want to hear what’s in those boxes below by clicking on the last step’s button that you want to hear of that pattern. In other words: If you only want to hear one measure you would click on the last little grey button in the line on the first page of the pattern, and if you want to hear all eight measures, you would click on page 8 and then click on the last little grey button on that page. Once you have selected on of those buttons (which you can change anytime you want (i.e. more or less of a pattern)) then that new lettered pattern will show up as a solid letter in your pattern letter box (as opposed to kind of faded), it is ready to use. If you leave all the step boxes blank, but select one of the little grey buttons (they turn red remember) then you will have a quiet pattern that, when triggered, will give you silence from N-drum until another pattern is triggered.