MIDI Velocity!

drums mixing music Mar 16, 2018

Do you ever feel like your songs sometimes sound lifeless or boring? Or maybe straight up “MIDI sounding?” I have one word that is going to turn your lackluster song into a gem: Velocity.

Use different velocities on your virtual instruments (especially drums!) to make things more interesting. Don't always use the "heaviest loudest" setting. It gets boring. Different velocities/intensities give your music its character. I get sick of always hearing drums "on" or "off" in the sense of performance. It's 127 velocity or there are no drums. That gets boring. Throw in some ghost notes (check out the video "Programming Drums to Sound More Human: Ghost Notes" to see what I'm talking about.)

Another thing to try is alternating hits with different velocities. This helps to make it not so programmed and flat-lined. Music is supposed to be a dynamic moving story. Don't make it sound robotic by having every single instrument hit the 127 mark to make it "loud."

There are some situations where you might want your drums to be consistent. For example in EDM, you would want (if you were doing a dance beat) all of your kicks on the downbeat to be the same or close to the same velocity. That way you maintain power in all of your kicks without losing energy. You could get creative and maybe make the 1 & 3 a little harder and the 2 & 4 a little lighter to give that contrast.

But the idea of using different velocities to enhance your software instruments performance is key to bringing the life back into music. Again, if you are trying to make something louder don't just increase the velocity right away, use the volume fader. That's what it's there for!


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