How do I write/record midi drums?!

Hi all,

I am brand new to Ardour, have been using Sonar for some time now under Windows, but want to move away from it. Under Sonar, I was using Battery 3 as my drum suite, and it works great.

I have checked on Linux forums and it seems like Hydrogen is a pretty good drum suite, but I am not too sure how to make it work with Ardour, or if it is the right way to go…

Can anyone share some thoughts? Is hydrogen the right tool for this? How can I record my own drums with it? (I would appreciate some simple answers, like I said, total beginner! :wink: )



I use Hydrogen when writing the drums parts of my songs... It's pretty easy. You'll need a tool like qjackctl for connecting  the Hydrogen output to the Ardour input. First, create your rhythms on Hydrogen. Then, start Ardour and create a track. Go to qjackctl and connect the two outputs of Hydrogen (left and right) to the Ardour's input for that track. Select that track for recording in Ardour and start recording. Then go to Hydrogen and play your rythm. It will be recorded on the track.
If someone knows a easier way to do that, please let me know. I am a begginer too.


Absolutely :slight_smile:
That’s how I do my drumming : via Rosegarden and a VSTi through the VST host called dssi-vst. Rosegarden controls the VSTi but will be sync’ed to ardour via the jack transport mode. All these guys run in sync on one press of the play button (and that button makes no difference whatsoever be it in rosegarden, ardour or qjackctl - the jack GUI control).

watch my super lame video at where I show the stuff in action (be warned, there’s no comment, it’s boring, etc).

I use rosegarden to record drum tracks from my Roland kit, then tweak the midi (double tracked notes or mishits). I can then change out drum sounds, etc during the mixing stage.

I need to just compile ardour3 and see how the new midi stuff works, but I haven’t had the spare time.

Hi GodLikeCreature!!! Yes, Hydrogen is a perfect tool for this.

You can make your Drum parts in Hydrogen and then export the session to a wav file and import this audio file in ardour.

And if you use the development version of Hydrogen (v0.9.4) you can connect the ouputs of each instrument of Hydrogen to diferent tracks in ardour. This way, you can have the snare, kick , crash and all the drum in diferent tracks in Ardour.

I hope this helps.

Good Bye!!!

Thank you for that!!!

It´s quite a turn from the way I was working with Sonar and Battery, and I must admit it sounds quite weird now, so I will need to roll up my sleeves and give it a serious try…

Let´s dive into those cold waters! :wink:

The way I do it is, at least until the drum parts are finalized, use the two programs in parallel. That is, rather than connecting Hydrogen’s outputs to a track in Ardour, simply time sync the two programs and use them side-by-side. To do this, change Ardour’s transport mode from “Internal” to “JACK” (next to the two clocks in the toolbar). Then make sure both Ardour and your project in Hydrogen are set to the same tempo, set Hydrogen to “song mode”, and when you hit “Play” in one of the applications, the other one should start playing at the same point on the timeline. Then you can develop your drum parts in Hydrogen and dub in whatever else (guitars, bass, etc.) in Ardour. Multiple desktops are nice for this kind of work too, because both Ardour and Hydrogen enjoy being full-screen apps. After you’ve gotten your drum parts all worked out, you can record a “take” into Ardour using the techniques described by the two posts above, close Hydrogen altogether, and concentrate on the mixing.

Cool, cbreeze, I’ll try this. Seems a more eficient way to work with drums on Ardour. Is it possible to do the same with Rosegarden/Ardour? Just like playing a song in Rosegarden synchronized with Ardour tracks?



Btw, I am on that drum track writing stage now, also building my own drumkits, and I stumbled a couple things that I find weird…

When adding instruments, using layers and stuff, I think it´s very straight forward and the interface is easy and clear, but… It seems to me that the tweaking on the instrument that you are allowed is very limited to a bit of compression, panning and preamp. However, EQ a major factor when creating drum sounds. I have searched throughout and it seems that the only way to apply EQ is using additional FX plugins, but that sounds a bit too complex for something as basic as EQ.

Am I missing something here or is it indeed true that Hydrogen has no built in EQ capabilities?

as far as I know, that’s right. It is one of the reasons (even though not the major one) I gave up using hydrogen for my main drumming. Since I am into rock music, I needed something that could be tweaked a lot, had a lot of punchy sounds, and all sorts of settings (room, overhead, extra inserts, etc, etc). I got all I needed from a VSTi that is unfortunately not free but works wonderfully well at all latencies through dssi-vst. I helped another guy in this forum with the same VSTi. No regret at all. Of course, if you want to stick to open-source, that’s also fine. But in my case, I was reaching a dead-end with hydrogen. But I can still use it for very specific stuff with my own sample kits (not necessarily drumkits).

splitting out Hydrogen’s instruments as seperate jack connections might be an option (available in Hydrogen’s settings), you can then connect them to different tracks/busses and use EQs and stuff with ardour’s automation. If that doesn’t melt your CPU.


After my midi tracks are set up, I record each instrument from the drum module to it’s own track in Ardour so that I can add compression, eq, separate reverb sends, etc. for each drum. With my setup, I have absolute separation with no mic bleed.

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