Drum Samples: Analyzing Snares
by Brenda Nadic
Snares are just about an essential part of most popular songs; everything you hear on the radio and nearly all songs on all CDs in the rhythm and blues and hip hop, rap and dance genres. Snare use is determined based on the type of music and the groove of the song.
Snare drum samples are usually placed on beats 2 and 4 in urban groove songs such as most hip hop. The reason for this is that it's usually the kicks that occupy the other, stronger points of the bar, but the snare still plays an important part and sets the tone for the rest of the song much of the time.
There are so many different types of snares, but two seem to come out on top when making sample libraries and analyzing those of established producers and application developers. Real, live snares are sampled from recorded songs or recorded for the purposes of electronic use in lieu of a live drummer. The other type is the raspy or smooth snares that are developed by synthesizers like the Roland groove boxes; think TR-606s, TR-808s and so on.
Effects play a big role in the final sound of the snare drum samples, and one of the most common one is reverb. The reverb effect doesn't just affect the sample, but can affect the whole song, even if only the snare is subjected to the reverb process. The reverb can be dynamic, as in applied throughout the song with variable parameters, or on a per-sample basis, with it having been applied prior to use and perhaps only affected by an ADSR envelope or similar.
In dance music, the snare drum samples are often combined with the kick drums and 'teamed up' for beats 2 and 4 from the bar, with the kick hitting consistently from beats 1 through 4. This technique is used simply to relieve the ear of the persistent bass kick on every beat, and also serves other uses, especially if the snare and kick do not share the same groove template. This sort of an affect can result in a dynamic drum samples groove that is very pleasing to the ear and we can actually spot this in many club hits playing today. The technique has been popular for over 10 years now!
One of the recommendations often offered by professional producers who have made it is to experiment with the snare drum samples. The rules are not set in stone. The interplay between kick and snare can be as nice and friendly as you want, or as bad and as unpredictable as you can imagine.
This music article was written for my drum samples, the number 1 site for hip hop drum samples.
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