Bonus tip to accompany Acoustic Augmentation from the Keyboard July 2012 issue
Thu, 31 May 2012
You Call That a Snare Drum?

In ancient times, before nearly every recording of a snare drum got augmented with samples, engineers would key white noise (from a synth or a test-tone generator in the mixing console) off of snare drum hits to get a more interesting sound. They’d simply run the noise source through a gate with the snare drum track as the sidechain input, and voilà: Instant ’70s disco!
***Click on the image below to download a larger version.

Here, I do a modified version of that where I convert the snare track to MIDI using Massey DRM drum replacement software. The MIDI is used to trigger a synth that is set to a noise patch with a volume envelope that’s similar to the envelope of the snare drum. It’s important that you get the decay and release set in a way that blends with the snare properly. Set it too short and you’ll get a funny noise; set it too long and you might have the beginnings of a fake handclap track. I often bandpass-filter the noise so that I don’t get excessive “woosh” or messy rumble. A fixed filter can be especially effective in getting the noise to sound drum-like. At times, I also use a subtle phase shifter to help tune the noise, as well as to add a bit of movement through slight modulation of the delay time. If the snare doesn’t feel percussive enough, I sometimes add a second synth that just plays a very quick, attack-y thud.  I usually create that using a very resonant filter that’s modulated strongly by a quick envelope generator.

In this audio example, you'll hear two bars of snare drum alone, then the white noise patch, then the thud patch, and then the composite sound. 
/Portals/2/CrossArticle/4800/YouCallThataSnare_Screen Shot.png
Register / login to rate articles and leave comments.

How many keyboards do you take to the gig?
 Four or more

Guitar World Guitar Player Guitar Aficionado Revolver Mag Bass Player Keyboard Mag Emusician
Keyboard Magazine is a trademark of New Bay Media, LLC. All material published on is copyrighted @2014 by New Bay Media, LLC. All rights reserved