How to find sample key?

Hi guys, can anyone tell me how do i find the key to a sample in cubase please?

Thanks a lot for your time mate.

Sachin :wink:

There’s no short answer really. Except “with your ears, and your musical skills and knowledge”. Some samples may not be “in” any one key.

Is there any way you can have a session with some of your samples and an experienced musician?

Hi sachin22,

for these tasks I use a Tuner-Plugin. You can try Cubase´s “Tuner”, e.g.

Melda´s “MTuner” does the job very well, IMHO:

It´s included in Melda´s “FreeEffectBundle” (+all effects are awesome, highly recommend!)


Your question is ambiguous which is why you got two different answers.

Do you mean:

a) Pitch of a note of a sample? Then Centralmusic’s suggestion is the answer.

b) Key of a sample of music? That is harder, but typically the key is what the ending note is, but only if the piece is not making a definite statement in its ending, which may be at odds with the sentiment of the rest of the piece.

While you could try playing along with it in several keys to see which one fits with it better, naturals may complicate it. I play lead guitar using the pentatonic scale, and once I have found which frets one of the five patterns seems to fit best, I can derive the key. Don’t try this with advanced jazz, because they really mess with the note pitch intervals (see modes).

You may be better off getting an experienced session muso, or a formal music teacher to help, as Lawrence Payne suggests.

If the sample is monophonic (only one tone at the time) you can use Cubase’s Variaudio to see its pitch.
Melodyne editor is able to analyse chords and other polyphonic (more notes played together) material.

Melodyne is pretty good, also allows you to transpose the melody/progression to other keys, though some melodies or progressions could actually be in a number of keys…

This is what I use to find what note/key a sample is.

I would also like to know any good plugins or tips to find the pitch of a percussion samples. I use my ears and a free plugin that helps but crashes cubase to much…it’s called ctuner and it’s the only tuner plugin I know that works with high hats and kicks.

Overtones on 2D (tension-wise) things like drumheads are not the same as for 1D strings, as the vibration modes are different and they are not necessarily integrally related (harmonic) to the fundamental. Therefore, a tuner for a stringed instrument may get confused by the non-harmonic frequencies.

While I’m not a drum person, I would imagine that drum tuning is not so much about frequency, but about getting clean and clear sounds, and especially not sounding flaccid. By their nature, drums bounce back to resist the hit (more like throw it back!) and so the forces involved are substantial, which means that they perhaps need some attuning to the drummer as well so that the dynamics feel right to them.

I was talking about electronic drums(sorry) I’ll be more specific next time

While they may be electronic, their overtone structure will still be based somewhat on real drums.

Given that, and that each drum sound tends to be quite distinct, why would you want to know their frequency?

It’s harder to explain and easier to hear. In dance music(mostly trance and house) they are heavily based on percussion and the groove of the percussion. When you have all your samples in the right pitch or even the right key the groove just sounds way better. Especially with the snare and clap. Having those out of tune to the root of the track can have a major impact on the groove. I’m not saying you can’t I’m just saying it’s just that much sweeter sounding. In some genres the kick is the bassline to so you would want to have the kick in the same key of your track.

I could go on for ever but that’s basically why.

You could just choose another sample but sometimes you want that certain sound to fit in the groove.

Fair enough!

You are still have to do that, unless you can reliably retune the sound.

To do a bit of nitpicking here; sachin22s question is not ambiguous. Your answer contributes to the confusion though. The “Key” always refers to the chord progression of a piece of music (which, technically, can be a single chord or a whole symphony). The pitch of a single note is always referred to as “Pitch”.

Since sachin22 is asking for the “Key”, he’s asking for (b) not (a). Therefore, what he need is a polyphonic detection system. I believe that software versions are beginning to show up. But the most advanced polyphonic detection software still resides in the brain of a human musician.

The ambiguity, IMO, comes from the possible interpretations of what context and scope the word ‘sample’ was used, so there was a possibility that ‘key’ might not have been accurately used.

I don’t assume that a word is used accurately unless the whole context is clear and unambiguous, especially since the two responses before me seemed to have made the two distinct interpretations. Unfortunately, we do not have any further input from sachin22 to clarify what they actually meant, so we are basically ‘persistently precipitating in the wind’ here.

As it was, my two statements accurately matched yours! It was my attempt to determine exactly what they did mean by the words they used.

I’m afraid, I must disagree with you there. sachin22 may very well use the wrong teminology. However, there is no way for us to know. Assuming ambitiousness, where none exists (clearly used the term “Key”), opens up a can of worms.

You may say “he said this, but may have this…”. Then the next guy comes along says "maybe he meant this. Then a third guy comes along with a third theory about what sachin22 actually meant. As you can see, things become very confusing very fast.

It’s not your, or my, place to secondguess what anyone means. The correct response is to answer the question as put. If it turns out that the questioner has used the wrong terminology, then is the time for a correction.

Assuming ambitiousness only serves to cause confusion!

The conversation is getting heated so ill break it up.

Any sampler now a days can tune a sample with really great results. I personally love NI battery for this

I used mixed in key for this, its primarily designed for finding the key of songs, and it is by no means perfect, but it can batch process your entire sample collection and it does a good job for the samples it does identify.

i tried mixed in key and it didnt work on one shots…maybe better now