What does it take to make snares hot again? This free Live rack, that’s what. Dial F aka David Abravanel has been cooking up new music and more sounds – and stick around for exhaustive kicks.

Notes and download for Live 10 are all on Google Drive:

Snare Synth download, Rack, and demo project

It all started with Tom Hall, and a terrific snare synth built in Max/MSP – so yeah, if you’re hardcore and use Max but skip Live, this is where to begin:

Synthesizing kick drums is pretty straightforward, so you might be surprised to discover that making snares is anything but. (That might also explain why a lot of them – how to put this gently, uh – succckkkkkkk.) Tom in turn got his ideas from a Sound on Sound article by the legendary Gordon Reid. This will get deep into synthesis and percussion, and certainly could give you inspiration far beyond music genres that use Roland TR snares and the like. It’s from 2002, but suffice to say snare synthesis hasn’t really evolved since then, though what we do have is a lot more people to experiment with percussion synthesis and music production – meaning new ideas could come from all you fine folks.


Anyway, when it comes time to make a track, you probably don’t want to be thinking about getting lost adjusting your frequency shifters. You need something you can use to improvise without losing your mind. So here’s David – inspired by the snare synth, he’s built a snare synth rack, and it’s free to download:

Want something with a bit more kick? In December, David did an exhaustive survey of kick drum history and synthesis and that also comes with free Ableton Live sounds:


The rack is free, so go support David’s music instead. His JPE (Jewish Power Electronics) from last fall is utterly sublime. And all these sounds were produced from his mouth and a microphone – further indications that you don’t need a giant studio and tons of resources to make something.

(The other advantage of your mouth – if you’re feeling down and staring at knobs and keys isn’t doing something, your voice produces the most direct connection of any instrument to your body and mind.)

Check it:

Badass photo at top:

“Defenders 1982 Snares Practice with North Drums” by Rick Cogley is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Find David: