[Tutorial] Converting drums to midi (Reaper)


Proud Behringer User
Feb 19, 2012
This is a tutorial that the user Uros wrote for converting drums to midi in Reaper. I'm not sure how many people will see it it the other thread so I'm reposting it here.

  • Right click on item, then click on Item processing>Dynamic split items, and a dialog box will appear.
  • Click on 'Set transient sensitivity', set Sensitivity to 100% and adjust Threshold on desired track so that it picks up hits as good as possible.
  • Click Split. Now your track is sliced up. Fix undetected hits manually by using tab-to-transient and cutting.
  • When you have finished this (so that you have cuts at the start of every transient), go to Actions and type in 'create chromatic midi' in the box.
  • Click on 'Item: Create chromatic MIDI from items' and run that action.

Alternatively (and possibly faster way of doing it, depending on how good you dynamic split detection is) - skip the tab-to-transient manual slicing part - just set Dynamic split so that it picks up all the hits, check 'Create chromatic MIDI item from slices' in the Dynamic split dialogue box and then click Split. When you are done with converting to midi, just erase mistriggers by hand in the MIDI editor. They should be pretty easy to spot, 'cause most probably they'll have low velocity values.

Any way you do it, you'll end up getting a new MIDI track. Then:

  • Double click on that new MIDI track, and now you are in the MIDI editor.
  • Press Ctrl+A to select all the notes
  • Press Ctrl+F2 and you'll get a new dialog box. For this step you have to know MIDI numbers of desired drum elements (kick is 36, snare is 38).
  • If you are for ex. doing this on your kick track, type in 36 in the box, and now all converted hits have the same note value - 36/C2, which is what you want.
  • Adjust velocities by hand (for metal, you'll most probably want them in the 115-127 range for snare, and something like 123-127 for kicks), and that's it.
Now you are able to trigger samples/VSTi's off your midi track.

I started using Reaper originally just because of this function, but nowadays I find myself using it more and more, especially for drum and bass editing.

Before spliting you can duplicate the drum track and then delete the splited track to not lost any hits.
i`m thought of this method also and im using it for my last proyect!!! works like a charm!!!
The whole proces for editing drums and the converting to midi is:
In a section by section basis
A) dynamic split kick and snare track (grouped with the rest of the drum tracks)
a`) manualy check edits or mistrigers etc
B) Quantize items
C) Create chromatic items (the whole process you explained
D) SWS fill gaps to close the gaps after the quantize process.

It has to be done in this order, becouse the midi note is created at the begining of the item, so it wont work if the gaps are filled.

Since the dynamic split tool is pretty acurate the whole process is quite simple.

I also created a custom action for the ultimate precision if you want to split items manualy:

is quite simple: "split items at edit cursor"+ "go to next transient"
If you use it as a smart tool , all you have to do is click on the transient, and bum! split and in a second you are in the next hit. Really really fast and it is the more precise method.
^^well, I don't do any quantizing, drums should already be edited prior to making trigger MIDI tracks.

Once again, all credit goes to AdamWathan for this method, dunno where's that guy now.
By the way to anyone using Reaper I would suggest going in each menu and learning what each button do. There are a lot of cool functions that will save you time.
There's another way to do it that I find much quicker:

Load up the JS stillwell/drumtrigger on your track. Set the midi note you want, i.e 36 for a kick drum. After stillwell/drumtrigger you'll probably want to add the JS midi velocity control, just because drumtrigger tends to put out pretty low velocities. Load your drum VST on a new track, and in the I/O make it receive the track with drumtrigger on it. Now just adjust the open/close in drumtrigger until the notes are triggering correctly. It can be helpful to throw on an expander/gate before drumtrigger to cut out ambient noise if you didn't record triggers. Then you can either leave it sending from the track, or just right click the audio region and select "render FX as new take - midi output" and then you have a midi file. done.