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|Session Drummer 2: custom kits and instruments|
note: the illustrations in this tutorial use a custom skin for Session Drummer 2.
download the custom skin here
Session Drummer 2 is a professional drum sampler and pattern player that appears in the Soft Synths plug-in list in Cakewalk's SONAR. Custom instruments can be used with Session Drummer 2 but it may be a bit confusing to learn how to do this. This tutorial will try to make it easy to use your own custom kits.
To begin with, let's define several file types that are used in Session Drummer 2's library structure.
Program: a collection of kits and midi patterns. The file extension is .prog
Kit: a collection of instruments. The file extension is .kit
Instruments: a sound font or collection of .wav files defined as a list. In Session Drummer 2 the various .wav files correspond to MIDI keys and ranges of MIDI velocity assigned in the .sfz file. The file extension is .sfz
All these file types can be viewed in a plain text editor like NotePad but only the .sfz instrument files may be saved with such a text editor. Program and Kit files must be assembled and saved within Session Drummer 2.
This tutorial focuses on preparing and assembling .sfz instruments so that they may be incorporated into .kit and .prog files with Session Drummer 2.
Locate your Session Drummer 2 directory:
Open the Contents directory:
Open the Kits directory:
note: The .kit files can be viewed with a text editor but Session Drummer 2 .kit files are created, edited, and saved with Session Drummer 2. You must use Session Drummer 2 to edit and save.
Each Session Drummer 2 .kit file refers to 10 .sfz instrument files named something like this:
04) _Hi Toms.sfz
05) _Lo Toms.sfz
06) _Floor Toms.sfz
As an example, let's look inside the 2 - Snares directory:
The .sfz files shown above can be created and edited with a text editor. These are the sound font files that are essentially lists of .wav files making a collection of sounds known as an instrument. Think of a .sfz file as the instrument.
It can be helpful for organizational purposes to keep the collections of .wav files in directories. Here is a partial view of the collection of .wav files in my MQ Tama Snares directory:
To summarize, a soundfont or instrument is a .sfz file and it's associated .wav file collection.
Here is a portion of the contents of my custom made MQ Tama Snares.sfz file:
// MQ Tama Snares Sample Set
// Tama Star Classic Performer (Birch) 14"x5.5" tuned for woody sound
// recorded on May 13th 2007 by Mike and Gia McCue www.harmoniccycle.com
// Acoustic Snare:
<group> key=38 loop_mode=one_shot
<region> lovel=000 hivel=015 sample=MQ Tama Snares\MQ TamaStarClassic14x5birch 01.wav
<group> key=38 loop_mode=one_shot
defines the MIDI key that triggers this instrument and the loop mode. The loop mode can be loop_mode=one_shot or loop_mode=loop_sustain
Lines like this:
<region> lovel=075 hivel=079 sample=MQ Tama Snares\MQ TamaStarClassic14x5birch 11.wav
define which .wav sample file will play within the MIDI velocity region specified. Notice that the sample= entry includes the directory info.
a step by step how to:
Some times the file names are cumbersome. I use CKRename from CKSoft Software to automatically rename file sequences:
Here are the files which I have placed as a sample set in \VstPlugins\Session Drummer 2\Contents\Kits\MQ Tama Starclassic\MQ-Av16PaperThin\
| Here is a custom MQ-Tama2008-crash.sfz instrument file that has been written and edited with NotePad.
Notice the use of the thirty 16PaperThin_**.wav files for the Session Drummer 2 Crash Cymbal 1.
//MQ Tama2008 Zildjian Crash cymbal collection
//16" Zildjian Avedis Paper Thin Crash
// 8" Zildjian Avedis Fast Splash
//10" Zildjian Avedis Splash
//16" Zildjian Avedis Thin Crash
loading a .sfz instrument into Session Drummer 2:
Here is a step by step example that will illustrate how to load the MQ-Tama2008-crash.sfz instrument file, mentioned above, to make a custom kit and program.
Launch SONAR and open an instance of Session Drummer 2:
Click on the Crash Pad to activate it:
Right Click on the Crash Pad. You can load instruments from here and you can also see what "Notes" are assigned to the Pad. The instrument .sfz file can reference each of these "Notes" to a sample set of .wav files.
Rather than use the Crash Pad to load instruments move the cursor to the top left of the Session Drummer 2 window and look at the 3 menu items labeled "PROG", "MIDI", and "PAD". In this example the current Crash Pad is the stock sl tight dry crashes.sfz instrument file:
Click on the "PAD" to view the menu choices. You can load instruments and manage kits. This is the primary place to create, edit, and save Session Drummer 2 .kit files.
Select "Load Instrument"
Locate and select the .sfz instrument file. In this example I have selected the MQ-Tama2008-crash.sfz:
Now the PAD menu indicates that the custom crash cymbals instruments is loaded:
Now you can save the custom .kit file. Click on the "PAD" to view the menu choices:
Select "Save Kit" or "Save Kit As":
Save the kit:
Click on the PROG to view the Program menu:
To make a new Program select Save Program As...
This example shows how to save the custom program file MQ Tama Starclassic 2008.prog:
Now the PROG menu indicates that the MQ TAMA Starclassic 2008.prog Program file is loaded:
Click on the MIDI to view the MIDI Pattern menu:
This example shows how to Unload All Patterns:
Now the MIDI patterns are cleared:
You can load suitable MIDI Pattern clips to complete a custom Session Drummer 2 Program package.