Friday, June 26, 2009
When most of us search for samples in a TV, movie, or radio recording, we tend to listen for the 'broad strokes' - the big, obvious sounds. This is all well and good, but if you do the opposite and listen for the little, incidental sounds in between the obvious ones, you might be surprised at what you find. A cough, the squeak of a wooden floor, breathing, fans and air conditioners, the ambient hum of a city. All of these can be great sources of unusual sounds if you take the time to look for them.
For instance, I just finished up a new song tonight in which I used the rustling of my lyric sheet and a breath from in between the actual singing on the track before I edited it out and used it as a sort of odd, rhythmic loop that fit perfectly in the intro of the track. What's great about stuff like this is that when it is removed from its context, visual or otherwise, it becomes difficult to tell what the source sound was... it just sounds like a great, weird, organic sound.
Of course, you don't need to use the sounds as is. Use them as a starting point and try playing them out of their natural range or hitting it with a big ol' dose of time stretching. EQ it unnaturally, filter it, distort it, reverse it. Treat your samples like the oscillators on a synth... just the starting point for you to sculpt something unusual out of.