Making drums from scratch

Discussion in 'Production' started by smoothassilk, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. smoothassilk

    smoothassilk Active Member

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    I had a go at making my own drum sounds from scratch: I was getting fed up of trying to find the right sample and it just feels a little bit like cheating using someone else's sample, especially a big name sample pack, even though a fair few pros do it...

    I made a kick and snare, but they're not quite right somehow, especially the kick, then put them together with a bass patch I did...

    https://soundcloud.com/scrapheaper/drums-demo/s-zIkVp

    The snare was made by layering a couple of drumatic 3 patches (body and transient) with a my own field recording of a djembe, then resample, then layer more transient and white noise type effect over the top of that, then reverb, limter, compressor, You wa shock, EQ, transient shaper... it got a bit chaotic and I can't even remember everything I did.

    Kick was simpler, layering a drumatic 3 body, transient and highpassed freesound sample of a thunderclap, EQ and compression everywhere

    Anyway, does anyone have any tips? or is just a question of practicing until they sound awesome, fiddling with compressors etc
     
  2. gymnor

    gymnor Member

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    When layering sounds, your biggest enemy is phasing and tuning. I've made a bunch of tunes using only birds samples, so I did exactly that: tweaking a bird to a kick, snare, clap, bass, ... to learn the ins and outs of Ableton. I've noticed that playing a bit with the offset of the different layers can dramatically alter your sound (that's the phasing). Pitching the layers so they match is another thing I had to do in order to get to a somewhat decent and coherent result. Sometimes it can be really beneficial to play with the attack and release for the different sounds, so you cut away a bit of the overlap. A longer attack on the boom for example makes sure the initial onset of the sound doesn't muddy up the initial attack, while a short release on the sound with the strongest attack avoids the blur of that sound to muddy up the fatness of the boom. In sound design the trick is especially to get the right frequencies out without adding too much noise. The more frequencies in your final sound, the less defined your sound will be.

    And most of all: avoid adding too many effects, as too many effects just dilute the frequency information in your sample (as in: risk to muddy up that sound again).

    My 2 cents

    A birds song example:

    Yes, this is only and solely bird samples :) Should do a DnB version actually, that would be a challenge...
     
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  3. smoothassilk

    smoothassilk Active Member

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    Do you use distortion at all? I've been mostly leaving it out if I can, but I've been limiting and that introduces some distortion.
     
  4. gymnor

    gymnor Member

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    Absolutely, using an overdrive of some sort. but I mix it back into the dry channel to beef up the sound. I'd often distort only a small frequency range, helps with accentuating the most agressive bit of the sound.
     
  5. Mania

    Mania i fukin wot m8

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    Yes, warm distortion
    (rather than fuzzy) is a great way to beef them up. Limiter distortion sounds awful though. If you're limiting to the point of distortion, than youre doing it way too much.
    IMO compression will get you better results for drums than limiting will. Sometimes chopping your drum buss with a limiter can give you a nice 'push' effect, adding tails to everything, but even then using a compressor or clipper will do a better job.

    Also, in all kinds of drum beefing, parallel processing will usually give you better results.
     
  6. Sammy Dexcell

    Sammy Dexcell Stop editing my profile Smarty!

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    Two things that have not been mentioned here are the use of pitch and filter envelopes and they're both incredibly useful when making your own drums.

    For a kick I would use a low pass filter envelope with a sharp attack with the resonance hitting the sweet spot of the kicks main dominant frequency. Then you can lower the amount to control the sharpness of the transient etc.
    Same with a snare but instead use a highpass filter envelope and repeat the same steps.

    Pitch envelopes are useful to get a nice punch also. Subtlety is key here in both these techniques. It takes a lot of screwing around to get right! Also run stuff through compressors, maybe resample and layer with other 'sounds' you want in the drums you are trying to achieve.

