I'm interested in having a live performance setup wherein I essentially beatbox into a microphone and have my beats sounded by a MIDI drum rack.

So I'm looking for software (whether a feature of a DAW or whether a standalone VST/etc module) that will in REALTIME trigger MIDI drum voices (i.e. generate MIDI Notes) in response to the input from the microphone.

Ableton Live version 9 contains this functionality (including smart sensing of different percussive sounds i.e. snare versus kick versus crash) but not in realtime.

  • 1
    Is this a rephrasing of this question? If so, please delete one of the questions. Again I would advise Ableton Live. With that software you can slice recordings into MIDI tracks. Jan 23, 2013 at 10:15
  • This is not at all a rephrasing -- there is almost nothing in common between these questions.
    – themirror
    Feb 5, 2013 at 19:42
  • The commonalities that I saw: live-performance, sing rhythm in a mic/capture a 1-sec recording from a mic, play that rhythm/1-sec recording over MIDI. Differences I could see: the possible duplicate is about a loop, this isn't. But if you say it's totally different I can vote to re-open it. Feb 5, 2013 at 20:02
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    @BartArondson I think this is a fundamentally different question. The other question is about sampling, but this question seems to be about extracting MIDI data from an audio recording. marienbad, does that sound correct to you? You might want to word the question a bit more clearly if that's the case.
    – Warrior Bob
    Feb 8, 2013 at 22:51
  • Yes that's accurate; I'll work on rephrasing my questions.
    – themirror
    Feb 9, 2013 at 1:48

1 Answer 1


This may not be an answer per se, but as a software developer and musician I'd like to shed some light on why I think you would not be satisfied with any software claiming to do this.


In order for the software to decide what midi note to play,
it will need to analyze enough data in order to make a good choice. 
This will introduce a severe latency.


I think, the best solution for anything like this would be to prerecord what you think a HH sounds like, a bass drum, a ride, crash and snare. If you could keep the drum count low, and assure that each sound is significantly different from all the others then it could probably be done with less than 10ms latency. You'll need fewer samples differentiating between a bass drum and a high hat, than the tim, and the tam.

If the software required you to enter some samples of yourself beat-boxing each drum sound; the problem domain would no longer be that of matching your sound to a best guess over a mathematical and statistical representation of a 'snare drum sound', but rather a much simpler approximation, trying to find a close match between your sound and a prerecording of you for that same sound. There is also the problem of sample hold. A good heuristic for this might be to simply wait to send the MIDI OFF message until there is silence on the mic. That way, you could hold a bass drum for as long as you had breath.

There might be some programs out there that can analyze an audio stream 
for certain sounds that you enter yourself, and trigger a reaction to those.
If that reaction could be to send a MIDI message you've got a solution.

Actually, as I wrote this answer it seems like an interesting and challenging project. Let me know if you still have not found anything in a few days time, will you?

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