MIDI Drum recording

Hi there. I’m wondering if someone who knows midi well can help me.
I know nothing about MIDI, but am well versed in live music recording and comfortable with Ardour and Pro Tools. As far as midi goes, I think my goal is pretty simple, but after trying different things, searching online, etc, I can’t find specifically what I’d like to do.
Here is my goal:

I have a decent electronic drum kit with basic midi capabilities. I also have a behringer UMC404HD interface, also with full midi capabilities.
I simply want to be able to play some basic drum beats and record the midi info into a session, then play around with some drum software to find a “drum set” I am happy with. I’m in the same position as many people in that I’d like to record drums, but don’t have a space or the means to mic up a real set, etc.
I also know I could simply record the stereo out to a stereo track, but I do want the control of different drum sounds, etc that midi will provide after the fact.

If someone can give me a midi-for-boneheads lesson on this specifically, I’d be very grateful.
Thx in advance!

@toemossgarcia, welcome!
Sometimes some plugin instruments don’t play sound, when I play my midi keyboard, even if I’ve made exactly what I’ve made in those videos. I think it (plugins) have internal routing fault or something like this. Which plugin do you use? For example some “win-vst” plugins through Carla and some .sf2 files loaded into a-fluidsynth have no sound, when I play midi keyboard (but still those plugins and .sf2(s) could sound during playback existing midi regions). I didn’t find the reason, so I had just drawn some midi notes for those midi parts. Also does your plugin sound, when you playback any midi region with it?
My video (generally) was about the possibility to record step-by-step midi parts, which can’t be record by one take (if you’re not a drummer for example). The reason of making the midi bus, midi-tracks for record and for listening is the lack of loop midi recording in ardour. We could make only one midi track with an instrument, make a loop and record kick, snare… etc. into a single region, but… :slight_smile: https://community.ardour.org/node/13648

Just check again, may be this help:

  1. ‘drum_record’ OUT is connected to ‘drum-instrument’ IN;
  2. ‘drum_record’ Monitor Input is activated (rectangle button “In” in the mixer);
  3. ‘drum_instrument’ OUT is connected to Master IN

@cooltehno thanks for posting that tutorial! Unfortunately I’m running into the issue that, although the midi input is picked up by ardour, no sound is produced when I play on my midi drums. I followed the guide exactly but I guess I’m missing something that wasn’t covered.

What have you managed to do so far? Are you getting MIDI input from the drumset into the computer?

I haven’t done anything yet. Not sure how to start. Looked on youtube and all the tutorials, they don’t really show how to get the midi info only, then play with the sounds AFTER the fact. Also, they don’t show them using midi cables funny enough. Just usb.
Figured I’d get the basics before I dive in and setup.
Thx for the reply

Like everyone else is saying, the basic process is pretty simple.

  • Plug the drumset's MIDI output into your computer -- for some kits, this will be a USB connection, for others, a standard MIDI DIN cable to plug into your audio interface. If your interface has multiple DIN connections, make sure to plug into the one labeled "In."
  • Create a MIDI track in Ardour, and set its input to input where you plugged in your drumkit. For a kit over USB, this input will usually be named after the make or model of the kit, for one connected through the audio interface, it will usually be the name/model of the interface, possibly with a port number.
  • Hit a few notes on the kit and make sure that Ardour is receiving MIDI input. The yellow-ish MIDI meter (where the audio meter usually is in the mixer strip), should go up and down.
  • To get a sound when you play, you'll need some kind of sound library. A good starting point would be Ardour's own General MIDI synth, or a SoundFont loaded into Ardour's Fluidsynth plugin. for electronic sounds, some freeware drum samplers might be appropriate, for more realistic acoustic sounds, I'd recommend a sampler like Sfortzando (free) or Kontakt (has a free edition with a few instruments) with a multisampled library.

    To actually make the kit make the right noises, you're going to have to either map the sounds to the kit (the easiest approach when using something like an electronic drum sampler), or map the kit to the sounds (most kits will allow you to change which MIDI notes and CCs are emitted for the different pads.

    Once each pad is giving the right sounds, you're ready to record.

  • Arm the track, and record just like an audio track.
  • Play it back -- you should here the drums as you played them (more or less).

An important part of recording MIDI instruments is latency – you want to hear the sounds you’ll be using when you’re playing, not the sounds from your e-kit, so that you feel the response and play the right things. To do that, make sure you’re monitoring through the computer (not the audio interface’s “zero-latency” port or the drumkit’s own outputs), and set your audio settings in Ardour (mostly buffer) to get the lowest latency you can without xruns.

This is kind of vague and general, so feel free to ask for more details.

Matt, knowing quite nothing about midi as you, I try to help you.
I recorded a midi keyboard in Ardour. Connected to my sound card, that’s connected to my computer via usb.
Once I recorded the keyboard, I went to the recorded track in Ardour and chose a vst I liked.
In other words, even if you record your drum, as midi, that’s the bone structure. Then, one in Ardour, you chose a VST you like.

I use a midi controller for drums. Basically you need to make a new midi track and connect the midi input your drums are connected to, much like audio. Add in a drum synth or sampler (you could use a-fluidsynth to start and load some drum sf2s, many are freely available), arm it to record, set it to play the input if you need to soft monitor. Once your midi track is recorded you can just switch which sf2s you load or delete that plugin and add another instrument. One thing to watch for is which midi channel your drums operate on. If the synth/sampler is looking at a different channel you won’t get sound (often drums are on channel 10), usually its easiest to change the channel the plugin is watching for than to change what your drumkit sends. Omni mode is nice (it watches all midi channels) but not all synths have it.

As mentioned before, its really not too different from audio as far as workflow goes, and a midi drumkit really isn’t any different than a midi keyboard, just that you control different sounds (though it would be interesting to connect it to a piano wouldn’t it?). Hopefully that helps, and feel free to ask for more clarification if something doesn’t make sense.

Synthetic drums midi record:


Acoustic drums midi record:


Thanks so much for the replies!
cooltehno, that is so nice of you to go through the whole tutorial. That helps immensely!
I’m going to go experiment tonight and will get back to everyone tomorrow.
So cool of you all to help!

BTW, is there no way to get email notifications when there are new replies to topics I make, etc? I don’t see a button like on most forums…???

I’ve made one custom action for comfortable work in these videos:

To record with pre-count you can use the hot-key of function “Record w/Count-In” (menu/Transport). To set the hot-key go: “Window>Keyboard Shortcuts>Global>Transport>Record w/Count-In” and press desired key (I use * - key in numpad)

csmatt45, welcome! If there will be questions - ask//

There’s no way to get email notifications @csmatt45.

Best of luck! And let us know i

*if you have more questions.