Tuning EVERYTHING to the root/scale of your track....

Sammy Dexcell

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#1
So as the title suggests, does anyone actually do this, willingly/knowingly??

I never paid close attention to this, but after seeing it done and how successful the finished product was. I've now been at it myself!

I used to just go by ear when tuning all the elements in a track.. But now I tend to bring up an analyser and see exactly where the bulk of a sound is sitting in the frequency spectrum and bring it up or down to the nearest note that coincides with the key of my track.

If you're confused by what I'm talking about here's an example :

Let's say your track is in the E harmonic minor scale. So naturally the notes you can use in your scale are : E,F#,G,A,B,C,D#. Stick an analyser on the master, (Voxengo SPAN is great for this). Play a hi hat and watch for the peak. Hover your mouse over and see the note it's going to, go back to your sample and tune it to the nearest note in your scale orrr if you can and it doesn't sound too wierd, take it to the root... E.
Do that with every percussive element in your track including FX. Kick/Snare. The lot! You will find that the overall feel of the track is just better?

If you've been blissfully unaware of this, like I have for nearly 6years. You've probably been doing this naturally, Get SPAN and go at it more precisely. If you feel it sits nicer on a note not in your scale then so be it. But I've been having a lot of success being particular about every little element in the tune. Overall mixdown comes out much better too.
I even went as far as grabbing an EQ and going to every E (sticking with the previous example) in the frequency spectrum and putting a little peak in it. That didn't work at all though, an made it sound really weird!

Anyway, experimenting with this has opened new doors to a better final sound. So I figured I'd share the knowledge ;)
I'm just going off of the last 2 tracks I've made but so far so good!
 

Quotec

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#3
Hmm, never done that to all my elements in track but I tune all the key elements to the scale I am using. Worth idea, will give it a shot!
 

Dark Lizardro

The Lizard that has a hammer
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#4
I think you'll have to take care of the 2nd and 7th notes there: they're the most dissonant ones. Of course, you can achieve neat results, but i think that a kick tuned to E and a snare tuned to it's 2nd or 7th can sound a little weird.
 

Menosance

aka OSOI
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#5
The only things that I don't keep in key are the kicks, snare and hihats. The rest is all in key even a vocal effect I prefer doing in key.
 

sam the dnb man

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#6
Yeah I starting doing it as soon as I picked up music theory. It made sense.
Sometimes when layering snares I will pitch on up at octave (12 semitones) or by 19 semitones. I like making a chord with reverb tails as well on some sounds as well.
Bounce down a verb. Have the original then have another that is at +3 or +4 then another at +7
 

miszt

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#7
yeah definitly, tuning everything up properly often glues tracks together allot better than not, nothing will drive me to distraction better than an out of tune hi-hat tail, espcially when I go a bit nuts and have 10+ drum kits and cant find the out of tune one lol
 

lostnthesound

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#9
I always tune my kick and snare to either the root key of the tune or a complimentary key at the very least. Voxengo's free SPAN plugin (or any similar plugin) is a Godsend since mousing over the fundamental frequency reveals the key in relation to the respective frequency. That's one thing I love about Ableton's EQ as well.
 

Sammy Dexcell

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#10
Yea man! Originally I saw it being used on the Ableton spectrum analyser. That thing is sooo handy! But as I'm in FL, Span has made a decent replacement!

You're right darkysidro, sometimes it works for the best, but other times just trusting your ears is better.

The last tune I made was in F# so I made my kick hit at around 92hz and the snare was at a really high 370hz. It worked really well for the track though, so I cant argue with it? I'm 100% sure im gonna find tracks where this rule will not apply tho.

I used to, regardless of which key my tracks were in, make every snare hit at 250hz and all kicks were at 100hz no matter what!
I always thought that this was the rule for hard hitting drums. It is and isn't at the same time.
According to the analyser 250hz is a slightly detuned B? And 100hz is a detuned G???

Nearly all our old stuff is D, F or G minor!?!? B's are not in any of those scales!!? So yea, I really dunno how i've been getting away with it all these years! It never really sounded out of place to be fair. If I could open all my old projects I'd like to see if we actually did keep things at 250/100 or by fluke managed to tune it all properly at the last min? I highly doubt it though lol

All i know is that if your kick is on the root of the first bass note the drop feels 101249823714023587023480x more natural!

