Guitar Drum Map

In the last meeting with my project’s supervisor, two ideas where proposed and it was concluded that both ideas should be examined further.

Thus, the momentary goal is to do further research in both areas and, in so doing, to establish, which idea is most suitable to act as the main topic of the project and, beyond that, of the Master’s thesis.

Idea #1 is described in the following section:

Idea #1 – MIDI Drum Map for guitar

Introduction and Problem Statement

The General MIDI (GM) Drum Map sets standard key assignments for the drums and cymbals in a typical kit, as well as assigning keys to a variety of other common percussion instruments. The main advantage of such a standardized map is that MIDI drum parts can be played on instruments from different manufacturers in the same way, with all the correct drums being triggered.

However, the GM MIDI Drum Map is mainly conceived for pianos or MIDI controllers featuring a keyboard. If one were to use a guitar to play MIDI drums, the standard drum map may prove inconvenient and unnatural when approached from a guitar style of playing.

This drawback leads to the first potential project idea, namely, to create a GM MIDI drum map suitable for guitar and, consequently, to provide guitarists with the possibility to adequately play MIDI drums triggered by a guitar which may be more intuitive for them.


The first challenge is to find or come up with a system that allows notes, played on guitar, to be converted to MIDI in a way that is accurate, reasonably fast and polyphonic. It is important to ensure at least two-voice polyphony since a kick or snare drum and a hi-hat are often triggered simultaneously.

A possible solution could be the GK-3 hexaphonic pick-up by Roland. It picks up the signal from all six strings individually and thus makes polyphony possible. A major disadvantage is that the pick-up needs a special designed cable that fits only Roland guitar synthesizers.

Another solution may be the MIDI Guitar 2 software by Jam Origin which also promises polyphonic guitar-to-MIDI conversion.

Both solutions will be further investigated and tested.

Guitar Drum Map

Once a working setup is found, practical experiments will be performed in order to come up with a drum map suitable for guitarists. These tests will be done by myself and potentially in cooperation with other guitarists that can give valuable feedback on playability and feasibility of the drum map. As a result, the concept of the drum map can be successively refined until an optimal solution is achieved.

In the theoretical part of the Master’s thesis the cooperation with guitarists could be taken one step further by incorporating interviews with guitarists, asking for their opinion and an evaluation of the guitar drum map created. Additionally, interviews could establish if and how guitarists would use the guitar drum map in their music production workflow.

Plan of Action

  • Research setup possibilities
  • Find suitable setup
  • Start experimenting with drum map concepts
  • Find cooperating guitarists
  1. Bitte bei “plan of action” noch ergänzen:
    * Überblick verschaffen über bestehende vergleichbare Produkte (Gitarrensynths, Loopstations, etc. wie in der Sprechstunde besprochen)
    Nur auf dieser Basis können Sie Alleinstellungsmerkmale Ihrer eigenen Entwicklung herausarbeiten.

    1. Okay vielen Dank!

  2. Here’s the link to the ring-controller:

    1. Vielen Dank!

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