Drumming With A Keyboard
Editor's comments: If you play keyboard and are thinking of buying a drum machine, read this article first. Maybe you don't have to spend anymore money.
Summary: When you are choosing an electronic keyboard, most people want to know what it sounds and feels like as a piano, but what about those who want to use their keyboard to play the drums?
Most modern MIDI keyboards come with a range of preset percussion sounds, usually many more than piano sounds, which are perfect for this application. One example is the Korg Pa1X Pro Elite arranger keyboard which has 48 preset drum kit sounds and the capacity for a further 128 that you can program yourself. Even Yamaha's new YPG series of piano focused keyboards incorporate 12 drum/SFX kits.
Check the specification of any keyboard you are considering buying to find out how many preset drum kits are included. Each sound will incorporate a full range of instruments from a snare and bass drum to a floor tom, triangle and full range of cymbals.
It may seem a little odd to play a drum kit by pressing keys on a keyboard but it is quite simple to learn. If your keyboard synthesizer is compatible with General MIDI then the preset drum sounds will be mapped to the keyboard using a standard GM percussion map. Each individual instrument in the drum kit sound is assigned to a specific note and that when that key is pressed down, the instrument will sound. The notes are numbered in a standard way so that middle C is always MIDI note number 60.
When you are first getting to grips with playing percussion on a keyboard, it is useful to have songs that you can play along with, getting progressively more complicated and requiring the use of more fingers as you introduce new drums and cymbals. Preferably your keyboard should have some sort of education features to help you with this.
If you already have a keyboard, but are considering buying another just because it has increased percussion sounds, or any other sounds for that matter, it is worth looking at purchasing additional software synthesizers for your computer instead. One example would be Propellerhead Software Reason 2.5 (Mac/Win) which incorporates a pattern-based software drum machine, known as Redrum. This has 78 drum kit sounds.
Dan Maynord is sharing his expertise with us about keyboards. I have so many questions from students, and it is so important to purchase the right piano, that I thought what better than to have an expert with us. Go to his web site, and if you have questions, just drop him an E-mail, he will be glad to help you. firstname.lastname@example.org
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