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Tuning a kick drum sample, with high velocity response...


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Hey all,

 

I'm working on a piece I wrote, and there are some tuning issues I'm trying to address. It has some wonderful blue notes in the piano solo, but they are clashing a bit too much with an organ part. I'm addressing that with a rewrite of the organ part, but I'm struggling to get the kick drum to sit right.

 

I don't have the luxury of a real drummer, so I'm using the Steven Slate Drums plugin. I found a kick/snare combo that I like, and to make the part dynamic, there is a wide range of velocity on the hits. This doesn't just affect the amplitude, but the pitch of the kick as well.

 

So if I were to "tune" the kick, how would I do that if the velocity response is throwing the pitch around? Does a real kick drum behave the same way (i.e. harder or softer hits raise or lower the pitch)?

 

Should I just move the tuning control until the kick fits best? I'm not accustomed to drums having this wide of a pitch response to velocity.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Some music can have tuned drums of course but for most music types, drums are felt more then they are heard.

 

Without a posted example I cant give you any detailed suggestions and those suggestions have allot to do with the musical composition and the way you build your mix. I usually build my mixes using the drums as a foundation, mainly because the drums cover the entire frequency spectrum and its easier to notch out areas in that wide response then it is to build a wide response drum part around existing instruments. Some of that notching winds up being natural because there is open space between the various drums. The rest can be done with a certain amount of help using comb filter techniques and special separation.

 

Building a drum part after your main tracks are already recorded is much harder, at least for me. I'd be more tempted to use tap pads and key the parts in manually. If I had a click track I could use it to align parts afterwards. The thing I could do by this method is scroll through many different kits and select the best components that fit the mix best.

 

I wouldn't have a clue whether a kick would be just right until I had all the tracks recorded including the bass tracked. When I record I only mix things enough to be heard clearly. What ever I mix before I record a track is pretty much a waste of time before I have all the tracks done because with each new part you have to make room for it to make it fit.

 

Its like getting on a plane first. you may hope you have that row of seats to yourself, but until that door closes you don't have a clue how much room you may wind up having - (for those keyboards or your drums).

 

After the bass is tracked I could judge the pitches between the kick and the bass better. Those two have to work together, but there is allot of flexibility. You can scoop a drum and boost a bass frequency to give them contrast or vice versa. Pitch only matters in developing the drum size. A small set will have small shells and higher pitches compared to large shells and lower pitches. Pitch affects the bigness by how much bass they produce. Its the bass guitar that is responsible for giving the low notes pitch. The kick simply adds velocity and power, (much of which gets lost during mixing anyway)

 

I do have an a Zoom 123 electronic drum sets that has tunable drums which makes tuning the kick an easy task. I've used it on occasions where I want things to fit better but its not an essential tool for me. It does help if the bass notes are being masked .

 

Masking occurs when you have two instruments competing for the same frequency response and/or the same pitches. Turning on up blocks the other from being heard. If the drums are too closely matched in pitch and frequency response you only have space and time to separate them so both can be heard. Panning and using reverb to create sense of depth are your only real options. Reverb pre delay shifts the transient so the two don't occur at the same time. Reverb length can sustain the length of the notes too. The reflection time develops a room size and the ears are able to tell the dry sound from a delayed sound as a sense of one being close and one far away.

 

You mention the two keyboards are having a problem coexisting in the mix. My question would be is it an actual tuning problem or a musical composition issue. The two will need different fixes. If its a matter of notes crossing over and masking each other, Reverb and EQ again can be used to create a separation between them.

 

The only other thing I suggest is do your best to separate instruments so they don't mask each other in mono before panning things in stereo.

you can find all kinds of faults by doing this and have stereo mixes that sound much better once you pan the parts out.

 

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Hey all,

 

I'm working on a piece I wrote, and there are some tuning issues I'm trying to address. It has some wonderful blue notes in the piano solo, but they are clashing a bit too much with an organ part. I'm addressing that with a rewrite of the organ part, but I'm struggling to get the kick drum to sit right.

 

I don't have the luxury of a real drummer, so I'm using the Steven Slate Drums plugin. I found a kick/snare combo that I like, and to make the part dynamic, there is a wide range of velocity on the hits. This doesn't just affect the amplitude, but the pitch of the kick as well.

 

So if I were to "tune" the kick, how would I do that if the velocity response is throwing the pitch around? Does a real kick drum behave the same way (i.e. harder or softer hits raise or lower the pitch)?

 

Sure it does. :) The harder you hit the drum, the more the head stretches and the higher the pitch goes... but in the real world, the effect is somewhat subtle. It sounds like it might not be quite subtle enough ATM for you.

 

 

Should I just move the tuning control until the kick fits best? I'm not accustomed to drums having this wide of a pitch response to velocity.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

That's what I'd try. I'd also go in and see if there's a way to narrow down the amount of pitch range if that seems a bit much to you.

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Thanks guys. I'll give it a try. I don't know that I can adjust the pitch characteristics, but I might also try limiting the velocity range in the MIDI track, and then adding some dynamics with an expander.

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