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Topic: Drum Roll (Read 4846 times) previous topic - next topic

Drum Roll
I use Hybrid's sound fonts and with hundreds of drum fonts I can't find a single one of them with a "drum roll" font in low 'f'.  Could someone please point me precisely to a font which contains one....I am tired of this crappy sounding timpani roll........
And by the way, for the record, there IS NO WAY to make a realistic sounding drum roll using 32nd notes or triplets....sounds like a robot beating rapidly on my head!

Re: Drum Roll
Reply #1
Have you tried varying the individual note velocities?

Re: Drum Roll
Reply #2
If you cannot imagine what an authentic drum roll sounds like, in terms of note duration and velocity (or, loudness), try this: Find a drum roll that you like, as an audio file (wav or mp3 or whatever). Get an audio editor (such as the free Audacity from and look at how the thumps are played. Once you get an idea, you can adjust the properties of the notes in NWC so that MIDI output sounds good.

Re: Drum Roll
Reply #3
Varying velocity is only one issue...there is also the fact that rapidly succeeding notes in a drum roll favor the attack over the sustain.  The result is a loss of the sort of 'mush' that accompanies a natural drum roll...all you hear are attacks and no warmth...changing velocities and durations etc doesn't change the way the attack always overrides the susatain of the previous note.........

Re: Drum Roll
Reply #4
This is purely of the top of my head.  (Since my wife just gave me a haircut there isn't much there.)

Assume that the drum roll can be expressed as 1/32 notes.  Would you get a better sounding result if you used two staves with 1/16 notes, with one having a leading 1/32 rest?  This would correspond to a pair of sticks alternating, with the sustain for one overlapping the attack of the other.

Modify for whatever duration sounds best.

I haven't tried it, but it might give a better sound.


Re: Drum Roll
Reply #5
I see what you mean. One possibility is that the MIDI output from NWC tells your sound card to abruptly stop each note when the next is encountered. The other possibility is that the sound card does that by itself.

Have you considered using 2 drum staves, with staggered timing? That is, instead of one staff with notes (N) as:


You have 2 staves with notes as:


Where N- represents a note a double duration. You would have to use 2 staves because note position determines which percussion instrument is used.

That would be for playback. For printing, you would use a single staff with N notes.

Re: Drum Roll
Reply #6
What timeing!  Less than four minutes apart!

Re: Drum Roll
Reply #7
Well, four and a half, but who's counting?

Re: Drum Roll
Reply #8
Great minds think alike.

Re: Drum Roll
Reply #9
With timp rolls, someone, I can't remember who, suggested using two notes a tone or semitone apart rather than one repeated at constant pitch.  I have experimented with that and also combined it with overlapping and offsetting the individual beats and have added slurs or tenuto marks.  On my soundcard at least I found some combinations produce a better representation of a roll.  The "best" combinations seem to depend on the speed/loudness/pitch of the roll so it is difficult to give precise instructions.

For drum rolls, perhaps using two different drums with the individual beats offset might offer some improvements.


Re: Drum Roll
Reply #10
Thinking about it (you can see I was never an experimentalist -- why try something if you can think about it) the overlapping staves will probably only work on instruments that are not on channel 10, such as timpani.  The problem is that even if you use two staves for a channel 10 drum you are using the same channel.  If my understanding of MIDI is any approximation of the truth that means that the "stop" command from staff one will effect the "note" which is sounding from staff two, as they are on the same channel.  So the result will be identical to a single staff with non-overlapped notes.

With timpani, on the other hand, the two staves can be assigned different channels (assuming you have two free ones), and the MIDI "start" and "stop" commands will be independent.  Oh, and yes, I know that NWC/P doesn't send "stop" commands, just "start" with zero velocity/volumn/what-have-you.

Would one of the MIDI-mavens care to comment?

Re: Drum Roll
Reply #11
While you await a reply from one of the MIDI mavens (not I), there is a way of overlapping channel 10, if the end product is to be audio (rather than MIDI).

Using double-duration noes as described above: You can export the channel 10 sound, or one of its components, as MIDI. Then, record it to WAV using methods described elsewhere on this forum. Then, export the whole file as MIDI and record it to WAV. Finally, use an audio editor to mix down the tracks, with the necessary timing offset.

Sounds hard to do, but in fact is easy.

Re: Drum Roll
Reply #12
Not knowing for sure what a maven is, I won't admit to being one. But on the midi question - there are a couple aspects to it.

First is that behaviour of polyphony is a property of the synth, not of the midi protocol. Midi just sends Note on/off pairs; it's up the synth to interpret them. The better synths with true polyphony will use a FIFO (first in, first out) approach, so that multiple instances of the same note will indeed sound independantly. This will be turned off in the same sequence they were originally turned on. But cheaper soundcard synths will turn off all instances of a given note with the next note-off.

The other thing is that the percussion channel is usually handled differently from the other channels. Again, implementation varies, but most better synths try to make the percussion fit the instrument. For instance, a crash cymbal, once struck, will continue to ring even if you send a Note Off. (This means that if you want to achieve the effect of grabbing the cymbal to mute it, you have to use a volume or expression controller on the entire channel.) What's more, the cymbal will of course continue to sound if you hit a bass or snare drum. But if you hit the cymbal again, it stops the original sound and starts a new one instance.

I couldn't hear a difference on my XG system between a drum roll done the easy way, and one done with the alternating staves trick. The sound was identical because each Note-On restarts the sound sample, independantly of Note-Off.

Some instrument sounds are in pairs; the most notable is open and closed high-hat. In better synths, these sounds are mutually exclusive, just as they are in real life. Same with muted vs normal congas, ride vs ride bell, etc. But of course a high-hat sound can be concurrent with a crash or ride cymbal, etc.

Re: Drum Roll
Reply #13
Thanks, Fred.

Mavin [note the correct spelling]:

An expert; a really knowledgeable person; a good judge of quality; a connoisseur.  Examples:
"He's a mavin on Mozart."
"Are you a real mavin?"
"Don't buy it until you get the advice of a mavin."

From "The Joys of Yiddish" by Leo Rosten

So, I would say that Fred is a midi-mavin -- as well as a rather long list of other kinds of mavin.


Re: Drum Roll
Reply #14
With timp rolls, someone, I can't remember who, suggested using two notes a tone or semitone apart rather than one repeated at constant pitch.
Don't do that!  It makes the timpani sound out of tune (on every sound card I have ever heard)!
Want it to sound more realistic?  Use the sustain pedal - it's not just for piano anymore.
Believe it or not, it works well (at least on my current sound card) on channel 10 also.