Remapping incoming MIDI from your digital drum kit

Posted by Markus on 2013-10-18 in Crew

I have a digital drum kit that sends MIDI, but making sure sent notes trigger the right drum pads in Kong is a bit tricky. Hitting the floor tom triggers the snare drum, the snare drum triggers the crash, and so on. This can temporarily be solved by using the right-hand drum assignment buttons in Kong, but such changes are not persistent when changing patches. Ideally, remapping of incoming notes would happen behind the scenes so that Kong receives the proper notes to begin with. This would also enable us to load entire drum kit patches in Kong without losing the remapping.

Thanks to Thor and Combinator (and most of all to Leo who came up with this solution) I now have a general purpose Reason patch that does exactly this, and I thought I’d share it to anyone who might have the same problem. Keep reading if you want to know how it works in detail, or just download the patch right away:

Kong-Millenium-MPS-100.cmb

It is called Millenium MPS-100 because that’s the name of my drum kit but of course it applies to any kit, although you might have to edit the mapping. However, such change is trivial and you will only have to do it once. Here’s how it works:

Inside the Combinator is a Kong and ten Thors, one for each drum. This includes open and closed hi-hat as well as the hi-hat pedal itself as three separate drums. Each Thor has a cable going from its CV1 output to the Gate In input on the corresponding Kong pad. The modulation matrix in Thor has one entry with the source Voice Key > Velocity, amount 100 and destination CV Output > 1. This will send any incoming notes to the CV output that is routed to Kong.

All ten Thors are set up this way, with the only difference being that they are routed to different Kong pads. Now, playing a drum will trigger a pad, but you will discover that in fact all the routed pads are played at the same time for all the drums. The last step in making this patch work is to make it only trigger a pad if one specific drum/note is played. This is done using the programmer section of the Combinator:

kong-drum-remapping-01

As seen in the image, the Thors have been appropriately named for easy reference. Each unit is then selected in the list on the left side, and its key narrowed down from the initial range over many notes to just one single note, by dragging the left and right handles right beneath the keyboard. This single note is then moved to the note coming from the drum kit. The easiest way to figure out what notes the drum kit is sending is to simply press record in Reason, hit each drum once in some order that is easy to remember, then look at the recorded notes in the sequencer.

Mission accomplished! The drum kit will now play the correct notes regardless of its initial configuration, and this patch can be saved and reused whenever you would normally use a Kong. I’ve seen people resort to additional MIDI software to do something like this at a system level, which just seems overkill. If your drum kit has no way to alter the MIDI out data, which is the case for most lower-end kits, this is the perfect solution. Once again, the power and versatility of Thor saves the day.

On a last note (no pun intended): If more people are doing this, a collaborative ReFill could be built and maintained with remapped Kong patches for various drum kits. Feel free to start a thread in the user forum and share your own configurations.

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