Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

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dominicw78
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Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by dominicw78 » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:17 am

I usually have the strict policy that I must tune a sampled kick to the exact root note of the key of the song, whether they be short, medium or long. This process often really slows me down and can take quite a while to find a suitable kick as I always do tracks in different keys. If I design the kick myself with a synth then there's no problem as I can obviously just choose what note it is. However sometimes I'll want to use a sampled one shot kick for instance.

Most kick samples that I have usually are C or A for some reason, seems to be what they usually get made at. So as I auditioning my kicks and find many that sound wicked and I think are perfect I then throw them in and check them on spectrum or pitch them up and see that firstly aren't in key and that they are far off from the root, so much so that if I pitch up or down to that point they sound completely different.

So if it's a short kick or medium, ie the kind of the used in a breaks or four to the floor, does it really matter if it's tuned to the root note or not? Or is leaving it in the same key fine. I'm always going to tune long sub like kicks to root note as they can usually be made with synthesis easily.

Just wondering what other people do and any advice. At the moment I don't have the luxury of hearing my tracks on club speakers to test them. Whenever I see other people produce with one shot samples I never see them tuning kicks, often they are thrown straight into the arrange without thought.

So if my first impression of a chosen kick is good, then when I play it with bass and it sounds good shall I just go with it? Or down the line is there much chance that I may think I should have spent the time making sure it was tuned perfectly to the root note? Has thhis happened to you? What's your approach?

seattletruth
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by seattletruth » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:53 am

To me it depends if the kick really has a defined pitch to it. If not then it doesn't matter. If its like an 808, then yeah.

Radio Arcade
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by Radio Arcade » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:49 pm

if it sounds good then use it, ive never tuned to key, ive turned the knob until its sound right, might no be in the same key though......
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DangerousDave
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by DangerousDave » Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:56 pm

ive always wondered this too. I have asked about drum tuning on here a few times and never really gotten a concrete response. I have read in a producer mag that the producer being showcased ALWAYS tuned his kicks n drums and said it was a huge deal, but I also know people who rarely tune them unless they are long, sub like, etc.

Additionally, should you tune other shots like snares? they often can be kind of pitchy, and how do you determine the relationship between a kick and a snare?!?!

aaaaah. i hope this gets answered.
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contakt321
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by contakt321 » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:06 pm

I think it CAN help songs.

I don't think you should tune them to the root of the key though, you risk tuning too much. Instead, I find that tuning to one of the chord tones of the key GENERALLY has great results and you RARELY have to tune by more than 3 semitones to do that.

I think it's crucial to use your ears. SOMETIMES tuning your kick brings a certain cohesiveness to the song, SOMETIMES having it out of tune adds a certain roughness that really works.

I don't think snares and such GENERALLY have a pitch that matters, I tune those by what sounds good (not matching notes). YMMV.

ARDJ
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by ARDJ » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:33 pm

i tune EVERYTHING. everything. everything. everything. why? drums talk to each other, drums talk to synths, drums talk to vocals, drums can call & response to nearly any instrument you want if they are tonal. are all drums tonal? nope. Hi hats? usually no, snares? usually no

percs - yes
toms - yes
kicks - YES YES YES YES
latin drums - yes
etc

for kick drums, if you're not making you're own (which i do recommend), what you can do is put your spectrum analyzer on the track. loop the kick drum and look for the resonant peak. You'll usually see it between 47hz - 60hz. Make your spectrum large (double click the window), hold your mouse pointer over the resonant peak and down on the bottm left it will show you where the sub part of your track is resonating. thankfully Ableton's spectrum actually shows you the NOTE as well (ie G0, F#0, etc). use this as your guide to tuning or finding the right kick drum to talk to your bassline/toms, etc.

DangerousDave
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by DangerousDave » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:36 pm

ARDJ wrote:i tune EVERYTHING. everything. everything. everything. why? drums talk to each other, drums talk to synths, drums talk to vocals, drums can call & response to nearly any instrument you want if they are tonal. are all drums tonal? nope. Hi hats? usually no, snares? usually no
totally agree, sometimes you just hear those drum lines that really A. match the song, and B. Theres really a dialogue between all of the sounds. part of this is the sound design yes, but i think tuning plays a part.
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grooverb
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by grooverb » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:02 pm

Quality! That's a nice little lesson :)

I have read about tuning your kick so its a semitone/tone higher so it stands out more, but I guess if you have your sidechaing sorted out shouldn't be a prob

but can't you play your kick so its timbre goes up and down to give an extra dimension to your drums?

ARDJ
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by ARDJ » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:12 pm

grooverb wrote:Quality! That's a nice little lesson :)

I have read about tuning your kick so its a semitone/tone higher so it stands out more, but I guess if you have your sidechaing sorted out shouldn't be a prob

but can't you play your kick so its timbre goes up and down to give an extra dimension to your drums?

the point is if your track is in A for example and your bassline is on the offbeat playing a C note, it will sound like your kick & bass line are playing a bass melody together. It will also sound like your bassline is resolving on the down beat when all it really is is your kick drum :) maybe i should make a tutorial for this

fx23
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by fx23 » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:52 pm

depends on music kind and if kick as a long enough sustained tail.
if somethings sounds good, you don't care, you shouldn't tune just for tune or eq/comp just to feel better.

personally i tune a lot because i make psy, and kick and bass have a strong relationship in that kind of music,
so i arrange for kick's tail to match bass fundamental /key of track.
but i would'nt bother that much for breakbeat/dnb for exemple.

blakbeltjonez
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by blakbeltjonez » Tue Jan 25, 2011 10:22 pm

it definitely can help, especially if it's a kick that has a bit of sustain - tweaking it up or down can make all the difference when you have a bass line that's fighting for the same sonic space.

but if it sounds right straight out of the box, that's great. i tend to experiment though, just to see if it can sound better pitched one way or the other.

cids
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by cids » Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:39 am

A real drummer would never tune his kick-drum to a specific note... but if the kick is synthesized and has an audible pitch then it would make sense...
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ARDJ
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by ARDJ » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:57 am

cids wrote:A real drummer would never tune his kick-drum to a specific note... but if the kick is synthesized and has an audible pitch then it would make sense...

not true (well maybe live) but i worked under an engineer who would always tune the drums FOR the drummer before a session. fact.

dominicw78
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by dominicw78 » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:46 am

ARDJ wrote:
the point is if your track is in A for example and your bassline is on the offbeat playing a C note, it will sound like your kick & bass line are playing a bass melody together. It will also sound like your bassline is resolving on the down beat when all it really is is your kick drum :) maybe i should make a tutorial for this
That's a very interesting idea, I've never considered that. Also I wonder if that could make for a clearer bottom end as the kick and bass won't have the same fundamental tone but will be in key with each other.

The Leveller
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Re: Tuning sampled kick drums, a necessity or not?

Post by The Leveller » Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:43 am

Thats exactly the point, ensuring your fundamentals for bass and kick don't clash.

is it necessary? No. But you'll know when it is.

About live drummers not tuning their drums? No. Professional drummers ALWAYS tune their drums. maybe not to a key of a sing thats being played but to each other yes.

It is different in electronic music though as the kick and bass are the key drivers to a track usually. Some,like Claude von Stroke for example, use just tuned kicks for the whole kick and bassline.

Horses for courses though.

if you want to see a Live tute on the subject you really should check out Timothy Allen's vids at Groove 3, a better explanation of why and how to tune your kickdrums I haven't seen.

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