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  • Drumming with MIDI

    Thanks to this forum, I got big props from my daughter for sorting out her missing amp. Little did she know that I'm just trying to keep from going broke supporting her art. I got an old computer set up with an internal sound card. From what I've been told, the sound card is DMA capable and plays MIDI so it will have low latency. I don't know exactly what this means but I think it's good. On the computer, the sound card has a MIDI port. Is this port both an input and an output?

    I need to know this because the "right" cable is $50 and has both standard MIDI ins and outs with a 15pin computer MIDI. I don't want to waste money on something that won't work but the huge library of MIDI drum patterns and the ease of working with them makes this look like the way to go. For the same $50, I could probably pick up an SDRUM or similar drum beat maker and lose the computer. Which is the best way to get decent drums without a drummer?

  • #2
    MIDI or Musical Instrument Digital Interface is a control method. It deals with control information and not the actual signal itself. MIDI is not normally bi-directional. A MIDI jack will normally be an input or an output and not both. There is often also a "thru" for routing to multiple devices. MIDI control will control note information, patch changes, etc. I'm not exactly sure by your question what your intent is. If you could more specifically explain what it is you're after, it might be easier to give you answers. If she just wants to practice with drums, the cheapest/easiest option might be to run the computer as a drum machine using it's own speakers and the guitar rig separately.
    "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

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    • #3
      The 15-pin "game port" on an old sound card does carry both MIDI in and out, but Windows support for that port ended with Vista, and $50 is much more than you should have to spend for the MIDI breakout cable. If all you want to do though, is to play MIDI drum patterns on the computer, you don't need a MIDI interface at all unless you have some kind of external MIDI synth or sound module that you intend to use to produce the drum sounds.
      -tb

      "If you're the only person I irritate with my choice of words today I'll be surprised" Chuck H.

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      • #4
        Before spending so much for an obsolete connector, You should consider looking for a used small control surface that interfaces with USB. I see them selling frequently for about the same price as your cable.
        Here's an online drum machine that You can program DIY.
        https://drumbit.app/

        PS- Do a search for free sequencers.
        Last edited by John_H; 09-05-2018, 12:56 AM. Reason: additional info

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        • #5
          Oh! That's quick and easy, John. I hadn't seen that before. Thanks for the link!
          "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by The Dude View Post
            Oh! That's quick and easy, John. I hadn't seen that before. Thanks for the link!
            i used to get the old rockband drumset and set it up with a computer and the kids would play on it.https://www.wikihow.com/Play-Rock-Band-Drums-on-Your-PC
            nosaj
            Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by tboy
              The 15-pin "game port" on an old sound card does carry both MIDI in and out, but Windows support for that port ended with Vista, and $50 is much more than you should have to spend for the MIDI breakout cable. If all you want to do though, is to play MIDI drum patterns on the computer, you don't need a MIDI interface at all unless you have some kind of external MIDI synth or sound module that you intend to use to produce the drum sounds.
              I think Windows 7 still supports the interface in “Compatibility Mode” but Linux is also an option. The way she explained it to me; she will play her strings and sing into the GSP21 which will output MIDI to the computer where she will first store, then compose all the parts. Then she will render the mp3s from the MIDIs and record them.

              Originally posted by John_H
              Before spending so much for an obsolete connector, You should consider looking for a used small control surface that interfaces with USB.
              Research indicates you need a USB 3.0 port and a current computer to get lower latency than an internal card with DMA. That makes the cost much higher than just the interface for equivalent performance. Thanks for the great link.

              Originally posted by nosaj
              i used to get the old rockband drumset and set it up with a computer and the kids would play on it.https://www.wikihow.com/Play-Rock-Band-Drums-on-Your-PC
              Oh no, not another instrument! Even the SDRUM would be a better option than that.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by syzygyn View Post
                ......The way she explained it to me; she will play her strings and sing into the GSP21 which will output MIDI to the computer where she will first store, then compose all the parts. Then she will render the mp3s from the MIDIs and record them......
                If I understand your "flow chart", that won't work. MIDI in/out of the GSP21 (as far as I know) is for program changes, etc. You won't get audio from any MIDI jack. There are some older samplers that do send audio files via MIDI when you do a MIDI sample dump, but that it not MIDI's normal configuration and there isn't audio stored in the GSP21 to dump as far as I know. You'll instead need to send analog audio into the computer's sound card and record it with a program that does multi-tracking to achieve what you're looking for. There is a freeware multi-tracking program called Audacity built for this if you're interested in checking it out. There are many others, but this one is freeware and works pretty well, IMO.

