Drum Tuning

Updated: Mar 10, 2020

Step-by-step process:

1. Determine key of your project and become familiar with the scale.

This will show you which notes you can pitch towards and which notes you should stay away from.

2. Determine the pitch of your drum sample by finding the fundamental frequency.

Use a spectrum analyzer or EQ eight to verify the pitch of a sample. Hi-hats and noisy instruments produce very rich harmonic content and can be difficult to pinpoint the pitch.

3. Using the fundamental frequency as your reference, begin pitching the sample into key.

There are many ways to pitch a sample. You may find pitch control on samplers that use semitones and cents for more accurate pitch control. Transposition control can be found directly in the sample's clip view. And finally, as a last resort, the frequency shifter device may be used to pitch samples into key.

4. Use sampling algorithms to enhance the effects of pitch shifting.

In Ableton Live, the sample algorithms found within clip view on warped clips allows you to preserve certain information from that sample. Whether you are pitching rhythms, sustained notes or vocals, each algorithm favours a particular type of sound.

Drum tuning tips:

When using a major or minor scale, pay attention to the intervals of a major or minor chord. Creating this interval with the kick, snare, claps, percussion and toms will ehance the emotion of that scale.

For example, when using the C major scale pitch the kick to the note C, pitch the snare or clap to the note E, and pitch percussion or other tonal instruments to the note G. This constitutes a C major chord and will fit perfectly in a C major scale song. This theory may apply to any scale, major or minor.