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Information about Zel
Listen to music created by Zel
Download Zel
Blog
Send zel files or donate
Information about Zel
How it works

The Zel Drum machine enables you to create General MIDI drum tracks simply by picking a style and auditioning from the variations that Zel creates. You don't have to know the Zel language to use this feature. A drum part is made up from "drumpatterns" --12 or 16 beat drum phrases that can be interleaved in different ways. In turn, a drumpattern is made up from "drumfigures"-12 or 16 beat phrases for a single family of drum instruments (for example bass, snare or cymbals). Drumfigures are characterized by a set of frequencies from which Zel uses its "pick list" mechanism to generate variations.

You select the basic style of the drumpart and then audition variations until you find one that is closest to the idea you are looking for. You can then audition at the drumpattern or drumfigure level to make more minor modifications. When you are happy, write the drum part as Zel code. If you wish you can chain drum parts together by writing additional parts to the Zel file.

You can also create new styles (or modify the existing styles) and save them back to the drum machine database. Once a new style is established, Zel creates variations by seeding the underlying random number generators according to the drumfigure frequencies you have defined.


How to create drum parts

Use the Drum Machine menu item to bring up the Drum Machine dialog. First select the name/style (eg-Rock, Swing, etc) of the drum part you wish to use from the list box at the top. You can audition new variations of the selected drumpart. Each variation will have a different seed value shown in the "Seed" box.  You can also change the number of repeats of the constituent drumpatterns, set the tempo and add an ending.

 Auditioning
You can listen to the selected drum part by clicking on the "Play this" button in the audition section of the dialog. If you do not like the drum part, click on the "Play new" button-this will change the seed and play a new variation.

 Short listing
If you like a variation but wish to hear more before deciding, you can shortlist the current variation by clicking the "Shortlist" button. You can cycle through the variations on your shortlist by clicking on the "Review" button.

 Editing
You can change any of the constituent drumpatterns in the drumpart by clicking on any of the "Edit" buttons in the dialog. This will bring up the drumpattern dialog for editing and auditioning. Once you are happy with the edited drumpattern, click OK to get back to the drumpart dialog. Use the "Hold" buttons to prevent a drumpattern from changing when generating a new variation. 

 Saving a style
You can save a style back into the drum part database by giving it a new name and clicking on "Save". The drumpart will now show up on the listing each time the drumpart dialog is activated. NOTE: only the names of the constituent drumpatterns are stored in the database. If you have edited the underlying drumpatterns, be sure to "Save" them also.

 Writing
Write the drumpart into the Zel window by clicking on "OK".


How to edit drumpatterns

A drumpatten consists of one or more drumfigures. The drumpattern dialog is shown when you "Edit" a drumpattern from the Drumpart dialog. When you bring up the dialog, you can change the style (e.g. Rock, Samba, Shuffle) from the various styles in the list box. You can audition new variations of the selected drumpattern. Each variation will have a different seed value shown in the "Seed" box. 

 Auditioning
You can listen to the selected drumpattern by clicking on the "Play this" button in the audition section of the dialog. If you do not like the drumpattern, click on the "Play new" button-this will change the seed and play a new variation. Or you may change the seed manually. 

 Short listing
If you like a variation but wish to hear more before deciding, you can shortlist (i.e. store) the current variation by clicking the "Shortlist" button. You can cycle through the variations on your shortlist by clicking on the "Review" button.

 Editing
You can change any of the drumfigures in the drumpattern by clicking on any of the "Edit" buttons in the dialog. This will bring up the drumfigure dialog for editing and auditioning. Once you are happy with the edited drumfigure, click OK to get back to the drumpart dialog. Use the "Hold" buttons to prevent a drumfigure from changing when generating a new variation. 

 Saving
You can save your drumpattern into the drumpattern database by (optionally) giving it a new name and clicking on "Save". The drumpart will now show up on the listing each time the drumpart dialog is activated. NOTE: only the names of the constituent drumfigures are stored in the database. If you have edited the drumfigures the edited information will be lost unless you have "Saved" the changes you made.

 Exiting the dialog
Clicking on "OK" will exit the dialog. The edited drumpattern will now form part of the drumpart.

How to edit drumfigures

Each instrument of a drumpattern is a drumfigure. You bring up the drumfigure dialog when you "Edit" a drumpattern from the Drumpattern dialog. When you bring up the dialog, you can change the style (e.g. Bossa Nova Cymbal, Samba kick, Shuffle toms) from the various styles in the list box. You can audition new variations of the selected drumfigure. Each variation will have a different seed value shown in the "Seed" box.

 Frequencies
The drumfigure dialog has a set of 8 or 16 frequency settings, depending on whether the drumfigure is a 12 or 16 beat drumfigure. You set the relative frequency of the various beat patterns by setting numbers against the frequencies. A beat pattern with a frequency of 2 it is twice as likely to occur (on average) than a beat pattern with a frequency of 1.  A beat pattern with a frequency of 0 will not sound at all.

 Instruments
Select the instrument for the drumfigure from the "Instrument" list on the dialog. When two or more instruments are listed on a single line (e.g. Snare Drums), Zel will select randomly between the instruments on each beat.

 Auditioning
You can listen to the selected drumfigure by clicking on the "Play this" button in the audition section of the dialog. If the drumfigure is not what you need, click on the "Play new" button-this will change the seed and play a new variation. Or you may change the seed manually. 

 Short listing
If you like a variation but wish to hear more before deciding, you can shortlist (i.e. store) the current variation by clicking the "Shortlist" button. You can cycle through the variations on your shortlist by clicking on the "Review" button.

 Saving
You can save your drumfigure back into the drumfigure database by giving it a new name (optional) and clicking on "Save". The drumfigure will now show up on the listing each time the drumfigure dialog is activated.

 Exiting the dialog
Clicking on "OK" will exit the dialog, the edited drumfigure will now form part of the drumpattern.