Should I transpose my drums?

I got drum loop and want it sound -5 Semitones down for example???
Or it is not common to transpose drums. Or you must tune your kick drum to bass? etc,

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Use your ears/if it sounds good…

I know this type of answer is pretty annoying, but it’s the only valid one here. If you know you want it to sound 5 semitones lower, then transpose it 5 semitones lower. Tuning your kick to your bass is pretty common. Pitching loops/hits up or down is also pretty common. Without pitching loops we certainly wouldn’t have hip hop or drum’n’bass. Try different stretching algos. Try going extreme. Beyond a certain point, it will sound very unnatural, which might sound like shit or be very awesome.


Darn good question!

I would do it without thinking about it… just because it occurred to me that I could (as it did to you apparently) BUT … then if it’s not working out as I had anticipated, or no new revelation occurs… then the doubt sets in and sometimes paralysis (I hate the paralysis thing)

So I am very interested to hear what others have to say on the subject.

Thank you for bringing it up :sunglasses:

Just wanted to add, that pitching with stretch/time-compress algorithms can sound very different from doing it without them.

Pitching without will change the duration and tempo of the sample (ptichin down makes the loop longer). In order to maintain the tempo, - slice the loop into short sections/beats - as appropriate , and trigger/place each slice at the right time.

It can take some work to get the slicing/re-arrangement right, but for some old-school types of sounds, it’s basically the only way to do it.

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I always thought pitching was step 1 of drum layering. Yes, play with everything, imo

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For drum tuning, I just play it by ear and do whatever I like the sound of.

In regards to tuning your kick to your bass… that’s kind of difficult to do for the whole song unless you just play one bass note. I suppose get your kick into the scale of the track you’re working on if you want, but otherwise I just play that by ear too.

There isn’t a whole lot of room to have the kick and bass playing in the bottom end at the same time, so if anything I’d tune my kick up to keep it out of the way of the bass and then just sidechain everything against the kick to make it feel more powerful and bottom-heavy than it actually is. This works great for house, maybe not as much for other genres. But IMO the most important part of a kick to actually make it come out good in the mix is to have a nice click in the 1-2k range so that you can hear it really well on any type of speaker in any surround configuration you can imagine. I don’t tune that at all, it’s a really atonal element of the kick, especially compared to the fundamental.

So in summary:

  • If you’re going to tune the kick, I’d tune it up, not down
  • make sure you have a nice solid click in the midrange to carry the kick through the mix
  • sidechain can make the kick feel like it has more bass than it does if you can get the attack/release right (I do this for every individual channel in my mixes - no ducking buss)
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