For Kicks

One thing that I have been meaning to learn more about was how to tune kick drums/low pitched drum samples to the key of a song, at the very minimum to ensure that they won’t clash with other low frequency instruments. Sometimes this can be done by ear, other times it’s good to get more analytical about it.

First determine the fundamental frequency of the drum as described in this great article on Mode Audio. This can be done by opening up a EQ with a frequency analyzer (e.g. “Channel EQ” in Logic) on the drum track in question to see where most of the energy is being displayed, like so:

Then analyze the fundamentals of any other low frequency instruments that may clash in this range.

Look up the relative note names of the frequencies on a table such as this one from Liutaio Mottola.

Then you can tune the drum using techniques outlined in Attack Magazine’s article. The highlight of this article for me was: “A neat trick for making the job a little easier here is to transpose the kick upwards by one or two octaves, do the fine tuning, then transpose it back down by the same amount. It tends to be easier to determine the pitch of the drum hit and hear how nicely it interacts with bass notes when it’s transposed up an octave or two.”