Percussion On The KeyMusician Keyboard

Percussion on the KeyMusician Keyboard, from the beginning, was problematic.

On the one hand, you have all 47 percussion instruments of the General-MIDI standard, instantly available by pressing its particular keyboard-key, which is a good thing, and makes a very large drum set.

On the other hand, using a typing keyboard (which gives no indication of how hard the key was pressed), leaves you with only the Volume keys (left & right arrow) and Velocity keys (Insert and Delete) for changing the volume.

This allowed only crescendo (gradually louder) and decrescendo (gradually softer) to be done, though you could instantly restore to the original volume using the Home key.

With percussion, individual notes often need to be accented (louder), and you may even alternate between loud and soft drum-hits. This can't be done if the only tool you have is crescendo and decrescendo.

The Dynamics Pad

To overcome this limitation, we developed the Dynamics Pad, which is controlled using the numeric keypad:


Using the numeric keypad, you set the dynamics (loudness) level instantly to the dynamics marking in the music, matching the marking shown on the Dynamics Pad window. These keys (1 through 9) affect the MIDI velocity control (and its slider on the performance pane).

The '5' key (reset) is special, in that it restores the Dynamics Pad to the values present when the performance pane was entered, or that were present the last time the “Save” button of the performance pane was clicked (saving the settings in memory, but not on disk). This key affects both the Velocity slider, and the Volume slider.

The keys on the right-side (“-”, “+”, and “Enter”) and bottom (“0”, and “.”), of the numeric keypad affect the Volume slider.

The Velocity slider changes affect the loudness of all subsequent (future) notes, but not any note currently sounding.

Volume slider changes affect the loudness of any notes currently sounding, as well as subsequent (future) notes. It's like turning up (or down) the volume knob on a radio.

They both affect volume in their own way. Each adds-to (but doesn't cancel) the other.

Any time you are playing the KeyMusician Keyboard, but don't have to play chords, it is useful to show the Dynamics pad window, allowing better control of the loudness (dynamics) of the music you are playing.

You display the Dynamics Pad by clicking (and thereby selecting) the “Dynamics” button on the Chords Pad, changing it to the Dynamics Pad. You click the “Dynamics” button again (de-selecting the toggle-button) to change it back to the Chords Pad.

When playing the Drums performance pane, the Dynamics Pad is almost essential.

With it, you can do expressive drumming – even alternating between loud and soft drum-hits.

The “sfz” (sforzando), “<” (crescendo), and “>” (decrescendo) keys change the volume slider gradually (or quickly) over time as you play, allowing you to do smooth, gradual, volume changes.

The “/” (slow) or “*” (fast) numeric-keypad keys control whether the crescendo and decrescendo changes take place slowly (over 4 seconds) or fast (over two seconds). The sforzando key is always fast (about 1 second duration).

The “0” (louder) and “.” (softer) keys allow you to toggle to a louder, or softer, volume level (while selected). You hit them again to un-toggle them, returning to the former volume level.

Using the Dynamics Pad keys to set the loudness level called-for in the music is much easier than consistently drumming at a certain force on a MIDI drum-pad, in my experience. And you can change them quickly enough to alternate between loud and soft drum-hits (with a little practice).

When you switch to a performance pane with the Dynamics Pad displayed, the dynamics values (Velocity and Volume sliders) are used to select the corresponding keys of the Dynamics Pad window, and are the values returned-to when hitting the reset key.

If you want different values, change them, and then hit the “Save” button of the performance pane, and those new values will be remembered, even if you switch to another pane, and then come back to the pane you changed.

The “Drums” (Percussion) Performance Pane

You play percussion sounds using the “Drums” pane, assuming its MIDI channel is connected to a percussion bank (usually bank 128). The General-MIDI standard says MIDI channel 10 is for percussion, and many synthesizers assume channel 10 is percussion.

