how-to: play drums along with a song from your computer

After fum­bling around for an extended period of time to get my com­puter to play sounds when I hit the drum pads con­nected to it with a MIDI-to-USB cable, I finally got it work­ing. The moment I got it work­ing I was so over­joyed. At the same time, I can attribute the long trial & error to the seri­ous lack of documentation/guides on how to do it. There are some forums and long arti­cles full of jar­gons that tend to scare begin­ners away. So, after fight­ing through all the hard shits, I decided to write a lay-​man guide.

1. The rigs

To play drums, you need a drum­set. Long story short, if you just want to prac­tice and are not par­tic­u­larly par­tic­u­lar about the sound details, my DTX­plorer did the trick.


2. The music

The soft­ware you are look­ing for is Guitar Pro. Its very mis­lead­ing name had me believe it was only for guitar for quite a long time. You get to mute the drum track so you can play along with a song, with metronome, adjustable bpm, etc. This soft­ware has a lot of nice fea­tures and you get to print out music sheets with it too!

One great place to find guitar pro tabs is 911tabs


3.The MIDI sampler!

This is the part that got me frus­trated for sev­eral nights. This soft­ware basi­cally con­verts MIDI sig­nals to wave sig­nals to be output from the com­puter speak­ers. That sounds simple enough, huh? If you want to do this and are just start­ing out, you are so lucky to have found this post. A simple google search will turn up all the “MIDI synthesizer”, “MIDI sequencer”, “drum machine”, “VST”, “VSTi” or some per­mu­ta­tions of these terms. Each one of those has its own rather steep learn­ing curve (mostly due to lack of proper doc­u­men­ta­tion) and they’re actu­ally totally dif­fer­ent things, not to men­tion most of them are priced over $100. I just couldn’t believe I had to get so involved to achieve some­thing like the game DTX­Ma­nia – to play a sound when I hit a pad, plain and simple.

After going through a lot of has­sles, and I’m very glad I hadn’t paid in the process, I came across Native Instrument’s Bat­tery 3.


It was the only one that worked like it should – I started the soft­ware, plugged in my drums, played and it emit­ted sounds! No forced advanced fine tuning, no “state-of-the-art” geeky options with 78 con­fig­urable set­tings. The demo ver­sion is actu­ally free too! You get to play 30 min­utes before the pro­gram quits itself. Not a big deal for daily prac­tice, just reopen the pro­gram. The retail ver­sion, with 38 more drum kits is around $200, a very rea­son­able price for some­thing that just works so fine.

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