    Making them from scratch is a very long process and insanely difficult to get as good or as 'fat' sounding as most of the club music that is out today!
    Everyone is having much better results via sample packs? I used to sample my own drums when i first began, actually had access to a drummer at a studio, with a very talented engineer. Over the years they have grown from track to track and now I use them as layers to change/make the character of my snares and kicks different to the norm...
    Good luck though! The key here I found, is the recording of the drums. You need to have good equipment to begin with. No point polishing turds etc..
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
  7. Phobic

    Phobic Member

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    Has anyone tried out the drum synth in machine 2.0? i have version 1 but was thinking of upgrading. I also own arturia spark which are currently revamping to add a drum synth for free for previous version owners. i'll try this out for sure as it's no cost but would like to know a bit about the machine synth before shelling out $100
     
  8. groelle

    groelle Well-Known Member

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    step 1: get good samples
    step 2: layer, eq, compress
    step 3: ???
    step 4: profit

    its that easy.

    ??? equates to develop a hearing for whats needed in your drums and whats not, so keep practising and cross-referncing your drum sounds!
     
  9. Phat_Sam

    Phat_Sam Well-Known Member

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    groelle has the money shot there ^^^

    It's knowing what to look for in certain sounds that's gonna get you where you need to go.

    Layering drums isn't just a case of EQ'ing certain elements in or out of a sound. Remember that what makes a single drum sound the way it does it that it is exactly that; it's a single drum.

    If you're going to layer drums, you need to take into account all the frequency information in each of the samples you are using. Are the samples the same note? If not, are they in the same key and how can you make this work? Does it fit with the key of the track? Is there reverb on one of the samples? If so, can you use a transient shaper to take it out without it sounding weird? Is it already too compressed for the track you're working on? If so, bin it. It won't work.

    Then you have the drum bus itself. Do you add your own reverb and compression to it to personalise it? Or maybe a delay?

    Knowing what you wanna do with the drums is another thing...

    It all comes with practise. Also, don't be afraid of layering your samples over breaks/chopping up breaks over your samples. It happens to the best of us and tbh... some people are dead against it... but they're wankers. Learn from the best and use sampled breaks. Especially if you're just learning. I think a lot of people tend to forget that sampled breaks are so good because you get that beautiful human element in them that you obviously cant get unless you have a drum kit, a way of recording the kit and a pretty decent drummer to hand...

    Anyway... I'm pissed and probably rambling far too much. Enjoy.
     
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  10. Mania

    Mania i fukin wot m8

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    This this this this this.
    I do this all the time, love it. Using break layers can give your break infinite character and heaps of flexibility. You can only do so much with your own samples, and using 3rd party stuff opens up infinite possibilities.
     
  11. logikz

    logikz I Am Not The King Staff Member

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    i dont know, i mean what are drums anyway, specially drummachine drums. how some of these sounds came to be accepted as "snares" or "congas" is beyond me, the 80s laser tom that sounds like a moonraker laser, the classic drummachine snare thats just a burst of white noise, i mean nothing natural sounds like that, no instruments sound like that. unless you record them through very strange signal chains on extreme settings. anything can sound like a burst of white noise if you do that. or a laser.

    noise is fundamental when making drums from scratch. pitch up and hp for hihats (good starting point actually), pitch to middle and do some transient shaping for snare, and the kick is a bass note. so basically pitch noise, filter it differently, do envs, layers and transient shaping.
    they will still be layers you designed yourself, one layer for transient, one layer for tail, one layer for low freq thump, etc, thats for the snare for example.
     
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  12. smoothassilk

    smoothassilk Active Member

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    That's essentially what I've been doing, but mixing with one extra actual sample for character. I'm really liking drumatic 3 for making all the separate parts, I just tweak all the settings to try and get the hardest transient and the perfect phat noise for weight separately, then bounce and mess about with EQ, compression reverb etc.
     
  13. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    Holy shit...why I have I never thought of this. It makes perfect sense. Big up man, you definitely just gave me a bit of a "a-ha" moment.

    Cheers.