The “Drums” performance pane looks something like this:


I have re-sized the window above to make the percussion instrument list more easily readable. The instrument names that appear are those of the General-MIDI (GM) standard.

Though most synthesizers support the General-MIDI standard, not all of them do, in which case the percussion instrument names will not match what you see. You may be able to select the use of General MIDI (GM) by your synthesizer.

The number at the left of each percussion instrument name, is the MIDI note-number used for accessing it. Those note-numbers correspond to black keys as well as white keys (in the keyboard diagram to the right). For your convenience (since the typing-keyboard keys map to white-keys only), each white key has been mapped to its own percussion instrument (appearing to the left of it).

If you play multiple keys at the same time, multiple percussion instruments sound.

When using the FluidR3_GM soundfont (and other soundfonts), there are 6 additional percussion instruments above the ones shown above, and 8 additional percussion instruments below the ones shown above. You can access these additional instruments by setting the “Transpose” button to a lower (such as 9-down) or higher (such as 4-up) value.

Here is a table showing the percussion instruments defined by the General-MIDI standard, including what qwerty-keyboard key you press to play each instrument:

General-MIDI Percussion Instrument Keys

MIDI Note #

MIDI Note Name

MIDI Octave #

KMK qwerty

key

Percussion Instrument Name

82

B

4

`


81

A#

4

1

Open Triangle

80

A

4

2

Mute Triangle

79

G#

4

3

Open Cuica

78

G

4

4

Mute Cuica

77

F#

4

5

Low Wood Block

76

F

4

6

Hi Wood Block

75

E

4

7

Claves

74

D#

4

8

Long Guiro

73

D

4

9

Short Guiro

72

C#

4

0

Long Whistle

71

C

4

-

Short Whistle

70

B

3

=

Maracas

69

A#

3

bksp

Cabasa

68

A

3

\

Low Agogo

67

G#

3

]

High Agogo

66

G

3

[

Low Timbale

65

F#

3

P

High Timbale

64

F

3

O

Low Conga

63

E

3

I

Open Hi Conga

62

D#

3

U

Mute Hi Conga

61

D

3

Y

Low Bongo

60

C#

3

T

Hi Bongo

59

C

3

R

Ride Cymbal 2

58

B

2

E

Vibraslap

57

A#

2

W

Crash Cymbal 2

56

A

2

Q

Cowbell

55

G#

2

A

Splash Cymbal

54

G

2

S

Tambourine

53

F#

2

D

Ride Bell

52

F

2

F

Chinese Cymbal

51

E

2

G

Ride Cymbal 1

50

D#

2

H

High Tom

49

D

2

J

Crash Cymbal 1

48

C#

2

K

Hi-Mid Tom

47

C

2

L

Low-Mid Tom

46

B

1

;

Open Hi-Hat

45

A#

1

Low Tom

44

A

1

/

Pedal Hi-Hat

43

G#

1

.

High Floor Tom

42

G

1

,

Closed Hi-Hat

41

F#

1

M

Low Floor Tom

40

F

1

N

Electric Snare

39

E

1

B

Hand Clap

38

D#

1

V

Acoustic Snare

37

D

1

C

Side Stick

36

C#

1

X

Bass Drum 1

35

C

1

Z

Acoustic Bass Drum

Note:  MIDI Note #’s are 0 thru 127

            KMK qwerty-key assumes 'Z0' keyboard layout

In the table above, the MIDI note numbers and note names are only used when connecting a MIDI keyboard or drum-pad. The KeyMusician Keyboard application takes care of this for you.

MIDI note numbers are described by the table below:


So now that you know the details of using the Drums pane and the Dynamics Pad, let's watch a video showing what you can do with it. You can watch it by clicking on the link below:

KMK Percussion Demo Video

So give it a try. Maybe you will become a drummer. You might as well try it, since it comes along with the rest of the KeyMusician Keyboard.

I hope this article was interesting, informative, and useful for you. - Aere

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