Some drummers play melodies on their drum kits, but most times, it doesn’t sound like a common melody because the drums’ overtones don’t match a melodic instrument’s pitch. However, certain percussion instruments (such as the kalimba or xylophone) have a more definitive pitch tone. In this tutorial, I will show you how to use a percussive sound to create a melody.
As an illustration, I have prepared a short sequence in SoundBridge: DAW, which contains the majority of instruments of the full mix. Let us listen to it.
~Full Mix – Without Percussive Melody
Start By Creating the Rhythmic Sequence
As I have shown in the image below, I’ve already selected the percussive sound and assigned it to the first pad in RitMix. Subsequently, I need to go to Ritmix’s sequencer section to make a melodic sequence out of this sound. I used steps in the sequencer section to create a rhythmic sequence. Let’s listen to how it sounds.
~Percussive Sound – Initial Sequence (Solo)
Get Your Percussion In Tune With Your Mix
After listening to the whole mix to determine the root key of your track, you need to determine the dominant pitch of your percussive sound in order to have it in key with the rest of your instruments. This can be done using frequency analyzers like Span by Voxengo which show the dominant pitch of the input audio. I covered this technique for kick drum tuning in one of our previous tutorials, which you can check here: Find The Root Key of Any Sample.
I determined that the root key of my percussive sound is A, and the root key of my track instruments is also A, so everything is already in tune. We can afterward move on to creating the melody in the RitMix step sequencer.
Use The Percussive Sound to Create a Melody
The “Frequency” section and the “Pitch” tab are located at the bottom of the Ritmix sequencer window. I can now change the pitch of the individual steps in my sequence by clicking them. Furthermore, on the right is a “Mix” section, with a “Velocity” tab that I will use to change the velocity of some steps in the sequence. Here’s how our sequence sounds after having set it up.
~Percussive Sound – Pitch & Velocity Settings (Solo)
This is a nice start, but the overall sequence still sounds a bit raw. So I will enter the edit window and amp envelope section within RitMix to make the percussive sound a bit shorter. I will also use the delay and reverb effects embedded in RitMix to add movement and space to the overall sound. Let us now hear how our melodic percussive sequence sounds solo and in the context of the full mix.
~Percussive Sound Sequence – Final (Solo)
~Full Mix – With Percussive Sound Sequence
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