                https://www.audacityteam.org/
                "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

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                • #9
                  MIDI is all digital code. No audio. It tells a sound generator to play whatever notes are assigned. If I plug my MIDI controller into a piano sound module, I get piano sounds. If I plug the exact same MIDI signal into a drum module, I get drum sounds.
                  Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by syzygyn View Post
                    Research indicates you need a USB 3.0 port and a current computer to get lower latency than an internal card with DMA.
                    I think you're confusing MIDI latency here with digital audio latency. Even USB 1 has far more speed than is needed for MIDI data.
                    Last edited by tboy; 09-05-2018, 06:52 AM.
                    -tb

                    "If you're the only person I irritate with my choice of words today I'll be surprised" Chuck H.

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                    • #11
                      I might be confused but if I'm recording and editing in MIDI, there has to be a digital to analog conversion. If the D/A conversion is handled inside the computer box then the latency matters but I don't really know. MIDI is really efficient and small but it can pack lots of information when all its commands are fully supported. Unless I'm misunderstanding what I'm reading, the Digitech processor MIDI is fully implemented and not just a control I/O. If you look in the manual, all the sound parameters have hexidecimal equivalents. From what I've read, the GSP21 will deliver everything about its sound over MIDI when the input is guitar so why wouldn't it be able to do the same thing with a bass or a voice input?
                      Last edited by syzygyn; 09-05-2018, 06:51 PM.

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                      • #12
                        The best analogy I have is MIDI is like the rolls of paper on a player piano. If I invent a player tuba and stick the piano roll into it, it will play the tuba. MIDI is completely digital, it does not send audio. When you have a MIDI keyboard or other controller and press a key, MIDI then transmits: a "note on" signal, the particular note, or really the note number, the velocity. The note itself is not sent, just the instruction to play some note number when it gets to a sound module. And that note over there will continue to sound until a "note off" signal is sent. In other words, if I press a key to get the sound, then as I hold the key down, I unplug the MIDI cord, then at the sound module, it continues to sound even as I release the key. Because the sound module never saw a note off signal.

                        MIDI is a communication protocol between units.

                        If I record a MIDI stream, I can play it back through any MIDI device. I may play on a MIDI piano, and it comes out as piano through a MIDI sound box. But if I play the same MIDI stream into a drum box, it comes out as drum hits. Think of it as sheet music rather than tape recordings.
                        Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                        • #13
                          "If I invent a player tuba"

                          You may be on to something there Enzo.

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                          • #14
                            (Aside)
                            My wife gives out rubber duckies everywhere she goes. Mainly to little kids, and always through their parent. One practical advantage to this is the kid then has a toy and we get a more peaceful meal in a restaurant. But some kids get a rubber duck and they sit there bouncing the duck on the table repeating "duck, duck, duck, duck,..." for a half hour. We snicker. The parents actually 99.9% of the time appreciate the gift, but sometimes the kid chanting "duck" gets old. I often tell them as they pass by, "Hey, we used to hand out tubas."
                            Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by syzygyn View Post
                              I might be confused but if I'm recording and editing in MIDI, there has to be a digital to analog conversion. If the D/A conversion is handled inside the computer box then the latency matters but I don't really know. MIDI is really efficient and small but it can pack lots of information when all its commands are fully supported. Unless I'm misunderstanding what I'm reading, the Digitech processor MIDI is fully implemented and not just a control I/O. If you look in the manual, all the sound parameters have hexidecimal equivalents. From what I've read, the GSP21 will deliver everything about its sound over MIDI when the input is guitar so why wouldn't it be able to do the same thing with a bass or a voice input?
                              What software are you using for recording, and editing? If you're recording guitar somewhere along the signal chain there has to be a A/D converter with an interface to your computer. From there the converted audio can be input into a Digital Audio Workshop, or DAW. The same goes for recording vocals. Neither of these can be converted to midi. However that same DAW can record a midi track that has been processed through a software synthesizer as an audio track into your mix. This can be anything. Whatever instrument/sound you want... I'm not sure where the midi function fits in on the digitech GSP21. GSP stands for guitar signal processor I think. Perhaps you can plug a keyboard into it, or patch a midi track in, and that it acts as a guitar synth that you can plug into an amp while utilizing all of the features of the multi effects board. I'll look for a manual and d/l it.


                              Check out this BB It's a great place to start. They treat noob's nicely. http://homerecording.com/bbs/

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