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Getting Crisp Drum Sounds

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Obtaining Crispness is More than a Mix Affair

By AMIR SAID (SA’ID)

Bwest, one of the members of the BeatTips Community, posed a question regarding drum sounds and their crispness. Directly below I have included dk’s original question:

…one of the biggest obstacles i’m coming across is my drum sounds… i’ve been sampling a lot of sounds and i have some stock libraries but i can’t seem to get the crisp, tight sounds i’ve heard on some of yalls beats. I’ve got a basic understand of mixing but what are some basic things i can do to my drums to get them sounding good…. or is it all in picking the right sounds?

Here’s My Response…

First bit of advice: Get a better feel what crisp drums sound like. To that end, I strongly recommend listening to mid- and slower-tempo soul songs. Listen to the drum frameworks, pay attention to how each drum sound lands in each measure. As you get a better *feel* for how certain drum sounds move, you gain a better understanding for how to make your sound “crisp.”

Thing is, the tightness in my drum sounds, (99% of them are sampled from records), comes from my focus on recontextualization. That is, I try to situate the *feel* of the drum sounds that I sample into my overall sound. I believe that this emphases is what dictates even my processes for modifying my sounds. So unlike some beatmakers, who try to get their drums tight like DJ Premier or Dr. Dre, that’s never been my goal. For me, “tightness” is about modifying your drum sounds simply to fit your overall sound. Within the process of *that* quest, you will find that your drum sounds will indeed turn out crisp.


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About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including his latest album 'The Best of Times.' Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual