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John Nelson

Acoustic Drums Converted to MIDI for Drum VSTi

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What is the best, most elegant way to convert a multi tracked drum recording to MIDI, either wholly or partially (e.g., kick and snare), such that it could then be used to trigger a drum VSTi like BFD3 or Superior etc.?

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I use Superior to do this.  There are other ways.  None of this works very well unless the drums were tracked individually. 
 

Max Arwood

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This doesn't directly answer that question because as Max noted nothing usually works very well when the drums aren't tracked individually. This won't be useful to you now, but maybe later................find a decent drummer and let him or her play the parts in using almost any midi drum controller. The better ones yield better resolutions.........but an old Alesis or Yamaha  midi kit works  in a pinch. Drummer>midi>vst>simples. You can tap in beats using any midi keyboard as well.

Cakewalk  has a drum replacer feature that works pretty well. Might save someone the trouble of a total retake or audio to midi conversion. There are nice drum specific plugins that can change the whole character of a kit. If the audio is tight you could always drop in or create midi loops. 

It's pretty much the old idea that if you capture it well going in you save yourself a LOT of work later on. If you don't, sometimes it's easier to look for an alternative solution.

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2 hours ago, Starise said:

nothing usually works very well when the drums aren't tracked individually.

OP said "multi tracked drum recording'. To me, that does mean they were miced/tracked individually.

In that case, any of the available methods will work:

- Drum Replacer

- Audiosnap > Copy as MIDI

- Melodyne drag to MIDI

Melodyne is the most straightforward without having to learn anything,  and will probably do the best job with the least amount of tweaking in any case.

If the drums are not individually tracked, then I would start with Drum Replacer.

 

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Re. Melodyne, I would need the Editor right, not the Essential? 

I have v-drums and I normally play them and record the MIDI to trigger BFD3, but I want to get real drums for the fun factor.  Banging on mesh or rubber is like kissing your girlfriend through a screen door.  I've recorded other drummers here before, they brought their own drums and it came out fine.  But I just want to keep open an option to use multisampled drums to provide variety so not every song is the same sound.

I thought that triggers might be the way to go.  Are they expensive or wonky to set up?

 

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Drag to MIDI works with Essential, and will keep working even after the trial expires if you haven't purchased..It can only generate MIDI on a single pitch, but that's fine for an isolated drum part.

If you're going ot be doing it regularly and maybe working with mixed tracks in some cases, you should check out Drum Replacer.

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Unless I misunderstand the data...audio to midi is unavailable in the Essential version. Upgrades are presently 49.00 for customers.

melodyne.JPG

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11 hours ago, Starise said:

Unless I misunderstand the data...audio to midi is unavailable in the Essential version. 

Maybe its a feature of Cakewalk that uses Melodyne and not something that is available in other DAWs that only have Melodyne Essential? Just a guess.  I raise this possibility because I had used the feature in Cakewalk several times before someone in the forum mentioned it uses Melodyne.  When I drag an audio file (mp3, wav, etc.) to a midi track there is no sign that it is using Melodyne. So, to me, I just thought it was functionality built into Cakewalk.

Edited by User 905133
to add a quote from Starise

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I guess I can't comment because I have the editor version and Cakewalk sees that version. Going by the versions page in Melodyne it shouldn't work using Melodyne essential. If it does, great! I won't tell anyone :)

There is a possibility that some older versions might have shipped with assistant instead of essential. This is a WAG on my part. I really don't know. 

I used drum replacer several times and was really impressed. There are stand alone programs that do similar that aren't inexpensive..so to get it for free in CbB is a savings if one intends to use that technology.

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Seems you can do it with Melodyne essential.
Quoting below from this page (To convert audio to MIDI).

Quote

Note: Melodyne essential and Melodyne assistant only support monophonic audio data. If the audio source contains polyphonic material, the resulting MIDI conversion will be monophonic. Polyphonic audio-to-MIDI conversion is only supported in Melodyne editor.

However, I have no idea with Melodyne player which after the trial expires. Maybe works?

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1 hour ago, HIBI said:

Seems you can do it with Melodyne essential.
Quoting below from this page (To convert audio to MIDI).

Quote

Note: Melodyne essential and Melodyne assistant only support monophonic audio data. If the audio source contains polyphonic material, the resulting MIDI conversion will be monophonic. Polyphonic audio-to-MIDI conversion is only supported in Melodyne editor.

However, I have no idea with Melodyne player which after the trial expires. Maybe works?

Thanks for digging out that link!! (I tend to try first and if the hands-on method doesn't work intuitively or as expected, then I check the online docs / reference guide.) 

So far I have only used variations of this method: "Drag an audio file from the Browser and drop it on a MIDI or Instrument track" although I have also dragged *.mp3, *.wav, and *.other files from a third-party file browser. I have too many things to do at the present, but that page you cited makes me wonder (1) what I can do with the other methods and (2) if the results will be different from the transparent method I have been using. So, thanks for leading me to the other options; I will put them on my to-do list to try.

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I have the paid-for Essentials, will try it out.  Obviously a highly isolated kick or snare should work better.  Overheads would probably be difficult if not impossible with a monophonic algorithm.  Re. Drum Replacer, I think that is a simple canned sample and not the multi-sampled 256 velocity layers full monty like you get with BFD3.  Doesn't sound very sexy....

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If you're interested, drum triggers are pretty easy to make.  Here is a recent article that's all about drum triggers:  https://drummagazine.com/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-drum-triggers-but-were-afraid-to-ask/

Here is a step-by-step construction guide that suggests you can build a trigger for less than $5 US in parts:  https://drummagazine.com/do-it-yourself-drum-triggers/

There are also plenty of how to videos on YouTube.

Of course you can buy aftermarket triggers to retrofit acoustic drums instead of making your own.

Many drummers are picky, picky, picky about their drums and may feel uncomfortable with you taping triggers to their drums.  One way around that is to mount several triggers to several drum heads.  Then you can offer to provide your drum heads for the recording session so both the acoustic and midi can be captured.

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On 2/16/2020 at 2:08 PM, John Nelson said:

I have the paid-for Essentials, will try it out.  Obviously a highly isolated kick or snare should work better.  Overheads would probably be difficult if not impossible with a monophonic algorithm.  Re. Drum Replacer, I think that is a simple canned sample and not the multi-sampled 256 velocity layers full monty like you get with BFD3.  Doesn't sound very sexy....

I second BFD3. It's a wonderful program. You could use something like  Waves Scheps 73 which has an M/S setting and a dedicated drums overhead setting to "stereoize" the track. I never liked polishing a turd though unless it's some really good wax and you can't tell :)

 

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I'm leaning towards the triggers.  Probably will use moon gels anyway so not too concerned about any damping effect. I'll let you guys know how it works out.  most likely will be closer to summer.

 

Edited by John Nelson

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Good luck John. Let us know how it goes.

Something I recently tried that worked well with regard to drums I'll share here just in case it's useful. This works best with music that uses strict drum patterns. Put a patch point on your metronome channel and tie it to an audio track. Arm said audio track. Record metronome. Now add drum replacer to that track. You now have a half decent kick drum in perfect time. Alternatively drag recorded metronome track into a midi track using Melodyne. Now you can trigger anything with it. Add something like Boz Sasquatch if you are into rattling windows three blocks away. Just sayin' Way faster than programming a sequencer IMO.

Edited by Starise

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