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Starship Krupa

Abandon all hope, ye who enter The Drum Map Manager

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I've been using Cakewalk by BandLab since the first release in April 2018 and I still have a zero batting average for trying to apply a drum map successfully without anything going wrong. No matter how many times I've thought I figured it out, that I finally understand how it works and what to do, the very next time I try to use one, it turns to shiitake mushrooms.

I finally just gave up and used this method where you can put drum names on the piano keys in the PRV, which works perfectly, but CbB has a bug where that doesn't persist through closing and reopening the PRV. So I gave up again and have gotten pretty good at remembering which piano key corresponds to a General MIDI drum kit. Or I just tap on my controller until I find the drum I want and then count keys on the screen. Isn't that a fly workflow? I might as well put some of those binary switches on the front of my computer case and use those to program beats.

Every once in a while, I get tired of counting keys and think "hey, let's throw a drum map on there so we can just see the instrument names right there on the left side of my screen." Just to see what happens. It's kind of like going on a date with your crazy ex to confirm they are still very bad news.

It can be anything from just forgetting how many times I have to return to the MIDI track (first you launch the Drum Map Manager, then you "create a new map," then you call a preset up from a list and apply that to the new map, then you click okay and close it all, then after that you go back to the MIDI strip and tell it to use the drum map that you just created) to it just. not. working. and sound stops coming out. Tonight I found out that Drum Maps have the ability to fudge up tracks that are just innocent bystanders.

This time I did the create, call preset, apply preset, and it set all the notes to output to the interface's MIDI out port. Why? Because it can, I guess, and what am I going to do about it? Go buy Studio One? Use Mixcraft? Deleted the map, created another new map, preset....bang, same deal. Okay, so let's go in and set the ports to XPand!2 which I'm using for the drum sounds. Open the manual to see how to change all the entries at once, click, apply....and.... No. Drum. Sound. At. All. Just the bass synth track playing in Analog Lab, which has somehow changed to a Farfisa patch. And no drum names in the PRV. Drum Map Manager, you little tease!

Set the synth back to the right patch, cool, huge bass sound, still no drums. Go back in, delete, create, apply, save, exit, apply to track and....all Farfisa, no drums. Back in the Drum Map Manager, I notice that somehow I've got the channel assignments wrong, which should in no way account for the patch change in Aisle 4, but I fix them, and go through the dance again, and yay, we get drum names, but still no sound, and Farfisa Syndrome. Out the hole and round the tree again with deleting everything and reapplying, and now we get names, drum track playing....and a Farfisa organ playing the bass part.

This all takes the better part of half an hour, at the end of which, you can imagine, my enthusiasm and creativity levels for tweaking my drum part are just off the charts, so far off the charts that I don't care about cymbals any more and am wondering what I can watch on Netflix.

As it stands right now, I can apply the drum map, get note names in the PRV and drum sounds in the speakers, but Farfisa in the bass. I can easily go in and manually set it back to the ripping detuned double sawtooth bass patch, but the world wonders: after all of that why do I still have to prop it up with a stick? How can a drum map cause a program change on the bass synth just by being applied to the drum track? I've examined the drum map and the program and bank have not been changed, not been set to anything at all.

So a warning: drum maps aren't just an overcomplicated, counterintuitive, fussy, clumsy, ugly trip to Windows for Workgroups 3.11 land, they are also capable of getting loose and messing things up in other tracks.

Now I have to get back to my project of writing GM drum names on my MIDI controller, need to decide: Sharpie or P-Touch, so Merry Xmas! Sleep well, sugar plums.

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Note: it appears that closing and opening the project makes it switch back to Farfisa "bass."

And yes, what solved it was deleting the drum map.

Now the custom note names bug needs to be squashed pronto.

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I feel like the Drum Map Manager could benefit from ta similar level of abstraction you see on the Articulation Maps. We're in 2020 moving towards 2021. Nobody should be required to know MIDI Note Numbers. Also, why is something you apply to projects on a case by case basis in the preferences?

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Try Sitala 1.0 for your drums. It loads the names of the drums in the prv and the step sequencer. 

On 12/25/2020 at 6:40 AM, Starship Krupa said:

Note: it appears that closing and opening the project makes it switch back to Farfisa "bass."

And yes, what solved it was deleting the drum map.

Now the custom note names bug needs to be squashed pronto.

One of the reasons I have never messed with the drum map..

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After having a trouble everytime with drum maps, I quit using it and I started to use the Step Sequencer with templates. Now every drum synth I have has an individual step sequencer template. I created templates with loading a drum map only once. To saving the drum names on the template, the trick is, you need to rename it to be stored. Entering a character and then deleting it does the job. But the problem is you have to do this rename thing to every notes. So I wrote a program for that. You can use it.

