The best way to tune a kick drum is to use native flex pitch-editing algorithms or high-quality third party flex pitch-editing suites.
Recording artists, music producers, and audio engineers should all have tools within any DAW of choice to handle pitch correction in a time efficient and high-resolution way. In 2016 the software market for pitch correction and editing has expanded significantly, and tools are available to all music producers, in all genres, at all different price points.
A free approach to pitch correction and kick drum tuning would be the native “flex pitch” editor within Logic X. As seen in the photo, the pitch editor allows the movement of audio files and regions to desired notes/keys. To reference article one of this series, it is imperative before doing any manipulation to the pitch of the kick drum that there is a firm understanding of the project key, so the kick drum tuning is accurate.
For example, if the song happens to be in the key of F major, tuning the kick drum to F will sound excellent. If you want to experiment with a tonal/textural options, then you can tune your kick drum to other notes in the scale. Most often, at The Continuum Music Studio, we tune kick drums to the 5th (when not using the tonic tuning). Tuning drums to other notes in a scale can offer a very melodic feel to the drum layers which often sounds very sweet when blended with music.
The music production industry is currently overly saturated with mixing plugins. Pitch correction is one of those few aspects of editing which should be done effectively. Cutting corners with pitch correction always renders less than desired results.
For these reasons and more the kick drum tuning method that we professionally, use and cannot say enough about, is Celemony Melodyne. Before we go any further, we need to stress that Celemony is not a partner of our studio or education academy. We love the Melodyne software, and if you do your research, we are confident you will find nothing but fantastic reviews online as Celemony is simply the best.
With version 4 out now, the Melodyne technology has taken a massive leap forward from its previous version. No product on the market was better for time and pitch correction three years ago than Melodyne! Imagine what the software is like today! When it comes to music editing tools or any audio engineering devices for that matter, you truly pay for what you get.
Melodyne is the industry’s best flex editing engine for vocals, instruments, and kick (all) drums because of its advanced and trademarked algorithm. Melodyne thrives on both monophonic (as most pitch correction software does) as well as complex polyphonic information.
Simply put: Melodyne offers the most advanced algorithm available today. If your pitch correction needs are simple, this is not a necessary tool for you. But if you plan on doing recording, sample correction, or intensive pitch and time-based editing this software will pay for itself in a short while. We are huge proponents of efficient workflow tools that save time, are easy to use, and allow us to sink more energy into the creative process.
Kick drum tuning, in the grand scheme of pitch correction, is a simple task. Kick drums are monophonic and do not vary in means of “pitch bending decay or sustain” in the complex ways that something like a vocal does. Ergo, it is much easier and faster to tune kick drums vs. tuning a live-recorded piano, which is out of tune. The best news for recording artists, if one is considering Melodyne, is that the software can fix the tuning and timing of live recordings with extreme precision!
Most DAWs on the market for music producers and audio engineers come with a variety of native algorithms and mixing plugins to tune kick drums for free. Though, as mentioned in the previous articles making an investment in top tier music production and mixing software is not only good for life but also offers:
People often ask, “What is the preferred method for ‘x’ at The Continuum Music Studio?” When ‘x’ equals kick drum tuning, we could wholeheartedly say that the best way to tune a kick drum (or anything) is with Celemony Melodyne. Runners up would be the tuning products by Antares, and lastly the native flex pitch in Logic X. Happy Tuning!
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Written by: Kriss Walas
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