Recommendations for Drum Accompaniment


I’m new to Cantabile, moving from Forte. I’m looking for recommendations or suggestions for drum accompaniment while practicing (although live use is a possibility).

Basically I’m looking for a ‘drum machine’ to practice with. I’m thinking about a drum VST that has a quick and simple way to pick a drum groove and tempo. Ideally with a good sounding drum VST and the ability to save the groove/tempo as a ‘song’.

I tried out Band In A Box, but it was way more than I wanted/needed. I’ve also played around with MT Power Drum Kit, but I can’t seem to be able to ‘save’ the patches/grooves. I’ve read about some others JamStix, EZDrummer, etc., but I’m looking for some recommendations. It seems most of the apps are designed to create tracks for a DAW - not for live accompaniment.

Thank you,

  • David

Topiary Beatz - - I made it for exactly that case. You load a midi drum pattern (or several) in it, route to a drum sound source and there you go.

You can even load “variations” (like fills, intros, outros) midi clips in it, and then you can control it like an arranger.

And it’s free …


I use EZ drummer a lot. It’s a great program and works well with in Cantabile with the transport controls. However, I must warn you that it’s a bit of a black hole if you are not careful You get a lot of kits and midi files with purchase, but they sell add packs that you will be tempted to keep buying.

  • Paul

I would vote for EZDrummer all the way. Sound expansions are kinda expensive but you probably won’t need any. Midi expansion kits are fairly reasonable though, plus you can use any GM drum MIDI with probably a minimum of tweaking.

I’ve used EZ Drums in a live situation, but I pre-planned what midi files I used and set the tempo. There is also UJAM. It is probably the easiest to control live as it uses key switches for fills and slight beat changes(for choruses, or bridges). The drums sound good, and there are modifications to those sounds, which can also be changed on the fly.

Didn’t think of UJam. They can work great if you, say, set up pads or buttons to change between patterns and fills.

May be Jamstix is an option too. I prefer it to all of those MIDI file drummers especially now that I can use it with the Melda Drum Empire 2020 library.

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Thanks for the recommendation Tom! I read thru the documentation - very interesting project. The author is a big fan of Cantabile too!

I’ve installed beatz, but it doesn’t come with MIDI drum loops. Can you recommend a good source for midi drum loop files?

Cheers - David

I’ve downloaded a trial version of EZDrummer 2, but haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Thanks for the recommendation!

I haven’t heard of UJam before. I will check it out. Cheers!

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Drum loop files: google is your friend.

Author of topiary Beatz is indeed fan of Cantabile - I’m the author :slight_smile:.


I’ve used Jamstix for Hammond organ trio practice. I don’t know how much time and learning effort are needed for the other drum apps/VST’s recommended, Jamstix is actually a very sophisticated drum “brain” that the developer has been working on a long time.

When I first started using it the drumming was much busier than I anticipated and sometimes somewhat wild. Once I learned to tame it down I’ve been getting good results.

If you ever decide on Jamstix go to the forum and post a video link to what you’re trying to achieve with it and the developer, Ray, and several other active forum members will help you.

What’s good about Jamstix is the drumming isn’t static, the Jamstix “player” will do things slightly differently (if you don’t lock the part down) each play through but not randomly, it’s things an actual drummer would do. In fact you assign drummer styles through choosing the player, Gavin, for example and that “player” will tend to play in the style that drummer is know for.

Here’s an older thread post I wrote about Jamstix: Using Jamstix 4 with Cantabile3


XO from XLN audio is excellent if you like samples. It’s on sale right now too. Amazing software.

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UJAM and BFD are my drum tools

I was either the first or second ever post on Ralph’s user forum. The product has come a long way since then. Was using it with Toontrack’s DFHS sounds in the early days…

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XO is “Xcellent”. If you have lots of sample hits especially but hate digging through them.

I think Corky is available between the hours of 9 pm and 1 am for the right price :grin:

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Those are my normal hours…for sure. :grin:


I bought a few Jamstix add-ons to improve the built in drum sounds and get more player styles. At first I was mapping it to Superior Drummer but once I had the Bonzo Pak I just stick with that - the kick, snare, toms and hi-at are good enough for rock.

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Hi Tom,
I finally had some time to play around with Topiary Beatz - very nice! Sorry I didn’t realize you were the author!

I did use Google to help me find drum loops, but organizing them is proving to be a challenge. I think I might need to load some of the loops into a DAW and parse them for Intro, Verse, Chorus etc. Is that typical?

I have a question about saving various styles in Cantabile. Is it typical to save them as Songs or as PlugIn Snapshots? I should state that, at this point I am running Topiary and MT Power Drums on a separate machine/instance of Cantabile. Basically I have a ‘dedicated’ machine for drums. It’s not ideal, but I found I was having issues with latency when I tried to run all my keyboard VSTs and the drums on the same machine.

Thanks for any advice - and thanks for Topiary!

  • David