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.

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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

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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.

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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.

1 Response to “how-to: play drums along with a song from your computer”


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