Play Anything with Your Drum Set, Anything…

Mickey Hart Plays the Sounds of Outer Space

drum set drumstix

Play Anything with Your Drum Set, Anything…

If we said that you could play the sounds of outer space with your drum set, would you believe us? We had a hard time believing it ourselves, but that’s exactly what Mickey Hart did at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival with Skrillex. Actually, Mickey plays the sounds of the universe all the time through RAMU (Random Access Musical Universe). RAMU is Mickey’s personal sound library that he’s collected over decades. It includes rare and unique percussion instruments from around the world, historical sound bites, speeches, and the sounds of planets. According to Mickey, the planetary sound vibrations are captured from radio satellites, which he then treats for “sonification” to be playable music tones in Ableton Live. Technically, RAMU could be triggered from any MIDI device, however the V-Drums make the articulation of real drumming possible.

Triggering Sounds…

To trigger sound libraries such as RAMU you’d have to send MIDI information OUT from the sound module and into your source. All Roland sound modules have a MIDI OUT port, some such as the TD-30 and TM-2 also have a MIDI IN port, which allows you to trigger the sounds within the module. V-Drums have the lowest rated latency among electronic drum sets, which make them the preferred choice among pros. However, if you’re looking to play independent from your computer, the SPD-SX and TM-2 allow you to import your sounds/samples into the unit.

drum set DAW

Connecting Your Drum Set to a DAW…

There are three ways to connect V-Drums to a DAW:

  • Connecting via MIDI – This method requires that you plug out of the V-Drums module via MIDI and into your computer. Depending on the type of module you have, you could accomplish this in one of two ways: either directly via USB MIDI, or with a MIDI to USB converter.
  • Connecting via audio – This method requires that you connect the audio coming out of the module into an audio interface such as a DUO Capture, which connects into your computer to receive audio.
  • Connecting both audio and MIDI (best of both worlds) – Simply apply both methods as described above to accomplish this.


There are many benefits to capturing audio and MIDI data simultaneously with a DAW that could be applied to numerous styles of modern music. For example, dub step has some of the most unnatural sounding drums ever. These sounds are varying combinations of drum tones, synthesized sounds, samples, and effects that are meticulously woven together in a DAW. In most cases, not all, the end result can only exist in a recorded format. However, sending audio and MIDI from a V-Drums kit allows you to accomplish the same result faster. This technique allows you to play drum articulations and techniques such as single stroke rolls, rim shots, buzz rolls, etc., that can only be accomplished with a drum set. PRO TIP: For some really fresh results, use the MIDI track information to audition tones from any sound library to layer over your audio track.

Thom Green Artist Impression of the TD-4KP