Multisampler-Zones_C1

Create Tracktion Waveform Multisampler Drums With Audio Sample Files

In this post, we’ll be learning how to create Tracktion Waveform Multisampler drums with audio sample files. Whether you want to make a quick set of drums, or delve deeper into using multi-velocity drum hits, Waveform’s Multisampler will help you make your own re-usable drum kit for your productions. Let’s get started making a custom starter drum kit now in Tracktion Waveform 11 Pro.

29 July 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Skill Level: Advanced

Creating Your Own Sampled Custom Drum Kit

You may have asked yourself if it is worth the time and effort to create a drum kit in a software sampler. I know I did. Looking at the cost of the big virtual drum plug-in developers’ products, I decided it was better for me and my budget to learn how to use the Multisampler component available in Tracktion Waveform 11 Pro to make use of the tons of drum kit audio samples I already own.

In all fairness, follow this tutorial’s steps with some confidence, but be open to change. There is not a lot of documentation or other information about Waveform’s Multisampler tool. I pieced together what I considered to be the “right way” based on other samplers I have used, but I may have done things inefficiently. Or maybe I was misguided and there’s a better, faster and more correct way. In any event, if there’s something you find that makes it better for us all, please let me know in the comments.

I’m using Tracktion Waveform 11 Pro as my DAW. This tutorial is a basic approach to creating a starter Multisampler instrument. Feel free to use whatever drum kit samples you have on-hand. If you need samples, do a web search to find some free ones that can help you learn. Hopefully at the end of the tutorial, you’ll have a custom Waveform 11 Pro drum kit that you can use over and over again.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Steps to Create Tracktion Waveform Multisampler Drums

  1. Create a new project in Waveform 11 Pro.
  2. On an empty track, drag a plug-in instance and choose Waveform Plugins>Instruments>Multi Sampler. The Multisampler window will appear on the SOUND tab.Multisampler-Initial_Window
  3. We’ll add some kick drum samples and assign them to key C1, the MIDI default for a kick drum instrument. From your storage location, drag your kick drum samples into the left-hand side pane.Multisampler-Dropped_Samples
  4. Let’s adjust the duration of all of the samples’ playback next. Select all samples by clicking your first sample, hold the Shift key, and click the last sample. Then in the center of the screen, where the box shows some lines with circles and squares, drag the topmost square all the way to the right as far as it will go. Repeat this action for the bottom rightmost square.Multisampler-Samples_Playback_Duration
  5. Now let’s assign the samples to their key and velocity ranges. Click the “ZONES” heading in the top center of the screen. The zone editor will appear and show a large keyboard with the range the samples are initially assigned. Looking at the image, the range of the mapping is large and not correct since it spans multiple octaves on the keyboard. We’re going to limit these four (4) samples I have to one (1) key, C1. In addition, these samples represent four (4) ranges of hit velocities, so we’ll end up stacking them vertically on the C1 key.Multisampler-Zones_Initial
  6. Let’s limit the range to one key, the C1. At the top of the screen, change all letter and number combinations to “C1”. Leave the zero (0) and One Hundred Twenty Seven (127) as is for now. If you click on the C1 key, highlighted in blue color, you should hear your sample play.Multisampler-Zones_C1
  7. Now that we’ve limited the samples to the correct keyboard key, we need to adjust the MIDI velocities to respond to differing key press intensities, known as velocities. These values help to give the MIDI playback a more human feel and will play louder at higher values and softer at lower values. Since I have four (4) samples, my velocity ranges will be as follows: 0-31, 32-64, 65-97 and 98-127. Note that the range for MIDI velocities is zero (0) to one hundred and twenty seven (127), giving us one hundred and twenty eight (128) possible values.
  8. I’ll select my first sample, which needs to be mapped to C1, range zero (0) to thirty one (31). See the image for the updated values and the change in the samples’ display. The region at the bottom of the samples’ stack is brighter blue now to represent the 0 – 31 mapping. I’ll repeat this step for each sample, assigning it to the ranges I previously specified.Multisampler-Zones_First_Map
  9. Here is my completed mapping with the four (4) sample layers mapped to their velocity ranges. You should be able to see the division lines between the samples and recognize that this C1 key has multiple samples assigned to it. Verify your mapping by clicking the C1 key with your mouse. You should hear your hardest velocity sample play.Multisampler-Zones_C1_Complete
  10. Before we map any other drum kit pieces, let’s make a MIDI clip on our track and make sure the kick drum is responding properly to multiple velocities. Save your Edit and close the Multisampler screen for now.
  11. Drag a new clip from the red Plus button onto the track and chooce Insert New MIDI Clip. You should get a one-bar clip by default, which is enough for our velocity test. Double-click the clip and the piano roll editor will appear. Scroll down to the C1 range and click the C1 key with your mouse. You’ll hear your kick drum sample play.Multisampler-Piano_Roll
  12. Now add some sixteenth notes to the clip on key C1 and press the spacebar. You should hear your kick drum playing, but all notes are playing at the same velocity, which is what we want to vary since we added multiple samples. For each beat’s notes, change them to fall into the four (4) velocity ranges you set up. My first group of notes are set to twenty-two (22) for the velocity. The lines under the piano roll represent the velocity values. You can see that my first group is low, the second beat’s notes are higher, and so on up to the fourth beat. Set your velocities and press the spacebar again. Now you should hear variations in the loudness and intensities of the notes while they are playing. Note that you can also click the C1 key from left to right, and as you move in either direction, the sample played back will represent the mapped velocity layers. Clicking far right equals the maximum velocity, clicking far left equals the minimum velocity.Multisampler-Piano_Roll_Velocities_Set
  13. Save your kit and continue mapping each drum kit instrument, one at a time, and verify they are working before moving to the next piece. I recommend referring to the general MIDI standard specification for mapping your drum kits so that playback is expected and correct when playing MIDI files created by others.
  14. After you get your entire kit working properly, and you’ve saved your sampler instrument, make it into a Waveform preset. The preset will be stored at “C:\Users\{YOUR_USER_NAME_HERE}\AppData\Roaming\Tracktion\Waveform\Presets” in Windows 10.