Drum Maps to Step Sequencer.exe

After loading the file, just click on the top of the drum name list on the Step Sequencer and hit F1 & R keys on your keyboard to start renaming. It starts to convert drum map names into step sequencer drum names. Wait until it completes the job to the end of the list then hit F1 & E to exit the loop. 

Now you can save the Step Sequencer template with drum names on it. 

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On 12/26/2020 at 8:02 AM, Bruno de Souza Lino said:

 why is something you apply to projects on a case by case basis in the preferences?

Because it is, and always has been, how you adjust both Project and General preferences. If you don't have a project open, you don't get all the possible options in the Preference dialog.

 

 

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Always enjoy reading about your Adventures in Drum Maps, @Starship Krupa I keep thinking I should learn how they work and how to create them, but I've seen (at least) two posts from you on the subject, and then I think better of it. Have you tried to hound the bakers about this situation? The rest of us would be grateful if you could talk them into producing a workable solution.

Edited by Larry Jones
clarity
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54 minutes ago, Larry Jones said:

Have you tried to hound the bakers about this situation?

Well, this post here in Feedback is kinda to that end.

After almost 3 years with CbB, I feel like I'm not a n00b any more and start to wonder: if I'm still messing things up this badly, newer users don't stand a chance.

This isn't the first time I've posted about this and gotten responses from power users saying that they either avoid the feature or have workarounds. When @Xel Ohh speaks up, I'm reminded how clumsy it is to set up the Piano Roll View for beat making, and the PRV is where I feel more comfortable doing that. It just works for my head better than the Step Sequencer (at least now). I won't get started on issues about switching back and forth between Step Sequencer and PRV. Beat making is HUGELY IMPORTANT in 2021.

I've suggested simple changes that could help, such as, for instance, being able to launch the Drum Map Manager from the Piano Roll View. There's a menu item for "Show Drum Pane," which results in a big blank space at the left, and that's it. At the very least, you should be able to right click in that space and get a context menu with "Drum Map Manager" on it. You use Drum Maps in the PRV, but there's no way to access them from there.

Also, if you launch the DMM from a given MIDI track, CbB should apply the drum map you create to that track automatically or with a dialog where you can pick the track, rather than having to go back to the MIDI channel and re-route the output. That last bit is one of the most crazy-making parts of it.

The bottom of a track's channel strip is really not the first, second, or even third place I'd look for setting up a Drum Map. Furthermore, the language is counterintuitive. It asks you to "Create a New Drum Map." I don't want to "create" one, I just want to use one, or apply one, or whatever. "Create" sounds like you're going to make one up from scratch. The whole business of "create," only after which you are able to select from the list of existing drum maps, is superfluous anyway. They should be two different operations: "create" a Drum Map should be the activity of creating and saving one, while what we do now should be called "use" or "apply."

99% of the time, all the user wants to do is call up an existing drum map and apply it to a track. That process should be straightforward and streamlined, and it should start in the PRV, not at the bottom of a channel strip.

Mixcraft, for instance, has a button at the top of their PRV that says "Drum Map." You click on it and get a list of available drum maps, you select one, and that is it, the track you're working on is now using that drum map. I know of one Cakewalk veteran power user who started using Mixcraft and couldn't find drum maps because it was so easy. He was expecting it to be a big rigmarole, not just pressing a button at the top of the PRV.

I can see where the current process is a leftover from the days of external drum machines, even before General MIDI, where a drum map was critical for a lot more than just making your drum names show up in the PRV. You needed to be able to translate to all these different companies' note numbers, and you probably only had one or two drum boxes. These days, I have half a dozen virtual drum machines, and some of my other synths and samplers have drum kit patches.

It's past time for this feature to get an overhaul, but even a few small things would improve it a great deal.

 

Edited by Starship Krupa
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11 minutes ago, Starship Krupa said:

Well, this post here in Feedback is kinda to that end.

Sorry, Erik, I didn't realize I was in the Feedback forum. I stumbled on your excellent rant by accident when I searched for "Studio One 5." I crossgraded to S1-3 back when it looked like Cakewalk was gone forever, and Presonus offered  a great deal. I'm sure I wasn't the only one, but before I really got into S1, Cakewalk was revived and I haven't used it much since then. I have upgraded to version 4 and now I see they have another great deal on version 5, so I thought I'd see if there were any CbB users with something to say on the subject. I definitely had more fun reading your post above, though.

All that said, I can imagine the bakers' responses to someone who wants better drum map implementation:

  • We only have time and resources to do the things that most of our users want.
  • You can program MIDI drums in the plugin GUI, so you don't need an effective drum map.
  • It would require reprogramming the entire Piano Roll View.
  • [Insert other arcane technical objection(s) here.]

I love CbB and will always be grateful to Bandlab for saving it and employing the bakers to improve it. But once bitten, twice shy, and I'm keeping Studio One installed and updated, just in case.

