How to Make Drum Tracks in Cubase

Written by chris anzalone
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Steinberg Cubase is a computer-based digital audio workstation. The software functions as a virtual recording studio, allowing amateur and professional musicians to record and mix original music for demos, mix tapes and full-length albums. Cubase also comes equipped with virtual instrumentation, which can fill in any musical gaps by emulating the sounds of real instruments. If the sound of drums is needed, Cubase offers virtual drums to create complete, realistic-sounding drum tracks.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • MIDI controller
  • MIDI USB adaptor
  • MIDI cable

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  1. 1

    Connect a MIDI controller instrument to the computer. A MIDI keyboard, MIDI drum machine or other MIDI instrument is used to control the drums. Use a USB MIDI instrument to directly connect to the computer, or connect a standard MIDI instrument with a USB MIDI adaptor, which connects to the computer's USB port. Connect a five-pin MIDI cable to the circular "MIDI Out" jack on the keyboard, and to the corresponding "MIDI In" jack on the computer adaptor.

  2. 2

    Open a new or existing music project in Cubase. Click "File," then "New" on the menu bar. Click "File," then "Open" to select a project already in progress.

  3. 3

    Create a MIDI track. Select "Project" on the menu bar. Hover the mouse over "Add Track," and click the "MIDI." A large horizontal bar appears in the main window and is the MIDI recording space on which to record the drums.

  4. 4

    Click "Devices" on the menu bar, and select the "VST Instruments" option, near the bottom of the list to select an electronic drum kit. Select the drop-down menu that appears next to the number "1," and choose "Drums," or an alternative desired drum kit plug-in. The drum kit appears in a separate window.

  5. 5

    Return to the main window space, and click the "Out" menu in the left column. Select "Drums" from the list to designate a previously selected drum kit as the main output sound.

  6. 6

    Play notes on the MIDI instrument to get familiar with the layout. On a standard keyboard, a "C2" key corresponds to the kick drum, which the basis of the percussion. Subsequent notes correspond to hi-hats, cymbals, snares, toms and other percussion sounds.

  7. 7

    Press the large red "Record" button on the left side of the computer screen to begin a recording session. Play the notes on a MIDI instrument to sequence and save the drum pattern. Press the square "Stop" button at the top of the project window at the end of the recording session.

Tips and warnings

  • If you do not own a MIDI instrument, you manually can insert drum notes. Follow Steps 2 through 5 to create a drum track, then select the "Drum Map" option from the left column. A new window appears with a vertical list of drums, followed by a grid. Click the boxes on the grid that appear beside the desired drums that you want to sound. Move from left to right to create complete sequences.

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