Alright. In the name of silly sound design experiments, today I’ll make a snare drum out of the same kick sample I started with a couple of days ago. I’m not saying that you’ll necessarily want to do this in real life – just showing how flexible every bit of sound in your sample library is.

(If you’re just joining in today, I’d suggest starting with Kick That Kick to see what’s going on here.)

The first step in today’s experiment is to transpose the kick up by quite a bit:

Picture 34

Depending on the sample your using, you might also need to shorten the decay time a bit. My sample sounds like this now:

transposed kick

The next step is to get Live’s Vocoder involved. By default, Vocoder uses noise as it’s carrier. This means that the vocoder will analyze the incoming signal’s volume envelope and frequency characteristics and apply them to a noise signal. This works perfectly for us, since noise is a basic ingredient of synthesized snare drum sounds.

I’ve got the Vocoder set up like this:

Picture 35

The key parts of the setup are:

  • Bands is set to 4. This makes the frequency analysis of the kick sample very inaccurate. That’s a good thing in this case – we don’t want to capture every subtlety of the sample. Just want to get some noise into the mix.
  • Release is adjusted to taste – it determines the decay of the noise signal. Somewhere between 60ms-200ms will work for most cases.
  • Dry/Wet is pulled down to about 50%. This allows the aggressive attack of the sample to come through and blends it with the noise to make it snare-y.

Obviously, there are loads of other parameters you can play with here. The others I would focus on are Formant which can be tweaked a little bit in either direction to tune the snare a bit, and the X/Y controller over to the left. The X/Y pad adjusts the sample rate and density of the noise changing the overall tone of the snare. Make tiny adjustments and listen carefully – for conventional snare sounds, you’ll just want to make very slight
adjustments to the dot’s default position in the upper left hand corner.

My new snare drum sounds like this:

transposed kick w/ vocoder