Electronic drum kits and linux....

I’ve asked this question on Rosegarden and MusE mailing lists and the Gentoo forums, with no real answers so far.

Basically, I’m interested in setting myself up with an electronic drum-kit, something along the lines of a Roland TD-12. Now, I don’t have much experience with MIDI, in fact, I have close to nil experience with MIDI. So, my questions…

Is it possible and if so, which software can I use, to transfer samples from my computer, directly to the module, or “brain” of the drum-kit, so that I can play it standalone with downloaded or purchased samples?

Also, if I wanted, is it possible to use the module/kit, solely as a MIDI control device, to send MIDI control signals from the “brain” to my computer, interfacing the drumkit to a piece of software, which will play/record specific samples, depending on which trigger has been activated on the drumkit?

I hope my questions are clear enough, if not, just shout and I’ll try and clarify a little.

I’ve heard of various different softwares but have no real clue as to which I would need, what is actually possible and which of them will work the best.

I’ve heard of Linux Sampler, FluidSynth, Rosegarden and MusE. Does anyone here use an electronic drumkit, or will I be doomed to record the kit via audio input? =D


Hydrogen will suit you for your second request (using your midi drums as a controller). This nice piece of software is only about drums and percussions and can be midi controlled.

see more at http://www.hydrogen-music.org/

Marc-Olivier Barre
Kinoko en Orbite

I had a quick look on Roland’s website. It seems the unit you mention will do almost everything you want.

It does not have digital audio outs so you’ll have to record the unit’s own samples through a soundcard. It will control Hydrogen or LinuxSampler via MIDI.

I didn’t see if there was support for MIDI sysex sample dump, but as long as you can control a software sampler from it, support for such a function may not be that critical.

Thanks for the quick response guys…

I already had a brief glance at hydrogen but had no idea it could be controlled from something like electronic drums - so that’s excellent. Would it be a simple process to “map” the signals from the brain, to the relevant samples in hydrogen? Would it play them all correctly? For example, would it be able to differentiate between open and closed hi-hats if I have my foot on the hi-hat pedal?

Oh and I’d still like to find a way of transferring samples from the computer to the module, so that I can use the kit away from my computer, be it live, or just to play standalone.

Thanks again…

I had a second look, at the user manual this time. The unit you specified has no sample loading features. It uses Roland’s COSM, the premise of which is to be able to model virtually anything. I guess from a marketing point of view allowing you to use other samples would be like admitting COSM’s limitation. Shop around, maybe other units have that feature.

Drum samples (in either Hydrogen, LinuxSampler or whatever) are controled by MIDI note events. That’s how the synth can tell which sound to play when you hit a trigger pad. I assume out of the box Hydrogen and the Roland unit will be mapped to General MIDI. But it is certainly configurable (to what extent, I don’t know). You’ll have to read the documentation and experiment. It’s pretty easy stuff, easier than to set-up Gentoo, that’s for sure hahaha…

“It’s pretty easy stuff, easier than to set-up Gentoo, that’s for sure hahaha…”

Excellent - then it shouldn’t be a problem. Now I just need to find something comparable to the TD-20 module without having to sell my soul. :wink:

…because I ordered Millenium MD70 digital drumset, which may be more a toy than a serious equipment. But if it works, it’s fine.


Check out my songs at http://www.emvg.net/esa

I just did a bit more searching around and it looks the module has sysex support. I’m not entirely sure what sysex is, so I need to do some reading. But I know it’s capable and I also believe you can upload new samples to the module.

Does this mean it’s possible to upload new samples to the module via linux?

SysEx: system exclusive MIDI messages. These are MIDI codes assigned to a device by a manufacturer to enable special functions. Almost every MIDI device supports it. SysEx could in this case enable support for editing/backup software, etc.

I’m still not convinced that the TD-12 will accept new audio samples, but it is probably able to allow a software editor to mangle/upload/download different COSM modeled kits. Essentially edits of the sounds that are already inside. On the Roland site there is a .pdf of the user manual. Read the MIDI implementation chart. See what you can glean from it.

A quick e-mail to Roland would provide the final answer to the sample upload question.

Finding editor software for linux, that’ll be the tricky part. But any sequencer should be able to receive/send SysEx for backup purposes.

Oh, it’s just that I saw a website, which specializes in samples for the v-drum series of kits. They have new sampled kits (specifically for the td-12) that you can buy from the website. I just can’t find the website again… I’ll email Roland now.

I found the website I was talking about…

Tell me what you think…

Oh wow… found this on their site!

Q: Are your expansions samples? A: The Roland TD modules are not capable of loading or utilizing third party samples. Our expansions are the product of hours, days, weeks, months and even years of experienced programmer's modeling with Roland's COSM modeling technology.

So none of the TD modules allow you to use third party samples?! That’s a shock. =(

Just have been playing with before mentioned digital drumset through MIDI & LinuxSampler and free NSKit7, and what can I say? I am not a drummer, so I am more than happy with this combination. It is not like real drums but with this price, this is just great. With MD70, you can assign pads from the drumset so if midi mapping is not familiar this is the option.

