If you’re pressed for time or if you already know the basic concepts behind virtual drum instruments, then this Walkthrough may be all you need for now, and you can come back later to look up more detailed explanations as you need them.
We will take a quick tour across all controls of Virtual Drummer. After this you will have a good basic understanding.
We assume you have any of the Virtual Drummers opened in your DAW. Ideally you have a MIDI controller connected, otherwise use the Interactive Keyboard.
Make a Sound and Learn About Chords and Keys
- Start your DAW and open Virtual Drummer - it will load a default Style that’s all you need for now – and activate the Latch button.
- Now hit key C3 on your MIDI keyboard (or on the interactive keyboard) and Virtual Drummer will start playing a Verse.
- The Interactive Keyboard plays and phrases notes when you click the lower half of each key.
- It also doubles as a display for the MIDI notes Virtual Drummer is receiving. The keyboard is divided and properly labeled with the functions of the corresponding note ranges.
- Move up the white keys to go from Verse to Chorus and other parts.
Tell Your Player What to Play
- Now try black keys and notice how they behave differently. Intros play only once and then fall back to the previously active part, and so do Fills, while Breakdowns play while you hold them, and Endings finish off the song.
- To gradually tweak the performance, turn the Mod Wheel up and notice how the drummer gradually goes softer.
- Move the Pitch wheel up to mute the kick drum, or down to mute the snare. This is great for intermezzos and lead-ins.
Try the Presets
- At the top of the Virtual Drummer window you can load presets. A preset is always a complete setting of Virtual Drummer, i.e. it will change the performance as well as the drum kit and mixer console setup. At this point, just go through different presets and try different Style Phrases to get an impression of the musical and sonic palette of Virtual Drummer.
- Activate the Latch button right next to the Style Bar. Now Virtual Drummer will keep playing even if you don’t hold a note.
- Keep a groove playing, and go through the various drum kits on the left side. Notice how they are descriptively named from soft to hard.
Build Songs in your DAW
- Click and hold the top half of any phrase key on the interactive keyboard (marked with a square of dots) and drag into your Virtual Drummer track in your DAW. A region with the MIDI notes of that phrase will appear in that track.
- Do the same with different keys to build a song structure. You may even switch styles in between, or even Virtual Drummers if you have more than one. It all works together!
Change the Drum Kit
- Try the various level controls from Kick to Room and notice their impact on the sound of the drum kit.
- Select different drum instruments for each channel and play with the other parameters such as decay and tune. Also try the filters in the Overhead and Room channels.
Change the Mix
- Switch the Mix Preset on the right side of Virtual Drummer. Play with the Amount control and see what difference it makes.
- Try the controls in the Master Section, such as Saturation or Maximizer.
- Finally, try the Slam Control. It’s exactly what the name says: a really powerful compressor.
Background: Styles and Phrases
It is important to know that Virtual Drummer does neither require you to know how to play a drum kit on a keyboard, nor to think about how to emulate realistic drum techniques. It has all that built-in, simply because it is based on actual drum performances. What Virtual Drummer emulates is therefore a studio drummer who already knows how to play.
The foundation of all styles and phrases of Virtual Drummer are live performances of professional drummers. During the sessions for Virtual Drummer, hours of live performances of professional drummers were recorded to pre-recorded instrument tracks on a high-end virtual drum kit for meticulous timing and feel. Subsequently, they were optimized to match the dynamic response of the drum kits built into Virtual Drummer to re-create the groove and feel of the original performance.
But what’s more: Because the actual notes, drum sounds and mixing gear are separated inside Virtual Drummer, you can play any groove with any kit, and also flexibly customize the drum track and mix to your musical taste and mix.
Note: If you use the drag and drop feature, you can even exchange phrases between styles. If you have two or three Virtual Drummer, that is even true between Virtual Drummers.
The top bar of the Virtual Drummer interface lets you load and save presets. It also contains important management functions from checking your trial status to contacting support.
A preset in Virtual Drummer is a complete setting of the entire plug-in including Style selection and all control settings. Here’s how you can switch presets:
- Advance to the next preset by clicking one of the arrows left and right of the PRESET name
- Click on the name of the current preset in the PRESET menu to open the Preset Browser (see image above).
As you can see, the Preset Browser is a clean, organized list of presets, categorized by simple musical terms.
Take your time exploring the Presets, as this is the quickest way of getting an overview of what Virtual Drummer can do!
If you have freshly installed Virtual Drummer, there will only be Factory Presets. User Presets will appear once you have saved your first own preset.
Save / Save as …
You can of course save your own Virtual Drummer presets. You can name them and assign a category too.
The difference between the Save and Save as … buttons:
- Save overwrites the preset with the changes you just made.
- Save as … lets you assign a name and a category, so does not replace the current preset.
Note: Factory Presets can only be saved using Save As …, they cannot be overwritten.
Moving, Renaming and Deleting Presets
You can move, rename or delete Presets directly in your operating system. You will find Virtual Drummer Presets in these folders:
When you launch Virtual Drummer, it will automatically check for updates. If an update is available, the update icon will be highlighted.
Clicking it will open a dialog that lets you choose whether you want to download the update now or later.
The About Page is the place for information about your version and licensing status of Virtual Drummer. It is also a portal to other services:
- Visit Product Site takes you to ujam.com with regularly updated news, videos, tutorials, and other helpful stuff.
- Contact Support lets you report problems and ask questions.
- Read User Manual opens this document.
- Acknowledgments – the people behind Virtual Drummer.
- License Agreement – legalese stuff for gourmets.