I very rarely claim that one thing will automatically make all of your music better, but tuning your drums is one of those things. A lot of times, you’ve got a lot of bits that sound cool, but you can’t get them to gel. Some of this can be solved by a little tuning of the kick drums.
In this post, I specifically talk about tuning your kick drums to match your bassline, but the techniques that I discuss here can be applied to all kinds of drums.
Key to making this process easier is to make sure that your kick drum (or drums if you’ve been smart and layered those muthas) are on their own track. This is mostly a workflow thing, but it comes in very handy, since kicks should have their own signal chain. This will prevent you from trying to slather your kicks with delay or something gross.
Once you’ve gotten the kicks on their own track, solo them one by one against the bassline. At first, it will be difficult to tell if they’re in tune or not, since the kick drum is so low. Here is where my “tip” comes in.
Pitch the kick drum way the eff up. Like, over 12 half-steps. This will make it easier to hear whether or not the drums are in tune. Don’t sweat that the drums sound unnaturally high. Once you’ve found a good tuning, lower the transposition by a multiple of 12. That will drop the drum by an octave, keeping the tuning intact.
Repeat with the rest of your drums, if you’ve layered them, and wait for the adulation of groupies to roll in. Or probably get back to work.
Do you have any other tips to finish off your drum clips? Share em in the comments!