How can I edit a MIDI drum track?

So, I’ve got Ardour 6 - nice work, devs!

And I would like to be able to edit a MIDI drum/percussion track created with, e.g., the Fabla plugin. I’ve been looking for an editing grid similar to the piano roll, but where the rows represent different drum sounds rather than keyboard notes. But apparently that does not exist. If that’s the case, is there a straightforward way to edit the drumbeats through the UI?

Thanks for all tips!

Drums are commonly edited with the piano roll, as they are just instruments with a MIDI input. There is no standardized percussion-dedicated midi editing representation.


There is a percussive mode wich displays tiny squares instead of notes. You can choose this in the context menu of the pianiroll.

By “context menu of the pianoroll,” do you mean the menu displayed by right-clicking on the left-hand panel of the track - i.e. to the left of the virtual keyboard? I see that there is a “Note Mode” parameter, with options of Sustained or Percussive. But if I set that to Percussive, it does not affect the piano roll display. Does it depend on the settings of External MIDI Device and/or External Device Mode? I have those set to Generic and General MIDI, respectively. Since my controller is not specifically supported, I wouldn’t know how else to set them.

OK, that’s pretty much what I thought. The difficulty for me as a newcomer is that it is far from obvious which notes in the piano roll correspond to the drum sounds. With some experimentation, I have found that the rows corresponding to C2 and successive notes on the keyboard are the Fabla drum sounds.

But surely people should not be expected to discover that by trial and error? I would think that with very minor modifications to the GUI code it would be possible to modify the piano roll display so that in “percussion mode,” it would only display the rows used for percussion sounds. Or, if that’s not considered reasonable, at the very least there should be a clear explanation in the manual of where the drum sounds appear in the grid. Perhaps it is documented somewhere, but I looked and could not find that info.

This is mostly discovered by trial and error in major DAWs. Percussions are “traditionnally” expected to be found pretty low on the piano roll, starting on a C (C -2 maybe ?). And sure, you could expect having graphical representations of your percussions instead of a piano roll for a regular drumkit, but what about more exotic percussion kits ? Or just custom drumkits, for that matter ?

The big deal is that the notes are not mapped the same way on all plugins.

Some are editables, some are not.

I can remember fabla is editable per pad, you can choose wich note will trigger wich pad, the same for lsp multisampler.

Avldrums is not mappable , so i just setupped plugins that are editable to the same notes as avldrumkits.

Avldrumkits was very well integrated into ardour.when using it the notes in the pianoroll are named like the percs they trigger, there is a demo on youtube about that :wink:

Maybe this could help you to see almost only the notes you are working on?

it’s the right clic menu in the red area left to the virtual kbd. You can also double clic on the keyboard, or drag&drop its borders

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Mostly I tend to use GM soundfonts, which have a standard map to the different drum sounds. After some time you just get used to it.

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