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Tuning Kick Drums

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Tuning Kick Drums

Postby McElson » Thu Nov 15, 2012 2:00 am

Can anybody help with this?

I'm looking for an RTAS drum synth that tells you what frequency or note you're in, has exponential envelopes and that is a good all round drum synth. I've watched some great tutorials where they design and layer kick drums from the bottom up, but they use drum synth's that show you the exact key that they're in and that are not available as RTAS plug ins, one was the Waldorf Attack and the other was Ultra Beat.

I've looked at Punch and it does look good but (I may be wrong because I only had a brief look) but it merely tells you by how much you can pitch up or down a sample, not the original frequency? This is the same problem I've had with other drum synths and when layering samples, I've tried tuning with a piano sound and that is quite good but I want to be more precise and know that they are in tune for sure. :headbang:

I'd be grateful for any pointers!!

Many thanks, Mark
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Re: Tuning Kick Drums

Postby oggyb » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:54 am

I usually just twiddle the knob til it sounds like the key note in the piece. It's imprecise and has almost never yielded an actually key-note kick drum, but it always sounds comfortable when I do it that way.
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Re: Tuning Kick Drums

Postby N WILLIAMS » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:20 am

I bought Punch and I don't really use it. Professional sample banks are the best for kick drums. Look at www.loopmasters.com or www.vengeance.de.

At least you know with samples the right eq and compression have been used.
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Re: Tuning Kick Drums

Postby McElson » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:28 pm

OK, nice one.

thanks for getting back to me!
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Re: Tuning Kick Drums

Postby McElson » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:32 pm

Thanks for getting back to me, appreciate it.

That's the technique I've been using up until now but of course you still have to tune the drums, which leads me back to my original point. Lots of things that I'm reading at the moment talk about layering drums, layering frequencies, so I'm just looking for the most accurate way of doing this really, knowing the frequency not thinking you know and not.

Thanks again for getting back!

All the best!
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Re: Tuning Kick Drums

Postby Andy-F » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:46 pm

Im not very clued up on RTAS plugins but if you can get Sonic Charge Microtonic or Synapse Audio EKS Pro i think you'll be happy with the results.

It all depends on the style of track\kickdrum you're using. If after the initial pitch mod your kick plays on the sustained frequency, then that part will always work better if tuned to your tracks root note

Using the chart bellow for example.. If the track is in the key of A then the sustained frequency of your kick should be 55hz

Ive always used a chart
http://0.tqn.com/d/piano/1/0/L/F/-/-/Piano-Key-Names-SPN_small.png

Note this isnt applicable to every style of music or production. But generally if that kick is playing more than a quick pitch drop, it'll sound better tuned.

Usually what works for me is creating the foundation of the kick using a synth, then layering high passed, enveloped, tuned and phase aligned sampled kicks (or other perc if it works) on top
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Re: Tuning Kick Drums

Postby Combo » Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:42 am

McElson wrote: Lots of things that I'm reading at the moment talk about layering drums, layering frequencies, so I'm just looking for the most accurate way of doing this really, knowing the frequency not thinking you know and not.
Getting samples of the same note is only part of the problems with layering. Getting them in phase is also important. Layering samples up in audio lets you do this fairly easily. It will also let you see if they are in tune with each other. (Not forgetting that many drum sounds change pitch over time.) Once you have a sound layered up to your liking, it is a simple thing to drop it in a sampler and play with the pitch till it sounds right with your track.
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Not an expert.


Re: Tuning Kick Drums

Postby Wease » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:40 am

when using real drums, i usually tune the kick to the root note key of the song (or thereabouts....if I'm recording a number of tracks for an ep lets say, i'd look at each song and if there wasn't a fundamental difference in key between each one (which is normal...most singers have a good key to sing in, people like to play in familiar keys etc etc) then i'd find a suitable note to stick with) .

Id also tune the front head to either pitch down, pitch level or (more unusually for me due to taste reasons) pitch up.....taking into account how I've pitched the toms etc etc

So - you might want to apply this concept to your layering.....you may want your attack to pitch at root, with an underlying sub pitching down (say a semitone)...sometimes making this effect extreme (like a bass drop)

I'd seriously have a look around the net for good real bass drum tuning video's or articles...and techniques from mags like Modern drummer.....and see if you could apply these techniques to your drum layering....it might just give you the difference you're looking for.

Zukan's (eddie Bazil) drum layering article in this months SOS (i think it was this months??) is also a good place to look
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Re: Tuning Kick Drums

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:42 pm

Wease wrote:Zukan's (eddie Bazil) drum layering article in this months SOS (i think it was this months??) is also a good place to look

Yes indeedy - Eddie's Layers Of Complexity: The SOS Drum-layering Masterclass is in the current (November 2012) issue, while the on-line version is here for subscribers:

www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov12/articles ... rclass.htm

It's a mammoth 7-page feature with plenty of on-line audio examples to go with it, and an extremely good read! 8-)


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