For the last several tips, we’ve been focusing on the main body of the kick. Now we’ll take a closer look at the attack.

So far, all we’ve discussed is using Operator as a four oscillator subtractive synth:

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There’s nothing wrong with this – working with simple layering can be a great way to develop all sorts of sounds. Howver, FM synthesis offers some unique advantages for programming percussive sounds. It’s great for generating all nature of agressive snaps and pops – just the sort of thing that comes in handy for a kick drum attack.

The good news is that you don’t have to be an FM wizard to take advantage of this. For example, create a layered kick drum sound:

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In this example, Oscillators B and C are set to square wave and looped noise, and both have very short decays of slightly different lengths. That’s not super important, just design something that sounds good to you.

Once you’ve got something, flip through the other algorithms:

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What you’ll find is that a few sound very similar, but some of the other ones produce a much more agressive attack, so much so that you may need to turn it down a bit!

So that’s an easy road to a bunch of variations. However, to fine tune those variations you’ll need to know a bit more about algorithms and FM. We’ll take a closer look in upcoming tips.