Sampling drum sounds.

In this article, we explain how to create your own 'kits' from any drum sounds source.

Using modern sampling technology, it is poassable to create many diffrent presets of drum sounds, created with an infinite variaty of sources. although a random approach to this is fine for one or two presets, it quickly becomes apparent that a more methodical approach will work much better. Outlined here is the process that I adopted for creating the AudioPervert Library of drum sounds.

rhythm aceThe first part of the process involves deciding what to sample to create the desired drum sounds. This decision may have been made already if, for example, you have a drum machine you would like to sample, or a friends drum kit that sounds good. However, sometimes a more lateral approach is required. The main thing is to have a clear goal. For example, you may want to record a very ambient set of sounds, or you may want a very synthetic sound. The idea is to restrict your palette to a reasonable set of sources.This will help you limit the sounds that you record, which will be an advantage when you come to assemble the 'Kit'. Remember that you are not looking for a vast amount of samples, I find that from 10 to 30 samples is enough to deal with at any one time.

I would think of samples as either 'acoustic' (sampled with a microphone) or electronic (sampled through a jack lead or other line level device). You then need to figure out how to record the sounds. This will depend on what equipment and funds you have at your disposal. This may be a computer, a recording studio, a mobile recording rig, a sampler or whatever else you decide to capture the samples on. Be aware that any equipment will colour the sound, so this decision should be taken after listening and deciding what sounds best.

The next stage is the actual recording of your samples. Things to watch out for are background noise (hiss and hum, extraneous sounds) and getting a good clean hit without sounds overlapping. Remember to let the sound decay fully before starting another one, and if possible leave a second or two gap between sounds. There is nothing more annoying than getting a good sample, and then finding that another sample starts in the decay of the sound you want. You may want to sample more than you need at this stage, and then select the best sounds later. If you are sampling acoustic sources or complicated electronic sounds, try to take a multisample at deferent velocities. Hi-hat and snare drum type sounds benefit the most from this. I am of the opinion that there comes a stage with multi sample that you may be better off just recording a real drummer playing, as no matter how many layers of samples you use, if you want a natural sounding drum track the best way is to use a real drummer!

bongoesAfter you have your raw samples they will need to be edited. Do this either in your sampler or on a computer with any of the sound editing programs available. Once you are at this stage, the things you will be doing most are topping and tailing the samples. Make sure that you cut the start as close as you can to the start of the sound, but without cutting off the initial attack. Make sure you listen to how the cut affects the sound, sometimes you may have to leave some low-level transients at the very start , or the sample will change timbre. Likewise, leave a good tail on the end to retain the decay characteristics. You should then end up with a clean and faithful sample of the original sound. You may find that a fade over the end of the sample will make it sound smoother, especially if it has some background noise.

Mapping the samples to midi notes is the next stage in the process. I would recommend following the key that I produced. This is better than the general midi set because [a] it is easier to play on a keyboard, and [b] the key is designed to fit over many different types of drum sound. For example, a normal drum kit and some percussion will fit in the two octave range fine, as will a bizarre collection of strange electronic noises. It is also easy to remember, which makes playing any set of samples intuitive. Finally, it is made to be 'hot swapable', one minute you can be playing an acoustic drum kit, the next a roland drum machine, and then some kitchen implements. All on the same notes. If I have not convinced you yet, maybe you could devise your own layout. I would be interested to know what your template turns out like. Let me know if you have any success!

Here is an the layout of my template...

From c1 (midi note 36)
[kick, snare, kick2, snare2, rimshot/sidestick, kick3, snare3 (7)]
[ride cymbal, metal, crash(3)]
[high-hats closed, open, pedal(3)]
[clap and shaker(2)]
[percussion high/low(2)]
[conga mute, slap, high, low(4)]

(clear pixel for layout)



© AudioPervert  21st Sep 2008