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FREE Music Minus One for Everyone!

Have you ever played your drums along with a recording? It's not only a great way to practice drumming but it's a whole lot of fun. There's also no better way to get a feel for playing with a band - other than actually drumming with one - and it can be useful for beginner and professional drummers alike.

If you're just starting out on the drums, you can use it to get your first taste of driving a band. If you've been drumming for a while, you can still use it to develop a feel for new styles of music.

Even better than standard recordings, are the Music Minus One kind. These let you practice with an entire band minus the drummer, plus they come with a drum chart you can use to build your reading chops while sharpening your ensemble chops. The downside is that these special recordings are expensive. At about $30 each, you can go broke before you learn much.

But thanks to a little four-letter acronym called MIDI, which stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, there's a cheaper and much better alternative. And if you already have the necessary software, it'll cost you next to nothing. I call it MIDI Minus One. And in three simple steps, you'll be ready to rock.

 

Step One
Prerequisites: If you're brand new to MIDI, you might want to check out What is MIDI, Anyway? by About.com MP3/MIDI Guide Steve Allen. You'll also need a MIDI file that has a good cookin' drum part and a software or hardware MIDI sequencer. If you need a software sequencer surf over to Software, here at TigerBill's DrumBeat, and take your pick.

The Net has thousands of MIDI files that are free for the downloading. Although you can get into big trouble if you use these files for commercial (moneymaking) purposes, you'll be using them strictly for personal pleasure and education only.

If you don't have a good MIDI file handy, download some now. I'm sure you'll be able to find something you like at one of the sites listed in the sidebar, on the right side of this column.

Once you have a good MIDI file, load it into your software or hardware sequencer. Exactly how to do this will vary depending on what you have, so you'll need to follow your instructions.

 

Step Two
At this point, you should have a MIDI file loaded into your MIDI sequencer. Play it now to make sure it has a good drum track. If not, keep trying MIDI files until you find a good one. Once you do, use your sequencer to delete or mute the drum track and save this file to a different name (to avoid overwriting the original, which we'll need again later). Now when you play your new MIDI file, you should hear the entire band minus the drums. That takes care of the Music Minus One part, but what about the drum charts? You read my mind. That's next.

 

Step Three
Prerequisites: You'll need a MIDI music notation program for this step. If you don't already have one, try Overture 2. I like it and you can download a free trial version to try.

Take your original MIDI file, the one with the drum track, and load it into your MIDI music notation program. Play the song and save only the drum track for printing. If your software doesn't allow you to do this, you'll have to either save the entire score or get better software. Again, you'll have to follow your software's instructions to help you to do this.

Once you're finished, simply print out the score, toss it up on the music stand, put on some headphones, and fire up the MIDI Minus One file you created in step two.

 

Hit The Woodshed
You now have the ability to create custom MIDI Minus One songs and drum charts for all of your favorite tunes.

Practice sessions will be more fun and more rewarding, as you have the ability to access thousands of tunes across the Net for free.

And what I like best about it all, is that you never have to hear the rest of the band complaining that they need a break!

Until next time: Stay loose.

Tiger Bill Meligari

 

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