Btw to clear things up the person i saw doing this was not making dancefloor dnb, it was weird ambient moody down tempo stuff. So it may not apply. I'm still experimenting with it. but thought I'd drop it on you guys see if anyone else has been doing this? Regardless if its the 'correct' way or not, its still pretty damn interesting!
 
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#11
Makes alot of sense really. Ive never been bothered/understood well enough how, to write anything in a scale ever. I tryed once finding a good vst to find root notes when playing samples but they were all pretty useless. Fine EQing or pitching stuff about when im writing fucking kills my creativity. Gunna try and tune a piece which is almost at the mastering stage. Ill A/B my two versions and see the differences. Minor scale are your generally darker, moodier scales right?
 
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Sammy Dexcell

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#12
Makes alot of sense really. Ive never been bothered/understood well enough how, to write anything in a scale ever. I tryed once finding a good vst to find root notes when playing samples but they were all pretty useless. Fine EQing or pitching stuff about when im writing fucking kills my creativity. Gunna try and tune a piece which is almost at the mastering stage. Ill A/B my two versions and see the differences. Minor scale are your generally darker, moodier scales right?
Yea with that free SPAN plugin you can visually see the notes a sample go to. Be it vocals or to a hi hat/fx or anything?
It's quite easy to grasp, just gotta distinguish the peaks. Which in some cases are a bit of a pain.
Melodyne is actually a godsend for anything more than a percussive hit. Say you wanted to know the notes of a piano sample. If you cant tell by playing over the top or cba. Stick it in Melodyne and it can show you! Plus for extra lazyness, it can dish out a midi of the notes (albeit a bit of a clumsy rendition, but still the main notes are there)

An yea, Minor = moody. Major is anything that borders on gay/happy :2thumbs:
FL has a handy thing in the piano roll, a section under chords where you can select a scale type and it can show you all the notes to play in that scale. It's proper useful to get you're head around scales n chords etc. I'm still learning myself and I've been at this for sooo long now it seems!
 

Optimal Prime

Specialising in the arts and crafts of Drum & Bass
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#14
Mefjus does this a lot. I noticed it's quite a bit part of his workflow from a video tutorial I was watching just this weekend actually.
 

miszt

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#15
dont forget that things dont have to be the same frequency, to be in tune, its a great starting point for sure, but harmonics can be far more interesting.

once you have done a bit using the spectral analyzer and got the hang of it, try to switch to doing it by ear instead
 

mr meh

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#16
This is why synthesizing as much stuff in your tune as possible can be handy, as you can get everything to exactly the note you want without messing around pitching samples and potentially spoiling your workflow. Although personally I don't feel its that important anyway, I bet most of these classic tunes (from the 90's for instance) did not have all the samples pitched to the same scale/chord whatever, and they still sound good.

Also I wouldn't be so quick to put all your faith in to those tuner/spectrum analyzer vsts, I've used a few different ones on the same samples before and found they often show different notes! Best thing to do is just use your ears imo, if it sounds good then it is good! (y)
 

alz

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#17
I pitch a lot of stuff but not everything, if I have melodic percussive elements then by all means, I also pitch the kick(s) to the key of the tune too. Some times it's good to have hits that are dissonant or offkey, especially when making things like techno, but that can also be translated to minimal I guess. Hits like cowbells or ethnic drums and such.

I also try to use my ears as much as possible and not rely on a freq analyser, if I need a reference I'll just use a sine wave so I can play the pitch of the note I want to hear the difference. Music can be an exact science, essentially it is just maths, but in my opinion it shouldn't be treated as such.
 

Sammy Dexcell

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#18
Agreed! It's not the be all and end all solution to 'fixing' your tracks. But it's a world that I was previously unaware of! And after knowing, it just clicked in as common sense! Completely overlooked it in the past! :-/
 
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#19
^^This

if your bass is anything more than just a sub and it's hitting the same fundamental as your kick it generally causes phasing and sounds flat
Even with a sub i think a complimentary key works better
 
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