Summary

Now that you have a basic kit with a few various hit velocities per instrument, you’ll probably want to set up several Tracktion Waveform Multisampler drums to use in different projects or styles of music. You can look into buying more one-hits or multi-velocity hits as well to try to get your acoustic drums sounding like a human player versus a software sequencer’s output.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

Similar Drum Sampler Articles I’ve Written

NP-after-syntax_WM

Text Editor Syntax Highlighting for Sforzando Instrument Files

In this post, we’ll learn how to configure text editor syntax highlighting for Sforzando instrument files with a few different text editor tools. Whether you use Mac, Windows or both, the editors and configurations will help you view your Sforzando instrument files with enhanced clarity. Why feel stuck with a common white background and black text when you can use these enhancements to add color and formatting to your text? Let’s get started!

19 June 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Skill Level: Intermediate

Choosing a Text Editor for Sforzando File

For the text editor software we’ll discuss, please note that all of the editors are cross-platform, except Notepad++ which is Windows-only. I included Notepad++ primarily because I have used it the most in my work life in an all-Windows environment. It’s well-supported and a preferred choice of other programmers like me while working in Windows.

At home I use mostly Mac for music production work, but there are times I am booted into Windows to use some specific software. While in Windows, I will sometimes work on my music and I need a text editor that supports both Windows and Mac. This post will show some of the recommended text editors that feature syntax highlighting additions regardless of your operating system environment.

The features we need to edit Sforzando instrument files are minimal, so feel free to try any or all of the suggestions I list in this article.

For file storage, I am keeping the text files on a cloud server that allows access from either Mac or Windows. You can use whichever service you like to store on the cloud, or keep your text files on an external drive. Whatever works for your workflow is good, just be sure that you can access the files when and where you need them.

This post is a tribute to the struggles I faced in figuring out how to get syntax highlighting working correctly for multiple editors in two operating systems. It will serve as a reference point for all of us moving forward.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

  • A text editor for your computer
  • A language definition file for your text editor
  • A great sample SFZ file from sfzformat.com to verify your language definition is working properly. Download the sample and save to your computer.

Download Free Text Editors to Highlight Syntax

Choose a text editor from the programs listed below to download and install it to your computer. You’ll also need the sample SFZ file downloaded as well. After you have installed an editor, we will download the language support files since they are different for each text editor.

Windows-Only

Notepad++ can be downloaded here. I used version 7.8.1 in this article.

Mac and Windows

This group of editors is the purpose for this blog post. I needed to find free and capable text editors that could also be extended to support syntax highlighting in both OSes.

  • Geany is available here. The latest version is 1.36.
  • CudaText is available here. The latest version is 1.105.0 (Win) or 1.99.0 (Mac)

Configuring Notepad++

After you download and install Notepad++, you’ll need to add support for a user-defined language. The language file, which is one *.XML file, is available for download here. Download the “sfz-udl.xml” to your computer. Follow the steps below to get NP++ set up.

  1. Open Notepad++ and load the sample SFZ file. By default, it will show the file contents as plain black text.NP-before-syntax_WM
  2. Click Language>User Defined Language>Define Your Language.
  3. Click the Import button. Navigate to your “sfz-udl.xml” file.
  4. Click OK on the Import Successful dialog window,
  5. Close the Define Your Language screen.
  6. Click the Language menu. At the bottom, click the new entry “SFZ”.
  7. Your SFZ file will now show with the language definition syntax in effect.NP-after-syntax_WM

Configuring Geany

Since Geany works in Mac and Windows, its configuration instructions depend on the operating system you’re using. Note that for either OS, you will need to enable the showing of hidden files and folders to find the Geany configuration locations.

Download the syntax highlighting files here. You’ll need two files: filetype_extensions.conf and filetypes.SFZ.conf. After downloading these files, follow the steps below for your OS.

Mac OS

  1. Open Geany and load the sample SFZ file. By default, it will show the file contents as plain black text.Geany-SFZ_before_Syntax
  2. Close Geany and open a new Finder window.
  3. In Finder, go to your user Home folder.
  4. Press Shift+Command+Period Key to enable the showing of hidden files and folders.
  5. Open the folder “.config/geany”. Place a copy of the downloaded file
    filetype_extensions.conf” into this folder.Finder-conf_Geany_folder_WM
  6. Open the folder “.config/geany/filedefs”. Place a copy of the downloaded file “filetypes.SFZ.conf” into this folder.Finder-SFZ_CONF folder_WM
  7. Open Geany and re-load your sample SFZ file.
  8. Click Document>Set Filetype>Miscellaneous. You will see “SFZ” as an available option. Click “SFZ” to select this language.Geany-Filetype_Menus_WM
  9. Geany will apply the syntax highlighting and you will see that the tags within the sample file have changed colors.Geany-SFZ_after_Syntax_WM

Windows 10

Follow the instructions for Mac as written above, substituting Windows Explorer for Finder to browse for files.

For Step 4, tick the checkbox in the Windows Explorer menu bar to show hidden files.

For Step 5, copy “filetype_extensions.conf” to folder C:\Users\{USER_NAME}\AppData\Roaming\geany.

For Step 6, copy “filetypes.SFZ.conf” to C:\Users\{USER_NAME}\AppData\Roaming\geany\filedefs

Configuring CudaText

CudaText works the same in Mac and Windows for importing language support. CudaText’s approach to importing the language definition files is as easy as File>Open and selecting the file to load. There is no need to show/hide folders or manually copy files. Great job on this type of easy implementation, CudaText developers.

  1. Unzip program file to location of your choice
  2. Run CudaText and load your sample SFZ file. As shown, it’s just black text.CudaText-SFZ_before_Syntax_WM
  3. Use File>Open file to open the SFZ Lexer file. When prompted to install it, click OK. Click OK again after the installation completes.
  4. Click View>Lexers and scroll down in the list to select “SFZ”. Your text should automatically show syntax highlighting.CudaText-SFZ_after_Syntax_WM

Summary

Thanks to some great developers, there are several free text editors available that support syntax highlighting of Sforzando instrument files. Adding syntax highlights makes the job of editing text configuration files much easier. With some advanced skills, you can customize the language definitions to your own liking to really make the color schemes work for your own preferences. In addition, these cross-platform editors, along with a centralized storage area, make it much easier to work in Windows and Mac when the need arises.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

Notepad-SFZ_Kick_and_Snare

Create a Custom Sforzando Drum Kit Instrument With Samples

In this post, we’ll learn how to create a custom Sforzando drum kit for use in your DAW projects. Sforzando is an open-source sampler that uses a file-driven configuration to play your audio samples for MIDI files. While it may not be usable for every music producer out there, it can be an invaluable tool in creating virtual instruments with custom audio samples. Let’s get started making a basic, reusable, custom drum kit now in Tracktion Waveform 11 Free.

11 June 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Skill Level: Advanced

Creating Your Own Inexpensive Drum Kit

You may have asked yourself if it is worth the time and effort to create a drum kit in an open source plug-in. I know I did. Looking at the cost of the big virtual drum plug-in developers’ products, I decided it was better for me and my budget to learn how to use the free Sforzando to make use of the tons of drum kit audio samples I already own. It’s free, well-supported and has a large user base. There are plenty of videos available on YouTube and getting started was easy enough,

As we move forward in this tutorial, please keep in mind that there may be better, faster or smarter ways to work in Sforzando. I am a guitar player, not a drummer, and I need seriously great-sounding drums for my own artistic expressions. The drum samples I have are great quality and I wanted to be able to integrate them into both a Windows and a Mac world due to the computers I compose on. Sforzando seemed like a great choice and hopefully it can work for you too.

I’m using Tracktion Waveform 11 Free as my DAW, so some of this tutorial will be specific to Waveform’s ways and configurations. Other DAWs may require you to figure out your own path. Hopefully at the end of the tutorial, You’ll have a custom Sforzando drum kit that you can use over and over again.

This tutorial is a basic approach to creating a starter Sforzando instrument. There is so much more that can be done within Sforzando, such as simultaneously playing multiple samples, creating groups that play random samples to vary your playback and controlling your output with its knobs and effects. And also be aware that there seems to be many, many different ways to structure your SFZ configuration files and still produce audio output properly. This tutorial is a minimalist’s experience to get up and running quickly.

The key with Sforzando, at least for me, is to be flexible and be willing to do some trial-and-error approaches to see what ends up working. After I get something working the way I want, I can copy/paste as needed to move on knowing things will work. Another benefit to the file configuration model is that you can copy an entire SFZ, rename it and change your samples and be ready to go with a whole new kit with different sample files.

Getting Started with Sforzando

Your SFZ file will contain all of the configuration of your kit’s samples and parameters that control its function. Once you have your kit’s SFZ file saved, you’re able to reuse the kit any time you like. Save your completed SFZ files somewhere safe so you don’t lose your time and efforts.

To begin, you’ll neeed to create a new, basic sfz file. Follow the steps here at sfzformat.com. Save this file on your local machine so that you can use it to start making your instrument. You’ll also need to download the drum kit samples and place them into the same folder that holds your SFZ file. After you learn to configure Sforzando, you can move your files to another location that suits your needs.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Recommended Reading

Steps to Create Your Custom Sforzando Drum Kit

  1. Create a new project in Waveform.
  2. On an empty track, create an instance of the Sforzando plug-in
  3. Create a new basic SFZ file for a starting point, supposing that you don’t have one already. Follow the steps here at sfzformat.com. When you’ve completed the file, save it to your machine and then drag/drop it onto the Sforzando window. Ignore any errors you may receive.
  4. After Sforzando loads your sfz file, you should see a screen similar to this one. From here you will see your loaded file name at the top of the screen, and you’ll have a button near the bottom of the screen to open your file for edits. I associated Notepad++ to open *.sfz files to make editing easy.Sforzando-Basic_File_Loaded_WM
  5. Download the EasyRider drum kit from the link in the Getting Started section of this tutorial. Place the extracted folders into the same folder that contains your SFZ file.
  6. Open your SFZ file and make two <group> sections. One will define the kick drum. The other will define the snare drum. Refer to this image for the text entries needed in your SFZ file. Set your sample path as required so that Sforzando can find your samples. If the path is not correct, Sforzando will display error details.Notepad-SFZ_Kick_and_Snare
  7. Drop a drum MIDI file onto your Waveform track, or create a new MIDI clip and add some kick and snare MIDI notes.
  8. Press Play on your transport. If all went well, you will hear your kick drum and your snare drum playing the MIDI notes.
  9. Continue creating your <group> sections for each of the pieces of your drum kit and map the samples.