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I submit that Drum Maps are possibly the most stable and well-documented features of SONAR/Cakewalk that get mentioned by folks having difficulty.

In terms of enhancements, personally, I'd love to see an XML or JSON export/import.

 

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7 minutes ago, Larry Jones said:
  • We only have time and resources to do the things that most of our users want.
  • You can program MIDI drums in the plugin GUI, so you don't need an effective drum map.
  • It would require reprogramming the entire Piano Roll View.
  • [Insert other arcane technical objection(s) here.]

In order:

1. Another reason for my occasional rants is to push the issue to the top, as it were. The bakerdevs go by what we clamor for, and a thread like this that indicates pretty much nobody who has checked in actually uses the feature as it is....if that doesn't tickle their fancy, I don't know how else. Is a single user, one who uses drum maps, satisfied with how they "work" now? I've posted before and heard nothing but agreement that the process is heinous in the einous. There's a catch 22 here: people don't complain about drum maps because drum maps are so complicated and weird that we all give up and find ways around it. Nobody says anything, no attention is given to the issue.

2. That's only true for some, not all drum synths. For instance, my favorite for sounds, SONIVOX' Blue Jay Drums, has no facility for programming beats. I don't know if it's even possible to program beats in Sampletank. I use Xpand!2's drum kits a lot and it has no onboard programming. TTS-1 has no onboard programming. Even some of my ones that emulate beatbox sounds don't emulate their ability to program. I think my Drumazon 707 is actually the only one I have where I can program in the plug-in. Moreover, I often program a beat using something "light" like Xpand!2 and then switch instruments after I get the beat programmed. That would be impossible using the drum machine's UI. And who wants to learn to program in 5 different drum machines' UI's when they could do it in their favorite DAW?

3. Some of my suggestions, such as being able to access the DMM from within PRV would not require anything more than adding a context menu and a menu item or two. Just the ability to right-click in the blank Drum Pane space and see a menu item for "Drum Map Manager" would have saved me hours when I was new and staring at it trying to figure out how to add a drum map. Having it automatically apply the map to the active track wouldn't either. And besides, as mentioned earlier, the PRV got the Articulation Map, so they don't seem to be too averse to opening the code for the PRV.

I put myself in the head of a 20-something who downloads this awesome DAW and immediately wants to start programming drum parts. Everything looks great, you put your notes in here, etc. But then I want to go beyond the piano keys, I know DAW's have this thing called a drum map that lets you see all the drum names in the piano roll and sends the right notes to your drum plug-in. Where do I go from there? I click on Open Drum Pane and it gives me a blank space instead of piano keys. After that, what? You can't even get the nightmare started without consulting the manual, which leads with "Drum maps are virtual MIDI ports that you create and edit." Whaat?

One of the issues is that (I think) most people who want to apply a drum map primarily just want to see the correct note/instrument names at the left. All the other things that drum maps can do, mapping to different instruments and all that, are not as important to them (me), if at all. The current process assumes that you're using a Sequential Circuits Drum Trax or something and need to re-map all your MIDI notes to work with it. That functionality should absolutely be there, but in an "advanced" menu. Most people don't want or need to roll their own drum maps. These days, maybe a dozen canned ones will do it. EZDrummer, General MIDI, 808, etc. Call up the dialog, select one from a pick list, and go. If the one you want isn't on the list, or if you want to do fancy stuff with multiple instruments, then you go into the advanced dialog.

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59 minutes ago, Larry Jones said:

All that said, I can imagine the bakers' responses to someone who wants better drum map implementation:

I suspect they agree and it is on the list of things to do. 

 

It may seem strange that drum map presets and the Drum Map Manager are at

1 hour ago, Starship Krupa said:

The bottom of a track's channel strip....

Drum maps predate the track inspector and instrument tracks.

 

Drum Maps are a MIDI track output setting. 

All MIDI tracks have access to drum map presets and the Drum Map Manager.

The MIDI track output drop down assigns a new drum map preset to the track.

The drum map manager is available in the output drop down  to create a new drum map for the track, modify the existing drum map or save a new drum map preset.

 

Instrument tracks are a simplified presentation of the MIDI track's input and an audio track's output.

The MIDI track output and audio track input default to the synth used while creating the instrument track. These controls are not visible on the track view header strip.

Since an Instrument track may need a drum map, the MIDI track output is exposed on the MIDI tabs of the track inspector.

Without the track inspector, instrument tracks would need to be split to access the underlying MIDI output drop down.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Colin Nicholls said:

I submit that Drum Maps are possibly the most stable and well-documented features of SONAR/Cakewalk that get mentioned by folks having difficulty.

Do you mean that as a compliment? Mentioned by folks having difficulty, indeed.

