How to make a synth kick drum?

Anybody got any good techniques for making an electronic kick drum?

I had a method in mind, by putting an envelope ahead of a saw oscillator, to have the attack and decay sweep the pitch rapidly down, and make the kick sound. So far, I have had no success with this method. Are there any other methods which would make this effect?

Hey @synthpopalooza!

Are you referring to something like this? http://littlebits.cc/bitlab/bits/the-bleep-drum.

Well not exactly. I wanted to make an analog kick sound, but strictly using the standard oscillators. Although this Bleep drum module does look very interesting.

Hi @synthpopalooza,
The key to making percussion sounds with the littleBits Korg Synth Kit is to use an Envelope module and set a quick attack and a short decay.

One way is to use the Random module set to “noise” with its output going into an Envelope module set with a quick attack and short decay. With the Random module, your percussion will sound more like a snare, cymbal or hi hat. If you build this into a full circuit you can make the micro sequencer module a 4-step drum machine…

Power > Micro Sequencer > Random (noise) > Envelope > Speaker

Another way of making a percussion sound is to use the Oscillator module with the Envelope set with a quick attack and short decay. In this scenario your percussion will sound more like a kick drum or tom tom depending on the Oscillator frequency and wave shape. For example…

Power > Micro Sequencer > Oscillator > Envelope > Speaker

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If you want a bassline and a kickdrum all at once, I found out that doing :

Power > Oscillator (Square) > Envelope (No attack, short decay) > Oscillator > Speaker

Will give you just that. The first oscillator gives the tempo, the envelope gives the “tonal depth” of the kick (how much it’ll rise), and the second oscillator is the pitch of the bass (and the drum too).

You can gate the result with another envelope if you want to only keep the kick, but you’ll have to split after the first oscillator and feed that signal as trigger to the final envelope, since it won’t know when you trigger.

Example at ~1:30 in this song : https://soundcloud.com/rbedard/littlebits-jam-of-the-day-2014-12-14

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I’m new here, but I’ll toss out a couple ideas,… especially if you are after more of the 808 type of sound,… or a lot of electro sounding percussion depending on how you have the patch set.

Basic:
Power- Spit
1 split goes to - osc set to square (used for trigger the second string)
1 split goes to; osc (either wave form)-> filter-> envelope with osc in first string connected,… then to speaker.

How to use:
It is key that the filter is self-oscillating- slight adjustments can really make a difference to the character of the sound.

Adjust the envelope to taste- that long 808 decay is possible.

Variation:
Take the osc in string 1,… and move to the filter input.

How to use:
Depending on how the osc that is connected to the filter is set, this will give you the “drop” that is common with real, and electronic, percussion. When this osc is set to a higher frequency, more FM types of percussion sounds. Adjust the filter too- this can really make a difference.

Good luck on getting something that will work!

For the most part, there are two main types of kick drum. Square wave and sine wave. Which wave you choose, and how you choose to make it will be the defining timber of your kick.

Tho get a square wave, simply set the oscillator bit to square. To get a sine wave, you can use the filter to shape the square wave to a sine wave. You can also skip the oscillator bit altogether and simply set the resonance of the filter bit to self oscillate, this will produce a sine wave.

For an 808 kick, use the self oscillating filter. For a 909 kick, shape the square wave with a filter bit.

Finally, decide how to modulate your kick. For the 808 kick, you can ping the filter’s frequency in on the top. This will change the pitch of the kick over time. If you send power to the audio in of the envelope, the AD envelope will act as usual. If you do not send power to the audio in, it will be inverted. If your attack is decreasing the pitch instead of increasing the pitch, this is why.

Please let me know if any of this advice helps you get a better kick drum. :smile: