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Sound Design: Adjusting Kick Drum Pitch Envelope for Groove

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Sound Design: Adjusting Kick Drum Pitch Envelope for Groove
Sound Design: Adjusting Kick Drum Pitch Envelope for Groove - youtube Video
Hey folks, Matthew Weiss —,, and for my new workshop series,

Now, in my workshop series, I discussed taking a bland drum loop and spicing it up. Making it more interesting and exciting, and how to do that, and different techniques, and different things like that.

But nothing beats going into the record with an already great sounding drum pattern.

So I’m going to talk a little bit about how to get drum patterns to really work on a higher level, and this is not about talking like, just the sequencing of things, or just the playing of things, but the little, subtle things that really separate the good from the great, and the things that can make your drum patterns much more interesting to begin with.

So I’m going to play this little drum loop, and then we’re going to talk about it.

[drum loop]

Okay, so there’s a ton of stuff going on here that can be picked apart and imparted to you for techniques that you can use.

I’m going to start with this main kick pattern right here.


Alright, nothing crazy there.

So, I’ve got it loaded up in Battery, and when you’ve got something in Battery, you chop your sample if it’s part of a break, which this was, and then you can adjust the volume envelope, which will allow it to not play on eternally.




Right, so there we go.

Now, you also have a pitch envelope, and I wanted to talk about the pitch envelope specifically for kick drums. Especially Dance kick drums.

So I’m going to take off this pitch envelope right now.


Now I’m going to put it back on.

[kick, with pitch envelope]

One more time.

[kick, no envelope]


[kick with envelope]

Now, what I want to point out about this is in a very subtle way, the first version — the version without the pitch envelope adjustment — sounds brighter, but it sounds more static. It’s not really flinching from the metronomic quality that it kind of has.


As soon as I put the pitch envelope on, it becomes a darker sounding kick, but there’s an inside groove that starts to show up a little bit.


Alright, you can feel the bounce a little bit more.

Well, part of that is because the tail of the kick is distuning as it goes, and I find that with Dance kick drums, that little bit of distune and swing really helps it just kind of come to life and have a sort of extra ebb and flow to it.

Like, there becomes a rise and fall within the sound of the kick itself.

So I can exaggerate it by turning this way down.

[kick, low pitch]

I could stretch this out.

[kick, low and longer]

Or make it very fast.

[kick, low and fast]

But I like it here.


So the first tip that I’m giving you here is to take the time when you’re building your sounds to really adjust them and fine tune them, and even if you didn’t have this particular feature in Battery, one thing that you could do is you could print the kick and bring it back into whatever DAW you happen to be using, and literally distune the tail of the sample itself.

Like, there’s a lot of different ways you could do it. You could do it using Sound Shifter from Waves, you could do it using — I believe Fruity Loops has a way to modify the pitch over time in the Edirol sampler, there’s a lot of different ways that you can do it, but the bottom line is that you customize it so that you are able to get the exact sound that you want and the exact feel that you want, and when you’re doing this, when you’re starting to lay out your record, I find that it really helps to tackle these little things that don’t necessarily make a huge difference, but add up over time right from the very beginning.

The more you get right, right in the beginning, the better it’s going to end up, and the more you’re going to feel the groove of things.




Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is the recordist and mixer for multi-platinum artist Akon, and boasts a Grammy nomination for Jazz & Spellemann Award for Best Rock album. Matthew has mixed for a host of star musicians including Akon, SisQo, Ozuna, Sonny Digital, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development and 9th Wonder. Get in touch:

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