Making a drum sound without drums or samples

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Post by bobschwenkler » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:01 pm

Anything that makes a cool noise! It may not sound like a drum kit but you may get a sound that's probably more unique and interesting. I've used chair seats, acoustic guitar bodies, stomps, claps, knocking on my own forehead, plenty others I'm sure.

Don't be afraid to reach for eq,compression, distortion, and gates to get your sounds where you want them to go.

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Post by sam humans » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:49 pm

Theo_Karon wrote:One of my favorite tricks is to put a LD condenser inside a cardboard box, and then gently tap the side. There's TONS of attack and low end, and it seems to work best if you only tap it very lightly, like with the tip of your finger.

This is a great sound, done this myself. Hell, Bog Log III used to do this for live shows, using a 12-pack box if I remember correctly.

Also, regular old drums tampered down with t-shirts/pillows/hands and close mic'd with either an LDC or SDC tend to sound great. Lacking attack at times, but otherwise you hardly need to hit 'em at all when mic'd correctly, so they can be very quiet in the room but still sound very big and drum-like in the mix. I did the biggest, fattest, most sub-laden kick of my life a few years ago using a Blueberry placed less than 1" from my 28" kick drum being played with a mallet at 3am... while my newborn son slept peacefully in the next room.

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Post by Drone » Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:32 am

Oops, I read that as Blackberry and was thinking, what the hell is he recording it on his phone for. I was majorly impressed by the guerilla approach you employed :oops:

Still impressed because it is the almost newborn son I too want to avoid wakening.

PS yeah Blueberry is a microphone I know :oops:
The previous statement is from a guy who records his own, and other projects for fun. No money is made.

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Post by thebadword » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:48 pm

I used a large riccola tin once, you know the ones with the plastic lids? Cut the bottom out with a can opener and shoved a 58 in there. A little thumb thumping on the plastic lid for a kick and a bunch of distortion did great! As for the snare, I used the bottom of the tin I cut out and placed it on the plastic lid, whack it with a pen, and much distortion yet again, super trashy Pussy Galore-esque awesomeness! Sub synth, reverb and compression were also pretty cool.
"I ain't farting on no snare drum"

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Post by percussion boy » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:30 pm

Deal with household objects just like any other percussion instruments, from an engineer's mindset -- that is, choose a mic that helps shape the sound you want, and fool with small changes in mic position to improve the timbre further. As others have said, fx help.

For thumpy, low frequency sounds, I really like the Sennheiser 421 -- had good luck with it on plastic buckets, and even a copy of the TAPE OP book used as a conga. A 421 placed close can add fatness and attack to a bucket just as well as to a 12" tom.

If the bag thing you're using has to be played super-quietly, that might mean using a condenser to get enough level -- still good idea to try it close up to what you're hitting, for the low-end boost from proximity.

It's amazing how a humble sound can actually fit into a mix really well -- e.g., the old Fleetwood Mac hit "Second Hand News," which is built around a rhythm played on a chair.
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Post by lysander » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:01 pm

I think I read somewhere that the metronome sound you hear on the Beatles' Blackbird is just McCartney tapping on a book with a pencil.

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Post by zhx » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:06 am

Oh yes. I've done this, and I love this kind of stuff.
Here are two example songs. The first has these "analog sample" drums through the song except the outro:

Kick consists of a plastic box, an Ikea char and some tomtom sound combined, with heavy comp, delay, and other stuff

"snare" is a beer can heavily comped

other sounds have some real drums played with paintbrushes and some ticking from a autowah filter opening (fed by noise from a fuzz through a tremolo).

The other song has a kick that is actually a cardboard box played with the palm of my hand and miked through a hole in the box (like a kick drum). Maybe some comp, nothing else.

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Post by lyman » Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:45 am

percussion boy wrote:the old Fleetwood Mac hit "Second Hand News," which is built around a rhythm played on a chair.
Yeah but it was a vintage chair.

Jokes aside, I've done the padded barstool cushion thing for kick too. Worked ok w/lots of processing. Also: set up a mic in a stand and lightly tap the stand. Or hold a sheet of paper by a top corner and tap with a pencil for a snare-ish thing.

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Post by Jared Paul » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:33 pm

I love finding really cool drum sounds in my house. I've made a really cool kick sample by slamming the freezer door shut, mic'd very close. Also, hitting food containers with wooden spoons. Also, making beatboxing-type sounds. And of course, as others have said, heavy compression, EQing, and distortion on all of the above.

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Post by MichaelAlan » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:37 am

Ya this can be pretty fun. My friends daughter and I looked all over my garage once for things that make cool percussion noises. Ended up with a duct taped plastic container full of bb's, a large plastic jar with a brush to slap it, some threaded metal thing that you could rake a drumstick accross. If you're creative enough you might say there is no need for a proper drum set to make interesting music...
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Post by hazmatt » Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:26 pm

I've played some backyard barbecues with folk who made their own [url =] tan-tan[/url] out of a small diameter round trashcan with a table cloth head - the kind that is vinyl on one side and weird cottony looking fabric on the other. super deep and mellow attack
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James Anderson
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Post by James Anderson » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:33 pm

anything you can hit is a drum - garbage bags and swept booms made great snare brush noises. wood floor stomps in big rooms are great kicks. mallets on rubber bowls. mallets on glass bowls. mallets on anything! check out early radio foley work for inspiration. don't underestimate the power of glass bottles on "don't stop til you get enough"

but if you want those things to sound like big fancy recorded drums try trigger: so cheap, so good. i've tapped drum parts on a floor and coffee table and used those to trigger my own studio drum samples and it's great.

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Post by Zygomorph » Thu Mar 21, 2013 11:14 am

Snarl 12/8 wrote:Do you have a contact mic? With a sensitive one I saw one guy who turned a cactus into a cool sounding percussion instrument.


Just did some googling. I guess the mic'd cactus is a John Cage thing...

I couldn't find the guy I was thinking of. Maybe it was this guy.
Cage famously did this as part of a live TV broadcast on New Years 1984 as part of Nam June Paik's Good Morning Mr. Orwell back when TV was thoughtful, challenging, AND entertaining!

He also has several compositions for activities occurring at "maximum amplification", i.e. before feedback. Though more relevant to this post would perhaps be his "cartridge music" in which pipe-cleaners or feathers are placed into a phonograph cartridge in lieu of a stylus, and scraped/brushed against various surfaces. Living Room Music is a percussion piece scored for items commonly found in living rooms, though these items remain unspecified.
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