Having a way to keep good time is essential for recording. If you record things in perfect time it’s easier to go back and add new elements or for other people to play along. So having a drummer is a really good idea. You could just use a click track but that’s boring. A midi drummer has a little more life to it and that will translate into your music and It’s free so why not? Unless you have a real drummer, then you make them play to the click track.
When I started using a drum machine, it was a stand alone device, The Alesis HR-16. They were hard to program, tedious, lots of hours to set up, not like now where everything is just cut and paste. They were usable but they were limited and I would say the same thing about SI Drummer, it’s limited but it’s so much easier to use. The main limitation with SI Drummer is the audio quality. It’s designed to have only one stereo out so you can’t add eq and such to each drum individually. There is a way around it but that’s beyond the scope of this post. Other than that it’s fully functional, easy to edit and sounds pretty good as it is. So it’s a good place to start.
So let’s get started:
At this point you should have Cakewalk installed and functional.
Open Cakewalk/New Project/Empty Project/
At the top menu: Insert/Soft Synth/Drums/SI-Drum Kit
All you need is a simple instrument track. It’s helpful but not necessary to check the other boxes you see checked here.
I like the pictures.
Down at the bottom right you should see the synth rack if you don’t you may have to open the window or rearrange a bit.
Once you have the Synth Rack open and the SI-Drum Kit window is open you can start getting things ready.
Starting at the top left of the instrument view there is the PRG button. You can click on it to change your drum set.
Right below it you can choose patterns.
You can drag and drop them into the grid below to make an audition pattern and use the play controls to start and stop the patterns.
Also if you click on any of the drum pictures they will sound so you can audition them that way.
At the bottom of the set right above the individual drum pictures you have three controls Tune, Pan, Volume. Pretty limited but at least you have those.
On the right of the window you have some more controls Volume, Reverb and Compression. I recommend setting the Volume at 35 to start, later you can turn it up if you need to. I would turn off the Reverb and Compression unless you just like their sound or something because you have better available in the channels.
Now that you have your drums set up you can put patterns in you Midi track and they will play.
Close the SI-Drum window.
Near the top on the right click on the Media Tab.
Then Midi Groove Clips/Groove Monkey/Rock. You could choose any of the others but Groove monkey is a good start.
Now you should see all the Midi patterns. You can drag and drop them into your SI-Drum Kit track and they will play.
You can grab the edge and drag the pattern out as long as you like. It will just keep repeating itself. Not very creative but it’s a good way to start a scratch track so you can do some quick recording. Then you can make a better pattern later.
You can also mix and match any of the patterns and build a pretty decent drum track for your demo.
If you want to get more detailed you can open Piano Roll View and edit every single drum strike if you like. Right click on the track and then View/Piano Roll View.
And there you go, instant drummer. That should be enough to get you started but if you have any questions please ask.
If you’re not hearing anything check to make sure your output in the master Bus is routed to the right audio device. Unfortunately it won’t be the same as mine so you’ll have to look around a little.
Good luck and watch the video too How to Set Up and Use Session Drummer
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time.