Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A quick guide to modeling some drums on the V-synth

Warning: This post is for V-synth and synth experts.

First set up your split point ZONES. You will end up with over an octave of drums. If you have a drum patch set up elsewhere you can borrow it. I won't tell you exactly how to do everything. You should use your ears and spectrum analyzer software. If your are new to V-synth, consult your manual. I will provide the core building blocks of doing realistic drums. Drums are highly dynamic. You should use the velocity curves and sharp envelopes whenever it makes sense.

General tips:
In general, "the snap" or attack of most drums is created by fast pitch decay.
Most drum sounds shouldn't be perfectly tuned and ring out. They won't sound real.
Most of the harmonic content will be noise.
Many drums should dampen reasonably over time with a LPF & Env (26-50)
Google the harmonics and mesaurements of drums to get close. Use your spectrum analyzer.
If you have any real life instruments to play with, or have samples to use as references, tuning will go a lot faster.
"Pitch KF" can screw with your zone tuning.
There are 500 memory slots. You can save different working versions and create many drum sets. Recompile your favorite sounds into the "Ultimate Drum Set."

The Bass Drum
  • Structure 1, A SQUARE WAVE + Sub osc (slightly lower volume).
  • -39 Pitch, Curve 2, Sens 48,  Env Depth 26, Decay 18, Sustain 0, LFO +12
  • LFO Fade 55, 116 rate, Sin
  • Pulsewidth LFO +42
  • Detune + 59
  • TVA Decay 85, Curve 2
  • COSM Lowpass filter
This uses the two square waves like membranes. The LFO creates the wobble of a big drum. The Envelopes give the snap and decay. I'm not sure there is much of a beater sound going on. You can always resample the oscs into one osc, then use the free one for a new element.

The Snare Drum

This one is a bit more difficult. We are using the feedback oscillator to create the ring of the shell. The noise is the snare. We run it through the lowpass filter to make it more like a sine wave. next we are using the Banjo resonator. The banjo has a shell and drum like membrane. That is perfect for tuning the rest of the drum head and more resonance.

Goals: What do we want to emulate? The membrane oscillation (feedback osc), snare noise (noise osc), Shell ring (resonator) and then it dampens (with the lowpass filter) because everything is so tight. We also want some "snap" in the pitch envelope. We can also randomize the pitch to emulate different stick hits in different locations on the drum head if you want. Here is what I tried:
  • Use Structure 1
  • Turn harmonics all the way up. Tune to your prefence
  • Modulate feedback amount with key velocity
  • Cosm 1 uses a longer decay lowpass filter, Env Depth +55, -6db, 109 Resonance. This muffles the sound.
  • Cosm 2 Banjo. Use a lower resonance and 50% balance. Tune to your prefence.
  • TVA, Fast attack < 10 and Decay about 40.
I am not going to give you the exact tuning for this one. Experimentation gave me a wide range of membrane tones and shell ringing. I have tuned mine to sound like my real life Yamaha Snare. I also have one with more ringing for rock. I have a third snare zone which is a clunkier sound, like a rimshot! It is all a study and experiment. I do not know what happens before I try it. I did use a lot of envelopes which are too numerous to list. I couldn't believe how cool it was.

Also...I was able to modify the above formula to make a woodblock tone. I switched to a triangle wave, and turned the resonator to guitar (wood), and turned its resonance very high. I also retuned everything. We are doing some real physical modeling now! Supernatural Drums, eat my dust!

The Cymbals

It is really difficult to make good cymbals. If you get anywhere close, you deserve a reward. You could save a lot of time by just using samples. This is what the TR-909 did. If you want to reduce aliasing, you could use a low pass filter on the sample (V-synth aliasing critics can shut their mouth now, haha!). What I tried:
  • Feedback oscillator
  • Noise oscillator
  • Frequency Shifter
  • HPF/LPF dual filter
  • FM Mod
  • Fast envelopes
Many people have given up. At least give it a try. It will still sound a bit electronic I think.

The Toms

You can make a really quick and dirty Tom by running the triangle wave through the Frequency Shifter COSM. Fast attack and some pitch env. Frequency shifter set low. Usual attention to fast envelopes and curve dynamic.

The FX
I use the Dynamic Compression (4:1 or 2:1) and Hall Reverb. I adjust the FX for each drum zone. Also set panning. Redo any velocity or amp envelopes. Listen to real drums and retune your zones.
If you want a really secret tip, I will sometimes run these drums through the Guitar Amp MFX and set the gain low, to model a tube amp. Green Day apparently used a tube preamp. With the gain up, you can hear all the frequencies combining to create more complex tones. You don't always want them to ring out in perfect tune. You could also try to match tunings and the overall characteristics of old break beats this way.

Good luck. You could come up with all kinds of drum sounds now.

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