Where To Go From Here

Now that you have a basic kit with a few various hit velocities per instrument, you’ll want to look into implementing a round robin and/or random sample playback approach to really vary your playback audio. In addition, take some time to look into samples that include files for room microphones that open up your sound with real room dynamics.

Summary

Congratulations on making your first custom Sforzando drum kit. Thanks to Michael Kingston for making his EasyRider kit available for free so that we could learn how to play them in Sforzando.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

TX16Wx_Full_Custom_Kit

Create a TX16Wx Sampler Drum Kit in Tracktion Waveform

In this post, we’ll learn how to use a free sampler plug-in from CWITECH to create a custom drum kit with audio samples. Creating your own drum kit to play MIDI parts allows you to have creative control over your kit’s component sounds and can allow you to develop a reusable signature sound for your productions. Let’s get started to create a TX16Wx sampler drum kit in Tracktion Waveform 11 Free.

09 June 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Skill Level: Intermediate

What is a Sampler?

At a high level, software audio samplers allow you to define your own virtual instruments. You can assign specific audio sample files to a MIDI keyboard mapping so that the keyboard plays that audio sound when the keyboard key is pressed. Your mappings can be simple, with one audio sample assigned to one key. Or, for the advanced user, multiple samples can be assigned to one key at various velocities or to just blend multiple audio samples together. Samplers are a great tool to create new, unexpected and unique sounds.

Virtual Drum Kits and Samplers

If you have ever used a virtual drum kit, like MT Power Drumkit, you’ll quickly recognize sampling in action. When using the plug-in, your MIDI notes are automatically rendered as drum kit pieces’ audio. Standard MIDI mappings help to ensure that drum kit components are used as expected so your output audio is rendered as expected. Using a virtual drum kit is easy for many people because the mappings are already present and you can just drop it into your project and render your drum parts.

In contrast to drum plug-ins, samplers are very manual by nature and require time to set up and mapping audio samples to keys. Fortunately, most allow you to save your layouts for easy re-use in the future. Be aware that creating your own sampled drum kit can be very satisfying, but there is time spent on building, testing and tweaking until it’s ready for instant re-use. Your rendered audio will be as good as the quality of the audio samples you use.

Multi-velocity Hits Make Sampled Drums Sound Better

Now that we’ve briefly covered what a sampler is used for, and contrasted how it’s similar to a pre-made virtual drum kit plug-in, let’s talk about audio samples. The quality of your audio sample files is extremely important. If you are looking to really make your sampler sound like a convincing acoustic drum kit, you’ll need high-quality samples and samples made available for multi-velocity hits.

MIDI allows for the specification of note hit strength from zero (0) to one-hundred and twenty-seven (127). If you set all of your samples to trigger at the same velocity, say 127, it will be the loudest representation of the sample and it will sound like a machine is playing the part. There will not be any natural variation in the hit strengths and it will sound very tedious to the listener.

By setting variable MIDI velocities, we can tell the sampler to play specific files at a velocity value, or for a range of velocity values. For example, say we have four (4) multi-hit samples for a snare drum. We can tell the sampler for velocity twenty (20) to forty (40) to play “snare_hit_light.wav”. Then for ranges forty-one (41) to sixty-four (64), we tell it to play “snare_hit_medium.wav”. Hopefully. You can see that we are now alternating between two (2) different samples based on the MIDI notes’ hit strength. After we map our remaining four (4) samples, our snare will sound much more varied than using one (1) sample for all velocities.

Some audio sample producers provide a free set of samples, usually with one hit per instrument. In my experience, quality kits that require payment contain multi-hit files, some with eight (8) or more velocities per instrument. Be certain to investigate your drum audio samples before spending money to make sure that there are multi-velocity hit samples and that the files are in a non-lossy format, like WAV or AIFF.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Disclaimer

I have limited experience with sampler software. This tutorial is the result of me searching, struggling, cursing and finally coming up with a free, working, repeatable solution. If there is anyone who can recommend easier, better or faster, I am proverbially all ears. I welcome any constructive feedback that can help us all get there better and faster.

