Timpani kettle drum synthesis

Hello good people, Does anyone know how to make a convincing Kettle drum/timpani sound using free modules? I have tried myself using Bass Marionette and BD-9 from DK but somehow it does sound just right. Any advice would be much appreciated. Here’s the patch below: Timpani maybe.vcv (25.6 KB)

I don’t know bass marionette, BD-9 is essentially a 909 kick drum and I doubt this will work on its own. You need to consider the sound that you are trying to synthesize. A timpani is more complex and will require multiple oscillators and envelopes. This article should help: https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/practical-percussion-synthesis-timpani

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Hi Ady, maybe this older video i did a while ago on creating bongo’s/percussive sounds can be of use as a starter point?

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Thank you, I am just using your patch now, I think I got to a very militaristic Timpani sound. Would you advise me if it sounds right or adjust it to your idea of the sound?. Here’s your patch and my settings: Buchla Timpani.vcv (14.5 KB)

Hey Ady, yeah that’s quite the rough Timpani you got yourself there :slight_smile:

There is no point in me adjusting your approach into what i think should sound like a Timpani ( i probably would not get close to a real one anyway! :wink: ).

The point is you should make it sound the way you want it to sound, and what will satisfy your personal expectations while learning.

Key thing to remember is that you are trying to mimic a hemispherical/kettle-drum. Which is quite a complex sound source. In synthesis approach this would involve a lot of physical modeling, to get close to the real thing.

A couple of basics that build up that type of sound ,

  • pitch control to make the bow type of sound, (pitch-bend control)
  • a filter that will open up the louder the sound is like the LPG you used, or roll your own with a different filter controlled by envelopes.
  • Some type of saturation that is more noticeable in the tail of the sound, and less at the initial strike.
  • And not to forget, is the way the notes are played, both rhythmical and dynamicly.

All in all just make it a fun exercise. here is an interesting video where you can see and hear some essentials that make up the sound of the real thing


Here’s a go. You’ll need the Vult Free, E-Series and XFX plugins for this one to work.

Trummor2 times two banging away at two different frequencies with a Cloud Generator to fake some resonance pushed through a high pass filter then a reverb to bring the oomph! :smile:

Edit: I should point out that this was helpful doing this: https://www.vsl.co.at/en/Timpani/Sound_Characteristics

Timpani Try (Vult Free Version).vcv (12.1 KB)

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Thank you kindly, the hamster strikes back!! I’ll see what mayhem I can make of this, now I have got my midi keyboard to talk to VCV Rack, there’s no stopping me but best not tempt fate!

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You might have to mess up the patch a bit to get it working with pitch and gate from the keyboard. See the attached for an example…

Example Routing.vcv (7.9 KB)

Don’t you mean a kettle drum? :smiley: Also, be warned that playing this at different pitches sounds AWFUL. :scream: