Splitting up your MIDI drums

Last updated on 3/31/2016

By Scott R. Garrigus

When composing or recording MIDI drum parts, many times all the instruments end up on the same Track. This is because MIDI drum instruments usually use the same MIDI channel (10 for General MIDI) and are designated by the individual notes played over that channel. But editing drum parts in this way can be difficult. It’s a lot easier when each drum instrument is located on a separate Track.

To extract each drum instrument, each group of notes with the same value must be cut (or copied) and pasted to a new Track. In Cakewalk Pro Audio and Guitar Studio, this is a simple task because these products include a CAL (Cakewalk Application Language) program that automates the process. Here’s how it works:

  1. Select Edit>Run CAL.
  2. Choose the Split Note To Tracks.cal file, and click Open.
  3. Enter the number of the Track containing your drum parts. Click OK.
  4. Enter the number of the Track that will contain the first drum part. Click OK. The CAL program will put the data for each drum part into each successive Track after the one you choose. Be sure there isn’t any data in the Track that you choose or the ones after it because the data will be overwritten.
  5. Enter the MIDI channel you want to use. More than likely that will be 10. Click OK.
  6. Enter the MIDI port you want to use. Click OK.

The program will then remove the drum parts from the source Track and split it into separate Tracks. The only thing left for you to do is assign appropriate names to the Tracks.

Home Studio users aren’t quite so lucky. With Home Studio, the process has to be performed manually. Following these steps will do the trick:

  1. Open the Track containing your drum parts in the Piano Roll View.
  2. Select the first group of notes pertaining to a single drum part by clicking on the appropriate pitch in the Keyboard pane. For example, to select all the C3 notes, click on C3 in the Keyboard pane.
  3. Select Edit>Cut. Activate the Events In Tracks option, and click OK.
  4. In the Piano Roll View, check to see at what start time the first note in the group that you selected resides. You’ll need this for the next step. For example, if the first note resides at the beginning of measure 3, the start time would be 3:01:000 (measure 3, beat 1, tick 0).
  5. Select Edit>Paste. Enter the start time you obtained in step 4 into the Starting At Time field. In the Starting At Track field, enter the number of the new Track into which you would like to put the drum part you copied in step 3. Click OK.
  6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 for each group of notes in your initial drum parts track.

When you are finished, enter names for each of the new tracks that you created, and feel free to delete your initial drum parts track since it should now be empty. Now you can edit and process each of your drum parts with ease.

Scott R. Garrigus is the author of Cakewalk Power! and the publisher of the DigiFreq music technology newsletter. Learn about more cool tips and techniques for your music software by getting a FREE subscription to DigiFreq.

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