How to Program Drums in Reaper?

It is pretty understandable that when starting off, programing drums in a reaper or any DAW software to produce your tracks can look complicated and challenging. However, it is not as complex as it may seem once you are aware of the steps you must follow to program it. This guide will give you a brief overview of all the steps you must follow in order to achieve this goal- starting from the beginning where you open a blank project in your reaper to program the initial track. You should find the following guide as a useful cheat sheet when trying to create your first production.  We will guide you step by step to program drums in reaper.

You can also read: How to Record Drums with One Mic?

Steps to Program Drums in Reaper

Let us begin with the step wise description of each of the parts in the journey of being able to program drums using the reaper.

Step 1

Begin your project starting with a new blank project in the Reaper.

Step 2

Move on to the ‘View’ tab in the Menu bar. Hover to the option of Virtual MIDI Keyboard. Alternatively you can also use the option of Alt + B to access this virtual MIDI keyboard. You need to click on this option. 

Step 3

Upon doing so, a new window pops up called the Metronome and pre-roll settings. In this window, you should enable the metronome and set up, by right clicking on the metronome button. For setting up, you need to check some of the checkboxes.

These boxes are: ‘Run metronome during recording’ and ‘Court-in before recording’. You must remember to unselect all the other checkboxes. 

Step 4

Next, you should move on to the ‘Insert’ tab in the Menu bar and select ‘Virtual Instrument on New Track’. Go to ‘Instruments’ among the menus in the window that pops up and select ‘DXi: Cakewalk TTS- 1’. Close the box by clicking the ‘Ok’ button below. 

Step 5

The red button in this option should be lit up. You can then click right to reach the menu below. The following options must be ticked or checked: ‘Monitor input’, ‘Record input’ and ‘Input MIDI’.

You, following this, need to hover your mouse to the option ‘Record MIDI overdub/ replace’. This will provide you with some more options. In this step, select the option that reads, ‘Record: MIDI overdub’.

Step 6

Try to check if the virtual background is working by pressing a few keys. 

Step 7

Next, you have to select a 4- bar section. You have to click and drag in order to select the 4- bar section.

Step 8

In this step, you should ensure that the repeat button is pressed. You can do this by clicking the button to highlight it to green.

Step 9

Next, you need to press the record button or just choose to opt for the option of CTRL + R. Follow this by clicking on the keyboard in order to focus on this part of the transport during the 2-bar count-in phase. This will also the recording to start.

Step 10

At this stage, you must double click on the track, after you have recorded some of the events in order to open up the piano roll view.

Step 11

This is the point where you should choose the ‘View’ option from the menu bar. You must make sure that the ‘Mode: named notes’ is selected. Then, hover your mouse over the option that says ‘Piano roll notes’.

This will introduce a new set of menus. From the options portrayed, you can check the two options, ‘Diamonds (drum mode)’, or click Alt + 7, and the ‘Show velocity handles on notes’ or click Alt + 9.

This step is essential for the editing phase of the drum. You need to make sure you are allowing the notes to be displayed as Diamonds or as Triangles, whichever suits your needs. 

Step 12

Next, you need to make use of the MIDI filter button to check the Channel 10. You must only be drawing notes on the drumming channel. Otherwise, you might end up hearing sounds from the wrong instrument.

This option to check the ‘10’ is available in the Filter Events window that pops up under the MIDI take: Cakewalk TTS-1 menu. 

Step 13

As the 13th step, you can download the text file named GM2 Drum Map. When you want to customize the names of the notes, you can do that from the ‘File’ menu, by selecting ‘Customize notes names’, and eventually clicking ‘ Load note names from file…’. You can then import the names as you desire.

Step 14

This is the step where you should start to quantize the beats which have been recorded. This can be done in a few more steps. First, you have to press the ‘Q’ button which is known as the ‘Quantize’ Button. This will open the window called ‘Quantized Events’.

You can then check the box which says ‘Bypass’. Next, you should choose if you want ‘All notes’ or ‘Selected Notes’ to be quantized. This step can be concluded by clicking the OK button. 

Step 15

Next, you should hold the CTRL key down, and click on the alternate beats to be able to select them. This is then followed by dragging them to the level of the ‘Snare Drum’ as depicted in the side menu. 

Step 16

As the final step, all you are left to do is to record more drums on the existing tracks that you have just created. Alternatively, you can also choose to use a pencil tool and follow this by double clicking on the grid to manually draw them separately. 

Concluding Remarks

You are now well-equipped with all the required knowledge and educated about the steps you need to follow to program your drum using the reaper. You may also try this using other DAW software. You will no longer have to fear the action.

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