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 Post subject: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 12:11 am 
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I've been wondering about this one for a while...

I've been watching some tutorials about synthesizing kicks and percussion.
And the guy's always hammering on about how important it is to tune your kicks (and percussion) to the rest of your track.
Now though I'll admit you get pretty awesome kicks when you layer 2 or 3 kicks together,
I can't help but wandering why this is supposed to be necessary while they've done fine for years with just single kick sounds.
I mean, all those drum machines (909, 808,...) had only 1 kick, right ?
Even the modern day replica's like jomox and sorts, that's still only 1 kick.
So why the modern day "necessity" to layer kicks ?

And another thing : how do you tune your percussion exactly ?
I just try and do this by ear, but are there more practical ways to do this ? Some plugin that helps you decide what the note is of your clap/snare/hi-hats/... or hell, even just what note your sample is (in case it's not a percussion sample but just any kind of fiel recording or whatever) so you can decide whether or not it's a note that falls into the scale of the tune you're writing ?

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:56 am 
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No necessity, merely a different option for a different sound.

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:57 am 
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I do everything by ear, if I can`t get it, then I just look at a spectrum analyser, find where the main meat of it sits frequency wise, then consult my musical pitch relation chart.

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 3:27 am 
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you don't have to layer kicks but it's usefull to do it if you want to combine one with punchy attack & another with massive body etc. in that case it's good to tune the layers.
for tuning one shot sounds I use this free little plugin http://tuneit.free.fr or http://gvst.co.uk/gtune.htm
& for bigger loops mixed in key is the key ^^

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 7:58 am 
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I've always wondered about tuning kicks too. I mean, a typical 909-ish kick has a pitch envelope on it. So, what exactly is it's pitch? It varies, depending on what part of the kick you're looking at.

I've personally never bothered with it. I don't have perfect or even relative pitch, so I can't do it by ear. Maybe I should buy some kind of an spectrum analyzer, it might be useful in other applications too.

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:52 am 
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Tune? By ear for me. it doesn't have to be the same note, it can be within desired harmony range as you know.
You're schooled in piano, you do the right thing!

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:16 pm 
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Isn't this a good old case of tweeking till it sounds right?

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:27 pm 
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Statistically music producers will waste 10.27999999 years of their life by layering kicks!
My advice is to enjoy life, spend time with your family, take the dog for a walk. We only get one chance...

I have done a bit of that though in the past, tuning kicks to bass etc and got nice results.. but it kills the flow for me.

Each to their own but if you use something like an mbase you have a certain amount of flexibility but almost instant deep fat kicks.

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:29 pm 
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Mattias wrote:
Tune? By ear for me. it doesn't have to be the same note, it can be within desired harmony range as you know.
You're schooled in piano, you do the right thing!


Best advice for ANYTHING music related.

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:52 pm 
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Hades wrote:
So why the modern day "necessity" to layer kicks ?


I think theres more than one reason and I don't think it's always necessary. Firstly, I think it's part of the general evolution of music production and polishing sounds much more than you used to be able to. Secondly some genres just require it, you won't get a modern (for best or worse) DnB kick easily without layering, techno I think needs it less, but then some styles do benefit (again, for better or worse). I guess it's probably best to remember that not all genres have drum synths as a cornerstone like techno has with the roland boxes.

Hades wrote:
And another thing : how do you tune your percussion exactly ?
I just try and do this by ear, but are there more practical ways to do this ?


First I use a spectrum analyser to roughly match the key of the samples I want to layer (for kicks I don't do this with the tops). I use the arrangement view in Ableton and I make sure I zoom in and try and match the phase of the bits I want to layer as well as I can by fine tuning. I bounce the audio after each tweak. It's taken me fucking ages to get this to the level I'm at now, I'm really shit at it. I'm trying to improve my other percussion sounds now, especially snares...

Theres a good video on this anway, I think it's a sonic academy one, maybe Specktre? I basically do what that guy does.


Barfunkel wrote:
I've always wondered about tuning kicks too. I mean, a typical 909-ish kick has a pitch envelope on it. So, what exactly is it's pitch? It varies, depending on what part of the kick you're looking at.


Basically the decay of the pitch envelope is where the consistent tone is. The initial "thwip" of the kick has a changing pitch like you say. Pitch is probably moot if it's a short, snappy kick.

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:05 am 
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Lost to the Void wrote:
I do everything by ear, if I can`t get it, then I just look at a spectrum analyser, find where the main meat of it sits frequency wise, then consult my musical pitch relation chart.


yeah that's what I would do now.
but I suppose things would go easier if I'd get an EQ with keyboard underneath so I can quickly see which frequency is which note.
Guess I'll just have to upgrade my fabfilter EQ, the new one has that, so that should be helpful.