And yes, you can use Hydrogen drum kits, .gig files in LinuxSampler, SoundFonts in Fluidsynth…everything. But playing with click is pain for me :frowning:

Check out my songs at http://www.emvg.net/esa

The Drumkit From Hell sounds great and works with Ubuntu and Jack, though it is somewhat unstable. Here are my notes if you’re interested:

For realistic sounding drumming I use the free version of the NSKit7 with hydrogen. If you browse the hydrogen forum, you will find it together with a hydrogen file so it can be used like a normal hydrogen drumkit. I like it because each drum element has a broad velocity, unlike other hydrogen drumkit, which makes it sound very realistic. The drawback is that when you load this drumkit through hydrogen, you eat up a lot of memory (28% of my 4G ram according to top). If your system is low on RAM, forget it :wink:

Yeah, I’m aware of the NSKit samples, but my original post was more about the possibility of hooking up a real electronic drumkit to my computer. Being a drummer, I’d much rather drum this way, than use a mouse or keyboard to create drum beats.

As it happens, since my OP, my circumstances changed and I moved abroad to work for a year and now I’ve returned, I need an electronic kit more than ever. I’m gonna have to save some pennies more than ever now. :frowning:

Thanks for the replies by the way.

I used a set of VDrums triggering the nskit on a song that I did a few years ago…

If you are curious of the results, you can listen here: www.octechguy.com/mp3/SaveMeSCC.mp3

I wasn’t partial to the stock snare of NS, so that was changed to a different sample that I had, other than that, they are all ns samples.


Very cool… I’m downloading the track now. Was this done using linux? Which software did you use to trigger the samples successfully in linux? I know this is all very possible and easy to do on windows (from what I’ve read), so if you’ve pulled it off well with linux, then awesome!

I’m also back in the game for a v-drum kit (moneys for the win)!

this track was done with Cubase (Windows XP)…I used battery for the drum machine, triggered by the v-drums. However, I believe it would be possible in linux with no problems, as long as the vst’s that I’m thinking of work…I haven’t tried it, but KTDrumTrigger looks promising for this (http://www.audiocourses.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=339). a simple google search says that battery vst also works under wine, but I haven’t tried either of these (I made the switch to Linux about 6 months ago, and haven’t really done much recording other than podcasts since then).

I also have a licensed copy of virtual Guitarist which was used for the distorted guitar, but I don’t think it will work in Linux, becasue it requires a usb plug to make it work, and that requires drivers…that’s the one VSTi that I’m gonna miss!



I started using Addictive Drums (made by XLN Audio) with dssi-vst. It is excellent!
Unfortunately, it is not really free … but the demo version is free and fully functional. It just does not have all the kit elements, only kick, snare, hihat, crash cymbal (no toms, no ride, no cowbell, etc). AD is totally controllable through MIDI, and the dssi host creates jack outputs for all elements, overhead track, room track and bus track. The editing capability inside AD is really nice, there are also tons of MIDI presets for all kinds of drum loops, you can import them in a MIDI sequencer (Muse, Rosegarden, etc, I use Rosegarden because you can ramp up/down the BPM easily) to edit them further, etc.

I use it as an external VSTi with dssi-vst, attach it to a rosegarden track and play the whole shebang along with ardour via jack transport. It has not crashed on me, it works flawlessly. I actually borrowed money to buy it and I don’t regret at all. It’s a bit of a “betrayal” to the open-source spirit of my studio but I really needed something pro. Hydrogen is a cool app but it is plagued by many limitations that I don’t have time to work on.

Anyway, I saw videos of ppl playing on their e-drums probably spitting out MIDI to the PC into AD. You can always have a look if you’re curious, at www.xlnaudio.com
They have a forum where I started posting my experience with the soft.

thorgal, I really do have to say thankyou!

I downloaded the demo of Addictive Drums. Ran wine on the installer, ran the dll inside vsthost and voila! It worked off the bat with my drums, though it wasn’t mapped all that well. My hi-hat wasn’t mapped to the hi-hat. I wonder if it’s possible to re-map AD to match my drum signals.

It sounds pretty good, though a bit weird with fast consecutive hits (like rolls on the snare). It definitely runs very, very nicely though. One thing I haven’t figured out yet, is how to route each instrument in AD to a seperate track in ardour (snare on one track, bass drum on another, etc) - but I’ve only played with it briefly. I’ve gotten a short midi recording down with Rosegarden and can play it back via AD.

Thanks thorgal… I need this information more than ever now. I have the drums sitting right next to my PC and I’m still not at a point where I can record via midi with them into the computer. Like you said, hyrdogen has its limitations and there’s also the issue of not having any good, realistic drum samples that are available linux software. Fortunately the rights to natural studio’s ns_kit7 has been purchased by another company and they started shipping the samples again (all wav files, unlocked, etc) - so it may be possible to create a new kit for hydrogen using these samples, if I buy them.

Toontrack’s Superior 2.0 sounds amazing - I would love for that to have linux support. Sigh - mac and windows users nearly have it all.