This is a nice in-depth, two-part video tutorial by producer Dan Larson who has been providing us with great tutorials for a long time now. This time he shares how to make a dubstep snare drum with FM8, Skrillex style!
[aside title="Signature Snare!"]It doesn’t need to be Skrillex’s snare drum you make with this method, but use it. And use it well![/aside]
The ability and willingness to share his professional synthesis knowledge is one of the things that makes Dan Larson one of the best producers who also regularly releases tutorials for people wo want to elevate their sound design skills. In these videos he walks you through every step involved in creating each of the layers needed to recreate the iconic snare drum of Skrillex using FM8 to make all of the sounds from scratch. Now, as with any kind of tutorial aimed at replicating a popular sound without any instruction from the original artist, it may contain steps and sound elements that are unique and quite different form those found in the original workflow. There is a lot of information in these two videos, so we will just be highlighting a few key pieces of the process worth calling out in an effort to help you make a nice snare drum with FM8.
Making this snare drum with FM8 is a very complex process, and therefore requires a certain level of understanding of FM Synthesis to recreate from scratch. It is actually made up of several layers of different sounds that all combine to deliver a hard hitting dubstep snare drum with FM8 that is most definitely worthy of being called a signature sound. Breaking a percussive sound like this one into so many specialized layers also requires extra time spent on using very specific effects to help shape and enhance each layer.
The transient element is a sharp strike, and has a very hard edge to it. This helps the snare drum to cut through the mix once all the layers have been combined and are thrown into the complete mix of a song. Without this sharp transient element, the snare loses much of the necessary impact appeal and becomes incredibly difficult to use. The same can be said about the tail element. Without the extended breath of the snare tail element, the drum would be nearly useless.
The body of the snare has a lot of tonal character, and rightly so because it is a basic Smooth Square waveform shaped almost entirely by the Pitch Envelope. This provides the modern digital quality to the snare that is so difficult to identify for most people trying to replicate this kind of sound. The effects used on the different layers range from heavy distortion to simple EQ shaping, with plenty of other tools used in between. I highly suggest watching this set a couple of times to get a better understanding of how you can go about making a complex snare drum with FM8 and FM Synthesis in general.
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