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Old 09-25-2008, 06:46 PM
Mikey Ace Mikey Ace is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 72
Default Calling all that write/program midi drums by hand in the Pro Tools midi editor.

Hey all.
I think I am trying to do the impossible. lol
So please chime in if i'm not alone.

I am trying to write/program midi drums in the pro tools midi editor in the rock genre and its been rough.
I start in the midi editor with the "grid" on beats and 1/4 notes.
For a basic example of what I do...
I would enter my kicks on 1 and 3, and snare on 2 and 4. Then I would adjust the grid for 1/8 beats and lay down a hi hat across "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8."
I would then switch to velocity and make the kicks and snares louder and adjust the hi hat to sound natural like..
1st hi hat- loud
2nd hi hat- medium
3rd hi hat- loud
4th hi hat - medium
and so up to 8.
I would listen back and it sounds very robotic. lol

So I use midi loops to study how they do it to sound natural.
And after studying I noticed that most of the midi notes are not lined up perfectly with the grid. Some notes are slightly ahead or behind.

This makes it even harder now to program because the grid that was very helpful is now becoming useless to program a natural feel. lol

So besides actually playing the pattern on keys/ pads or V-drums, how do you program drums in pro tools to sound natural for a rock genre by hand

Please share your tips and techniques.
I would really appreciate it.
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Old 09-25-2008, 07:41 PM
spkguitar's Avatar
spkguitar spkguitar is offline
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Pittsburgh
Posts: 18,161
Default Re: Calling all that write/program midi drums by hand in the Pro Tools midi editor.

My buddy Jason wrote a post a while ago called My MIDI Drum secrets revealed : you should read it.

My Website: Pro Tools "Newbie" Help

Studio rig: Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R, Intel i7 920, 6GB Patriot DDR3, NVidia 8600GS, LG GGW-H20L BD-RE, Sony CRX195E1 CD-RW, 2x WD Caviar black 640GB (os swap), 1x WD caviar 320GB (sessions), 1x Maxtor 120GB (sessions), 1x Seagate 1TB (samples/loops), Profire2626, Command8, PT12 on OSX

Mobile Rig: 2015 MacBook Pro Retina, Apollo Twin, PT12
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Old 10-05-2008, 07:14 PM
O.G. Killa's Avatar
O.G. Killa O.G. Killa is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 2,152
Default Re: Calling all that write/program midi drums by hand in the Pro Tools midi editor.

After you have your beat finished. Open up the quantize window (yes I know you already placed the midi to the grid)... turn on the "Randomize" check box and set the slider to maybe 2~5% and and turn the strength to maybe 90 or 95%... Instant human slop! Works pretty well if you are into that sort of thing...

For me personally, I would rather have it dead on the grid. I've done TONS of midi programming and tons of beat detective on live drums... and I've been lucky enough to work with some of the "greats" drumming-wise.

One of the things I've noticed... Drummers like Vinnie Coliauta, Greg Bissonette, Nathaniel Morton, etc have such perfect time that they are dead on to the grid. I measured Nate's tracks once... at 96KHz, he was never more than +/- 100 SAMPLES away from the grid. For all intensive purposes that's tighter than the variation you get with midi!!!

And did he (or any of the others I've worked with) sound "robotic"? No way. Quite the opposite. The closer something is to the grid (being perfectly quantized) the HARDER it grooves. The more random/loose/unquantized something is the more it loses the groove.

So what makes something sound robotic then if it isn't time? Dynamics!!! It could be you need better drum sounds, or it could be you need to get better at varying the dynamics. Having ALL the snare backbeats at the same level, all the kicks at the same level, all the upbeat hihats at one level and all the downbeat hihats at one level is what is making the beat sound robotic.

Select the pencil tool, and choose the "random" pattern... draw that across your drum velocities just a little... it will probably start to help... but even more so, if you think like a drummer your programming will sound more realistic. The downbeat of one is usually hit the hardest. If the kick is doing the "&" before 3 it will be noticeably lighter than the downbeat of 3. Most drummers when doing fills or 16th note patterns will always hit their right hand (if they are right-handed) a little harder than their left... this makes the "e" and "ah" of each beat inherently lighter by a hair.

Some of the newer drum VIs will do this for you. BFD, EZ drummer, Addictive Drums etc will all randomize the midi input into the plugin for you so you don't have to do it manually... they will also switch samples. BFD for example usually has 10 different samples at velocity 127 for each drum and cymbal and it randomly selects which one of the 10 will get triggered from one hit to the next, which makes it sound more realistic.
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