Finally, the steps in this tutorial will produce a full drum kit, however it will be a stereo (Left and Right) output of all sounds combined. While this will probably work for a majority of people, if you want to split the outputs onto separate channels, you’ll need to do research how to do that on your own. It also does not use multiple velocity groups or any sort of round-robin to randomly select samples from groups.

Steps to Create a TX16Wx Sampler Drum Kit

  1. Install the CWITECH TX16Wx sampler on your computer with its installer.
  2. Create a new Waveform 11 project.
  3. Create a new track and name it “TW16wX_Drum_Sampler”.
  4. Add a drum kit MIDI pattern or file onto the track. It should have multiple kit instruments within the pattern.
  5. Add an instance of the TX16Wx plug-in to the track. Your project should look similar to this image.Waveform11-TX16Wx_Track
  6. Open the sampler plug-in you added to the track. We need to set a few properties and save it. First, change the Midi value to “Omni”. Second, name your program. I called mine “Myersclan_Kit”. Finally, click the Save Program As button and choose a location on your computer. I recommend storing it in your Waveform project folder so it stays with the other project files.Waveform11-TX16Wx_Initial_Config
  7. Let’s create our kick drum trigger in the sampler. Click the Regions button located below the Save Program As button you previously clicked.
  8. The regions view will show a piano keyboard and a screen with grid lines.Waveform11-TX16Wx_Empty_Regions
  9. Click the New Region button. By default, the region fills the entire grid with a green colored fill. Resize the green area to fit on the C2 keyboard key only. You can verify the C2 area by looking at the LO K and Hi K values under the grid.TX16Wx_Create_New_Region
  10. To the right of the Create New Region button, click the button that looks like it has six (6) small squares on it. This enables velocity layers when we drop our audio samples in an upcoming step.
  11. In a separate file explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac) window, open the folder that contains your kick drum samples. We are going to drag and drop them onto the Regions screen on the C2 key.
  12. Select your kick drum sample(s) and drag them to the Regions window and drop them on the C2 key. You may need to resize and re-order them. For my Manic Metal samples, I have four (4) kick drum samples, named KickV1, KickV2, KickV3 and KickV4.
  13. Under the piano keys, the grid contains rows for each sample and its mapping. Edit/Configure yours similar to mine, but factor in differences like the total number of samples you are using. Since I used four (4) samples, I divided the one-hundred twenty-eight (128) possible velocities by four(4) to get thirty-two (32) hit values per group. Use the Lo V and Hi V values to specify the range starts and ends.TX16Wx_Kick_Samples_Dropped
  14. Test your configuration by using your mouse to click on the C2 piano keyboard key. You should hear your kick drum sound play back. If so, you’re ready to move on.
  15. Optionally, depending on the samples, you may need to adjust the tails of the audio samples so they play fully. Click the Sounds button near the top of your kit. At the bottom of the screen, a blue section will appear. To adjust the tails, click the round markers and drag them to the right-hand side. The longer the blue bar, the longer the sample plays.TX16Wx_Kick_Samples_Tails
  16. Return to the top of the screen and click the Save button to store your changes.
  17. In Waveform, play your track. You should hear only kick drums at this point.
  18. Now for the work involved with sampling – repeat this Key assignment process for each of your kit’s pieces by adding samples for them to their key assignments. Refer to the general MIDI recommendations for drum key assignments to keep your kit standard. Here’s the final kit image of my complete drum kit.TX16Wx_Full_Custom_Kit

Where To Go From Here

With some additional effort, you can modify the configuration of your sampler instrument’s pieces to output audio to dedicated channels instead of the standard combined 1/2 output that was presented here. Some folks want to have fine-grained control of the audio outputs they configure for their projects, and that is a definite possibility with some TX16Wx configuration. Just be aware that the sampler does have a limit on output channel pairs in the free version.

Summary

Setting up a software sampler is a great way to make a drum kit that defines your personal style. You can combine one or more samples to really create new and unusual sounding kits, or you can aim to make a really convincing kit that may sound divine on your final track. Either way, you have the power and choices to drive how your TX16Wx Sampler drum kit will sound.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.