Drums and Percussion are often a pivotal, driving force underpinning modern day soundtracks, especially within epic orchestral music, action sequences or tracks created for sports applications.
If you’re looking for ways to make your Percussion samples sound bigger and fuller for your soundtrack piece, but when you layer them up things often get cluttered quite quickly, this tip is for you.
The Frequency Led Approach
We’re familiar when writing for strings that we need to think about the frequency ranges of the instrument groups, approaching things keeping in mind Violins, Violas, Cellos and Basses as separate and distinct groups within the sectional writing.
Yet for some reason, few of us consciously divide up the Percussion family in quite the same way when writing.
But tracks that require heavy use of Percussion should be approached in this way too:
Layer instruments keeping in mind frequency ranges. Being aware of this will limit overcrowding, which leads to your track sounding messy or cluttered.
Percussion instruments within these groupings may include:
- Low Range:
Orchestral Bass Drums, Kick Drums, Low Booms, Surdos.
- Low-Mid Range:
Low Toms, Timpani, Taikos
- High-Mid Range:
Some Hand Drums, (Djembe), Snare Drums, Frame Drums, Some Metals
- High Range:
Hi-Hats, Shakers, Some Hand Drums (Bongos, Darbuka, etc.), Cymbals
Of course this a far from comprehensive list, but you get the idea.
Keep in mind general frequency balances within your whole track too: If you have a lot of low end in your track already, it may be wise not to add too much in that frequency range from your Percussion too. Or perhaps strip other elements out to make way for that Percussion.
Either way, you want to avoid any frequency range from getting too cluttered.