"Stable"=not updated since the '90's, "well-documented"=you have to go to the manual to even know where to start.

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7 minutes ago, scook said:

Drum Maps are a MIDI track output setting. 

All MIDI tracks have access to drum map presets and the Drum Map Manager.

The MIDI track output drop down assigns a new drum map preset to the track.

Yes. However, they have big ramifications in the PRV when working on tracks use a drum map. Without one assigned, you don't get drum names in the Drum Pane. I'm advocating for a more intuitive connection between the two. For instance: you have an active MIDI track in the PRV. Right click in the blank space at the left of the Drum Pane and access the presets and DMM from there, and have the map assigned to the active track. Or maybe from the PRV Track List. Just somewhere the user can find it in the PRV.

Yes. However, that's where I believe there's a nomenclature issue. The menu item to assign an existing preset is "New Drum Map," which, to me, implies that I would use that to create an entire new one, like what you do when you select "New File" in a program.

Yes, and that is as it should be. I'd just like that to be available in the PRV (for starters).

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20 minutes ago, Starship Krupa said:
36 minutes ago, scook said:

Drum Maps are a MIDI track output setting. 

All MIDI tracks have access to drum map presets and the Drum Map Manager.

The MIDI track output drop down assigns a new drum map preset to the track.

Yes. However, they have big ramifications in the PRV when working on tracks use a drum map. Without one assigned, you don't get drum names in the Drum Pane. I'm advocating for a more intuitive connection between the two. For instance: you have an active MIDI track in the PRV. Right click in the blank space at the left of the Drum Pane and access the presets and DMM from there, and have the map assigned to the active track. Or maybe from the PRV Track List. Just somewhere the user can find it in the PRV.

Personally, I think the drum pane is redundant. The functionality could be folded into the Note pane.

But suggesting changes was not the point of my post. It was offered as an explanation of why instrument tracks appear as they do. 

 

I can understand the confusion WRT the MIDI output drop down. I suspect is it called a "New Drum Map" because it is a new object being added to the project.

Drum maps like articulation maps are stored in the project.

They may be created on the fly using the tools provided or loaded from files.

Once loaded they are stored in the project and no longer have anything to do with the presets stored on disk.

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2 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

"Stable"=not updated since the '90's, "well-documented"=you have to go to the manual to even know where to start.

 

>> "Stable"=not updated since the '90's,

Like, say, the MIDI standard, for example? I'm surprised we manage to make any music at all with something so archaic. ūüėČ

>> "well-documented"=you have to go to the manual to even know where to start.

I would hope so.

 

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I found at least 3 tutorials on youtube (search term "cakewalk drum maps").  Two of them are by the wonderful "Creative Sauce" guy.

I don't know if these would be of any help, but if you haven't seen them, it might be worth a try.

 

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The problem about Drum Maps is, we have to reassign Out Ports everytime only if we are not using a Project Template which we already have preassigned Out ports to the Synths. Even in that Project Template, when we delete a Synth, Drum Map's Out Port is changing. There should be a thing between the Drum Map and the Synth which makes the Out Port connection consistent. We are not having a trouble about Drum Maps. We are having a trouble to keep connection between the Synth and the Drum Map. 

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2 hours ago, Colin Nicholls said:

>> "Stable"=not updated since the '90's,

Like, say, the MIDI standard, for example? I'm surprised we manage to make any music at all with something so archaic. ūüėČ

>> "well-documented"=you have to go to the manual to even know where to start.

I would hope so.

The MIDI standard has been updated multiple times to accommodate changes in the way people use it. I'd like to see Cakewalk's workflow for using drum maps get updated, too. I'm a middle-aged guy with no kids, so I don't necessarily have my finger on the pulse of modern pop music. If constructing rhythm tracks using a computer program is something that has fallen out of fashion, then maybe it's not important to update Cakewalk's workflow in that area.

We may disagree on principles of software UX (although it would surprise me if we did), but to my philosophy, in 2021, the less someone must refer to a manual in order to use a program, the better. In some other DAW's, using a drum map is a trivial task. Click a button or right click in the PRV for "Drum Map," you get a list of available ones, pick one, and you're done. My issue with the process is that you may only initiate it from a Track Header or Channel Strip so if you're working in the PRV Drum Pane and decide "hey, I'd like to have a drum map here so I can see my instrument names over on the left," the means to make this happen are over in the next window, and if I need to change anything from a stock map I then wind up fiddling around over there because there are extra steps after working in the DMM.

Connecting a track with a drum map could be made more intuitive right away just by adding a few menu items and taking the "New" off of "New Drum Map." It doesn't have to have a complete retool, nothing I have suggested is major. Just some menu links so that we can set up the process from the Piano Roll View if we choose, and maybe a preference item for having the map apply to the currently active/selected track.

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