Just Want To Say Something About Synthesizing A Bass Drum In Renoise


Lately I tried to synthesize a bass drum with a simple sine wave pitched down in Max MSP and I realised that for about three years of music creations and experimentations, all the bass drums I used to synthesize were kind of soft.

Softness can be a quality that you want your bass drum to own, but in a lot of case I didn’t want to and just didn’t realise that until now.

I don’t want to accuse anybody out there because that must be just a misreading from me but I remember reading in this forum that a cool way to obtain a bass drum with Renoise was to sample a sine wave, going into the pitch envelope and lift the pitch at the very beginning of the envelope in order to create some kind of attack, then render it to sample again, re-lift the pitch, etc… until you get a bass drum that suits your wishes.

After reading this thread, every time I wanted for a synthesized bass drum (hopefully not every time I wanted for a bass drum, thanks the sampling way :lol: ), I used this method because I found it good and versatile.

The idea of the method actually works, but the way I used it, i.e. at the tempo of my current song, introduced a problem : even if you lift the pitch +12 semitones at the line 0 of your envelope, and let it to current pitch (+0 semitone) at line 1 of your envelope, which is the faster pitch sweep you can achieve with this method, the time taken by the pitch to sweep down is way too long if you want your bass drum to have a decent attack. It’s late and I don’t want to calculate if a maximum tempo and speed in Renoise could provide a good time precision for that achievement, but what provides a very percussive bass drum in Max MSP is a pitch going from more than 10kHz to a pitch suitable to the bass drum in about one millisecond (this is just an example).

Actually a lot of my bass drums use to sound kind of poppy because of that technique (listening to that track is a good example, but it actually doesn’t matter as the sound of my kick here was far to be the only sound on which I had a lack of control and professionalism).

So, once again, I’m not saying that it ruins my past compositions because I just should have realise it and find out a way to make better synthesized kicks. I actually use to believe too hard in sound and music “miracle recipes” because I didn’t know everything about all that stuff before beginning to make electronic music.

What I just want to do is in one hand telling a story that I think is funny and has a morale (–> don’t believe about miracle recipes and just take advices as they come without making them a rule) and in the other hand telling the beginners that the laps of time between two lines in a reasonable BPM/speed in Renoise is not efficient to achieve pitch sweeps that will make it for a powerful kick.

That was long, sorry
but it was funny to write it,

Using the pitch envelope for this is for n00bs, use the 02xx effect.

Also, it helps to layer the sound with a click from some other source, like a really short pulse wave.


nonetheless, he is right about the speed/envelope relation in renoise.
so i guess even if you use the pattern commands you would need a high lpb/bpm value to get 1 row = 1 ms. right?!

and a bit more blabla:
take the pitch command 02ff that would be ~ 16 semitones down. when we use a sine at ~ 10khz
at the row right after the command, there would be a sine that has still a ~ 4 - 5 khz pitch.

EDIT: d’oh …, why do i forget the multiple effect columns we got in renoise?! nvmnd

Aaaargh why bother with so much effort to get such a underwhelming result? Reasonable options:

  1. Get a reputable VSTi drum machine plugin and tweak your own kick drum, hey look no re-rendering!
  2. Find some wicked high quality samples, either in packs or to go into sampling engines like kontakt.
  3. Get a real drum machine. Analogue soul.
  4. Record a real kick drum, or other weird and wonderful bass-percussive sounds out there in the real world.

It reads like you need to purchase Angular Momentum’s KickLab XXL http://www.amvst.com/node/2
This is the same company that makes the absolute best $10 VSTi you could ever buy, Freehand http://www.amvst.com/node/14

Thanks, I didn’t know this trick and never thought about !

Didn’t know these synths too and will check them out if they got a demo version. I’ve always liked cheap underrated technical solutions. Also I’m curious about the possibilities provided by wavetable synthesis and never really dug it. Freehand could be good for me :)

i must have misjudged you. i always took you for the kind of guy who’d rather synthesize his own drums from raw waveforms than use samples. i’m not saying one is better than the other, i just figured you’d enjoy the challenge and the ‘purity’ of it or something. what are your objections against synthesizing your own drums? what do you mean with ‘underwhelming result’? i’m curious.

Nah, give me the speed of a well recorded kick drum any day. I’ll occasionally tweak the attributes of a drum synth. But my days of proving my nerd quotient with bending/effecting simple samples to make the rather ordinary and conventional sounds I’d aim for anyway… are over. I only do what I need to do. I’m no Autechre (or insert bleeding edge sonic adventurers here) wannabe. Most of the time I’m using sliced kicks from breaks, or recently I’m using the ‘metal kick’ from the Steven Slate Drums set.

I’m only a nerd when it comes to mixing and mastering, and even then compared to some I’m pretty tame. Where I tend to put my effort in is with atmosphere and ambience.

goddamn, i checked out those drum samples, and though they sound really good, i have a problem with paying that much money for some samples. this is probably in my head, as i am undervalueing samples because i see them as ‘a couple of files’, but be that as it might i would still want to have a lot more money to spare before i’d spend it on these.

Bought the SSD set through the AudioMidi “No brainer deal” which was very affordable. Years ago I shelved out more for the Jamstix set, and at the time was well useful for me. I’d happily fork out for a good new set in the future. In fact, I’m in need of some better dry high hat samples, so I won’t hesitate to make the investment when I see the opportunity.

This is what you do in the face of compromise. I can’t afford nor have the time to record a real drum kit with fabulous mics / pre-amps / hardware etc, and I probably couldn’t find a drummer that can do what I want them to do (Gavin Harrison comes close sometimes). I’m just a little guy in a country town, spending a bit on nice samples is just right. Not much money when you equate it to its equal portion in coffee or alcohol.

Funnily I almost made that exact comment when I saw rhowaldt say he had misjudged you ;)

well, i don’t drink a lot of coffee or alcohol, so that comparison does not fly for me. however, i understand where you are coming from. i might come to a point where i want great quality drum samples (the Led Zeppelin set on that site winked at me goddamnit), but for now i’m pretty content with my medium/low quality stuff. in the end it all depends on what you do with it and what kind of sound you are going for, i suppose. but (to quote Radiohead), i might be wrong.

you are both Guruh Motha Fakka’s, so it’s only logical you know each other better (online) than i do. i should really ask myself why i judged so early on in the first place :)

Referring to the original post, it’s also possible to make nice kick drums from a clicky sine. Just take a 1-2 second sine and add, paste, draw a click at the start, then use the 2XX command to pitch slide it. Or you could use and FM synth. Or use an FM synth to make a fairly clean instrument like a marimba-type sound and then pitch slide that. I’ve done all of these before. When you get stuck with no inspiration, creating your own kicks/snares/hihats etc is a great way to spend the time, in my opinion.