Music is a very personal and individual interest, especially if you are a musician yourself. When creating and recording music on your computer-based home recording studio, it is now possible to add drums to your songs – even if you don’t have a drum kit! This is a fantastic opportunity to make your tracks sound even more professional and polished. Since music is such a difficult industry to break into, any tips and tricks you can leverage to gain an advantage over potential competitors can make all the difference. In this article we are going to give you the basics you need to learn how to add virtual drums to your tracks.
Before you start you’ll need some basic equipment:
A Multi-Track Recording Software Program with MIDI Capability
There are many recording programs, sometimes called Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) which have MIDI capability; some of the leading ones include Adobe Audition, Garage Band(for Apple) and Reaper. All of these programs provide the base for your music recording. It is likely you’ll already have such software downloaded but be sure your particular program has MIDI capability.
A Virtual Instrument Plug-in For Drums
There are many virtual instrument plug-ins available. The most reputable and reliable come from Steinberg and their VSTi format, such as Groove Agent or StormDrum. Other quality formats include Apple’s Audio Units (AU), Digidesign’s Real Time Audiosuite (RTAS), Microsoft’s Direct-X Instrument (DXi), and Steinberg’s Virtual Studio Technology instrument (VSTi) plug-ins. Picking which format to use usually depends on what format your software supports.
A MIDI keyboard controller is an essential attachment for adding drum beats to your recordings. There are many models out there from all reputable brands including Korg, Yamaha and M-Audio. These usually are available in miniature units with fewer than the 88 keys one would find on a piano. This makes them easy to set right next to your computer keyboard. If you can get one that has adjustable velocity or keyboard “touch-sensitivity,” do it. This makes drum triggering sound MUCH more natural.
Once you’ve got your equipment, it’s time to start.
Firstly, open your recorded session from your hard drive in your DAW. Once your track is open you are able to add your MIDI drum instrument to a track via the IMPORT/INSERT or FX option in your software program. You can then build your own drum part by playing the drums with your keyboard (usually each drum is mapped to a specific key). Depending on the drum program you use, there may be preset song templates you can use without having to play your own parts. Once you have inserted and/or recorded your drum samples, you can edit and adjust them within your recorded session as you would any other element. This is made MUCH easier if you use the tempo and click-track features of the DAW. You’ll then be able to make sure the drum hits are right on the beat of your song. MIDI edit screens will display a grid representing the song’s tempo, which you can set and edit within the DAW.
The recording software programs mentioned at the beginning of the article have multi-track capability, which allows you add more layers such as your MIDI drum sequence to your recording. Sometimes you’ll want to put each type of drum on its own track, or maybe have the drum kit on one track and devote two or three other tracks to percussion instruments such as tambourine or hand-drum.
If you’re The Beatles without Ringo or just a soloist who needs a decent beat, using virtual drum beats could be your answer. Here’s your chance to create your own band from the comfort of your home studio.