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:08 am 
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serial wrote:
you don't have to layer kicks but it's usefull to do it if you want to combine one with punchy attack & another with massive body etc. in that case it's good to tune the layers.
for tuning one shot sounds I use this free little plugin http://tuneit.free.fr or http://gvst.co.uk/gtune.htm
& for bigger loops mixed in key is the key ^^


I tried the one that works for mac (the other one is PC only) last night.
I ran a few synthesized kicks (of which I knew the exact frequency/note) and other stuff through it to test how good it worked and I'm sorry but that thing worked like shit (no offence).
thx for the help though. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:29 am 
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Mattias wrote:
Tune? By ear for me. it doesn't have to be the same note, it can be within desired harmony range as you know.
You're schooled in piano, you do the right thing!


well good to hear from you and void (being the old dinosaurs that you are ! :) ) that you don't spend ages on the theory either and just use your ears most of the time !

it's certainly what I do now,
normally I have so called "perfect pitch" (though this doesn't work well for chords) but for percussion that totally doesn't work. I can do this with any real instrument, and most electronical instruments if the sounds aren't too far out of tune.
Which is another thing that sometimes makes me wonder : if you use sounds that are for example made out of 2 or 3 oscillators that are detuned, then how much of all the "stay in key" shit can still be true ?
And definitely in the more non-melodical forms of techno, most sounds are so heavily treated or simply don't have a clear pitch, it seems rather impossible to me to use the "try to stay in the key of your song" advice.
Hell, I've never even thought of whatever key I was writig a track in ?
Sometimes if I add a lead melody to a bass melody or vice versa, then sure enough I'll automatically follow the key the first part was written in, but even then it still depends on which sound I'm playing.

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:37 am 
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Alume wrote:
Isn't this a good old case of tweeking till it sounds right?


that's just the thing.
There's supposed to be ways of just saying for example "now I'll make a track in A minor", and then tune (or synthesize) your layered kick to that, and then you don't need to be tweaking for ages.
You can use the theory and it will sound right.
You're only tweaking till it's right if you don't use the theory. (not that there is anything wrong with that in my opinion, I'm just saying that it all makes me wonder how useful all of this "follow a key" stuff really is for techno)

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 5:43 am 
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he's such a big dick no doubt he simply needs both.

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 11:18 am 
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I usually don't layer my kicks. Sometimes i just layer some transient peak over it but that's it really.

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:40 pm 
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Hades wrote:
Alume wrote:
Isn't this a good old case of tweeking till it sounds right?


that's just the thing.
There's supposed to be ways of just saying for example "now I'll make a track in A minor", and then tune (or synthesize) your layered kick to that, and then you don't need to be tweaking for ages.
You can use the theory and it will sound right.
You're only tweaking till it's right if you don't use the theory. (not that there is anything wrong with that in my opinion, I'm just saying that it all makes me wonder how useful all of this "follow a key" stuff really is for techno)



What I'm trying to say is that somethimes sounds may sound right together while in theory it is wrong.

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:43 pm 
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Hades wrote:
Mattias wrote:
Tune? By ear for me. it doesn't have to be the same note, it can be within desired harmony range as you know.
You're schooled in piano, you do the right thing!


well good to hear from you and void (being the old dinosaurs that you are ! :) ) that you don't spend ages on the theory either and just use your ears most of the time !

it's certainly what I do now,


I don`t think it`s a case of not spending ages with theory, it`s just with experience and time the theory becomes reflexive, instinctive, you no longer need to think about it.

I`m very much like that with EQ, I rarely need to consult a spectra to check my mixes, I generally hit a pretty good frequency spread naturally, just a little check once I think I am nearly finished.

It`s a lovely place to be I think, the "thinking" gets pushed aside, and you can just get on with making music.

Should be the same with you no?

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:13 pm 
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Lost to the Void wrote:
Hades wrote:
Mattias wrote:
Tune? By ear for me. it doesn't have to be the same note, it can be within desired harmony range as you know.
You're schooled in piano, you do the right thing!


well good to hear from you and void (being the old dinosaurs that you are ! :) ) that you don't spend ages on the theory either and just use your ears most of the time !

it's certainly what I do now,


I don`t think it`s a case of not spending ages with theory, it`s just with experience and time the theory becomes reflexive, instinctive, you no longer need to think about it.

I`m very much like that with EQ, I rarely need to consult a spectra to check my mixes, I generally hit a pretty good frequency spread naturally, just a little check once I think I am nearly finished.

It`s a lovely place to be I think, the "thinking" gets pushed aside, and you can just get on with making music.

Should be the same with you no?


well, if it comes to writing melodies, then yes, that stuff comes really natural,
but I don't have that perfect pitch stuff when it comes to percussion and kicks.
I simply can't hear a pitch in that at all. It's just too abstract for my ears.

I'm probably over-theorizing this, but it's just that I've been watching some good tutorials the last few days, and the guy who made them is always hammering on about tuning your kicks.
I actually spent a complete day or 2 making about 100 kicks or so, all layering 3 parts, and indeed they sound pretty nice.
I finished 3 tracks in the last 1,5 months or so (or at least finished them "enough" for the moment, I'm never 100% happy :P ) , which is more than I usually do in a year, so I figured I could spend some time on theory again while trippling my piano playing hours.

anyways, I'm happy to hear not too many people bother with it too much.
When I do, it really gives me the feeling of making music as a pure product.
As if you constantly have to think "in order to have this effect, you must use that technique, and then in order to have that sound pushed forward, you must do this, and then..."
in the end I feel it kind of kills all spontaniousness and creativity.

and I'd walk the dog as mslwte suggested, but I only have the most gentle cat who for some reason started pissing in the hallway, which pisses of my missus, so she's threatenin to kick him out which in effect pisses me off cause I think he deserves some credit after 9 years of loyal (and excellent) service. :D

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 Post subject: Re: layering kicks / tuning percussion
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:13 pm 
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Hades wrote:
in the end I feel it kind of kills all spontaniousness and creativity.


I know where you're coming from, but this is this is the kind of thing I do when I'm not feeling that creative. Sit down with a drink and bash out 2 or 3 tuned and layered kicks. Save them with a key in the file name and then they're ready to drop into another session and will sound good with very little work. I've been using the same 2 or 3 kicks lately because they're all my own kicks and I feel more attached to them for it.

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