View Full Version : Drum Synthesis

08-11-2009, 08:16 PM
Hey, I want to play around with synthesizing drums, and am wondering if anyone had any tips or decent resources to start with. I'm looking to do this with a standard synthesizer setup; ASDR Envelopes, Filter, Modulation, LFO, OSC, etc. Thanks! :D

08-11-2009, 08:27 PM
Well, bass drum is easy. Sine wave, and set the pitch to be controlled by envelope so it quickly goes from high to mid and then slowly from mid to low. if you look at the waveform of a bass drum, that's essentially what you'll see (tho there's usually timbre and stuff). Toms are about the same, just with a slower envelope. If you can't control pitch with the envelope, you can substitute it with filter, at max or almost max resonance. Dunno what wave it'd work with then, maybe noise.

Hihats can also be synthesized easily, tho I'm not sure how. I know I've seen and heard hihat patches that come as presets for some of Logic's built-in synths. Shouldn't be hard to do with other synths either, all you need is basically something noisy in the high range and a bit of touch (a 150-200ms envelope decay and a sustain at less than 100%), maybe a click as well (if you have two envelopes at your disposal, a 5ms decay would work on the one controlling the filter, which should be a little under 100% so the envelope actually does something).

Shaker, technically not a drum (dunno if cymbals technically count as drums) can easily be synthesized, all you need 9s white noise and some filtering. I've done it (http://www.ocremix.org/remix/OCR01887/). Envelope controls filter, and bit of resonance on the filter gives the it a little more definition. You might want to do a low cut on it to get rid of the lower frequencies that you don't need. Again, 150-200ms decay works for giving it a bit of punch, sustain settings and note length vary with how you want to use it.

Can't help you with snare, tho. Haven't figured it out yet.

08-11-2009, 08:54 PM
A common snare sound can be achieved with a relatively short noise burst and the tom/bass drum sound Rozovian mentioned.
You just have to find the right pitch and envelope settings for the tom sound and might have to tweak the combined sound with a lowpass filter to make it sound like a unit.

Generally, you have to make sure that the synth you're using has fast enough envelopes to manage decent percussive sounds. Flexible routings are good as well, in case you want to control 2 oscillators via 2 different envelopes or filter them separately, for example.

I don't know, drumsounds just boil down to a percussive character...just make sure it goes 'ZAP' or 'Boom' or 'Tchik'. Your weapons are volume and pitch envelopes. Experiment :)

08-12-2009, 01:42 AM
Thanks guys :D

I'll play around with these tips and see what I can come up with.

Thanks again!

08-12-2009, 04:08 PM
Alright, I played with what you guys had told me. They worked out great! Essentially I created the kick, and decided to add a little noise to the beginning, and boosted a little tube distortion. I then copied that patch, and increased the decay to get that tom tom sound, and added a noise with a longer decay to get a snare. If you mix it right, it still might sound like crap, but like Nase said, if you use a low pass filter, it combines the sounds into a solid snare. I added a high-pass filter to get rid of some of the mud on the snare. The hi-hat I just used some noise with a high-pass filter. These turned out pretty dang good. Thanks again guys :)

08-12-2009, 10:12 PM
Protip: layer. If you can't make a kickdrum at once, use two parts - one for the click, the other for the oomph.. Snare is a self-oscillating lowpass with noise. Clap is an envelope with short decay controlling LFO speed from high to low.

Also, http://insidesynthesis.blogspot.com/ has a video with synthetic percussion.