Is there a free soundfont that includes a DEEP base Kettle Drum?

• Mar 18, 2021 - 02:44

HI all. I have been just amazed by MuseScore and am obviously working in it to create beautiful music. In my current project, I want to include some really deep base, booming Kettle drum, with some big rolls near the end. The Timpani drum in the default soundfont sounds like a machine gun. Has anyone found a free soundfont that includes a really great deep base kettle drum, so that inserting a roll will make the room shake so to speak, as live kettle drums can do during a finale? I'd appreciate your advice.


The problem here isn't with the soundfont - the basic sample is fine. The issue is that adding a tremolo is not able to mimic the actual sound of a roll. So a different soudnfont with a fine basic sample won't help- it will also be turned into a machine gun the moment you add a tremolo.

But you might be able to find a soundfont that actually samples timpani being rolled in addition to the standard sample. Then you'll need to use that sample specifically for the rolled notes, switching with a staff text much as you would between arco and pizz for strings.

I have just added Timpani to my free download site
Just scroll down to the Bass & Drums section. I actually haven't gotten around to try to program drums so I'm not sure how it will perform and Marc is probably correct about the machine gun effect. If you can program it as an instrument (Midi Instrument 047) and you assign two different notes repeating with pedal down you just might be able to avoid machine gunning.

In reply to by Jonky Ponky

Thanks for the reply from both of you. Frankly, I am really surprised that realistic kettle drum rolls have not yet been solved by MuseScore members. I would have thought it would be a reasonably common desire among classical, soundtrack and orchestral composers, and someone would have figured out how to mimic it using a good timpani sample + score commands/text/note writing. They are quite common in big bold classical pieces.

FYI, I found an online discussion on a professional soundfont site (almost $7,000 to buy) of how to write timpani rolls using a timpani sample. It does use Tremolo symbols and I presume, a good set of samples. It suggests a roll is not done using a rolled sample, but using single notes and tremolo. It also shows how to create a building roll with dynamics. I will experiment. Here is the write-up. To listen to the rolls, visit the site and click on the MP3 sample tabs!Timpani-Rolls, and!Timpani-Rolls_dyna… . They are quite good.

Screenshot 2021-03-18 114324.png
Screenshot 2021-03-18 115338.png

In reply to by fsgregs

Update: Aah ... I guess you guys already knew about the above post. When I tried to duplicate the timpani roll per the written notes and Tremolo in MuseScore using four different timpani fonts, it still sounded terribly like a machine gun, NOT like the sample audio on the website. The reason seems to be the font. In the super-expensive font ($7,000 for the set), the timpani sound varies in tone slightly as the roll progresses. It is as if the recording was done while someone was actually drumming a roll, with changes in impact. So, Marc is probably right in suggesting that the samples are not from a single note but from a roll itself. Unless I can find a drum roll soundfont, it does not appear that realistic timpani drum rolls will be possible in MuseScore. I'll let you know if I can find one.

In reply to by fsgregs

It's important to keep in mind that from the beginning, the primary purpose of MuseScore has been about producing beautiful notation. Along the way, sure, we want to make sure playback works, but that's never been the main focus. Since the General MIDI standard doesn't really include a way to do this that we could simply use, MuseScore wasn't about to invent, design, and implement one of its own - that would have taken way too much effort away from the much higher priority things.

But now as the notation side is really coming together together, going forward, there is more focus on playback. And the advent of MIDI 2.0 might mean we don't have to reinvent this particular wheel, there may be ways of getting it "for free".

That said, there are technologies that can do this currently. The MuseScore Drumline extension (MDL) uses SFZ soundfonts - by definition, not General MIDI compatible in the least - but they do include separate samples for buzzrolls and tons of other sounds that GM has never heard of. And the SFZ format allows for some other nice effects like "round robin" playing of alternating samples, that can allow an SFZ drum sound to mimic a roll better than playing the same sample over and over.

Since the "M" in MDL standards for Marching, I wouldn't expect there to be much if anything in the way of timpani support. But it does suggest it is possible for someone to design an SFZ soundfont and to set it up within MuseScore to use rolled samples where appropriate. It's possible with the SF2 format too, but again, this wouldn't be GM compatible anyhow, and SFZ is a better fit.

So you might do a web search to see if there exists any timpani SFZ soundfonts, and then there would be decent chance you could get this.

But FWIW, rolls on timpani are probably at least as common for soft passages as for loud - the roll provides a a way to lengthen a quiet note that would otherwise die away too quickly. It's also a way to achieve a crescendo on a single note of course. But for the really big dramatic places where you want a loud booming hit, a roll is not the way to get that.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc, as usual, I am grateful for your reply. First off, I know NOTHING ... I mean NOTHING ... about MIDI standards. Could not ever tell you the difference between MIDI 1 and MIDI 2.0. Everything you just said about it is over my head, unfortunately. 2nd, apparently, there exists a MuseScore Drumline extension using SFZ samples that might create somewhat of a drum roll using SFZ. Is it available? Where can I download it?

3rd, I will look for SFZ soundfonts that include Timpani drum roll samples. I will let you all know here if I find one. At least, the images I included in the prior post show me what to do to create the roll in the first place, and even change its dynamics.

In reply to by fsgregs

Yes, MDL is available via Help / Resource Manager, but as I said, it's extremely unlikely to help with non-marching instruments like timpani.

To "too long didn't understand" of what I wrote before: MuseScore developers work very hard to produce good notation, but we rely on third party tools and standards to handle most playback. The short answer to any question about "why doesn't MuseScore playback do X" is "because the third party tools and standards we rely on don't support it, and we don't have the expertise or time to invent it ourselves".

In reply to by yonah_ag

God, now you're scaring me. I am wayyyyy tooo much a novice to attempt making a soundfont. I have no idea how to do so, and even if the wav samples were good timpani drum sounds, I would have zero idea how to create a drum roll with them and make it into a font. Whoa! I'm lucky I can even read what your guys are saying!

In reply to by fsgregs

Virtual Playing Orchestra contains two types of timp hits and two rolls. The General HQ fonts sounds like the timp is struck with a hard mallet. The VPO fonts sound a little rounder. I didn't try the rolls, but here is how I use the hit to make a roll in an orchestra piece. I use a big timp roll as part of a build up to a climax. I have a one or two measure crescendo for the entire orchestra. The timp starts at the same time. Whole notes tied if there are two measures. But the timp starts at a lower dynamic then the orchestra and crescendos louder. That way you don't hear it come in but you do as it supports the volume change. You definitely hear the timp, but the machine gun effect is covered by the orchestra. The type of tremolo you use depends on the tempo.

In reply to by Jonky Ponky

Try this site from the Phiharmonia Orchestra -

I'm not able to test this right now - it may not do what is required, but equally it might do. One "problem" with this set of samples is that many of them already have "embedded" articulartion - but that may actually be what really is wanted. What some users would like is the ability to notate for an instrumental sound, and also specifiy the articulation, which is really hard to do. On the other hand, some samples - such as the Philharmonia Orchestra's set, have some articulation and rhythm patterns alreay built in. If there's a sound in that set whih fits the need, then use it. If the pitch is slightly off, then use a DAW with pitch shifting to change the pitch to what is wanted. If there is a roll available - which I suspect there may be - then it may also be a requirement to change the duration and the way the sound volume changes over the duration of the newly edited sample.

It would probably be hard to have the sounds fully controllable - or even approximately so - by Midi or MuseScore notation.

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