I don’t know about you but I am always looking for new and exciting sounds to use in my music and sound design projects. I suppose I could invest in a bunch of sample libraries but that feels like cheating. I have way too much fun making my own sounds to give that responsibility up to someone else. How do I do it? Here are 15 ideas to get the creativity rolling.
- Bathe it in Reverb – Make your sounds swim in an ocean of ‘verb like My Bloody Valentine or the Cocteau Twins.
- Extreme Pitch-Shifting – I’ve talked about this at length in a previous post. One of my favorite effects.
- Mic it up rather than Recording Direct – Try running that keyboard or drum machine through a guitar amp set to 11 and recording it with a Shure SM57. You’re sure to capture some grunge and grind.
- Play it Backwards – Again, I’ve discussed this in a previous post but this always sounds great.
- Use Extreme FX settings – Whether it’s an Insane Ping-Pong Delay or Hyper-Limited Drums, turning your effects settings way up is fun, fun, fun. My favorite effects package for this type of stuff is SFX Machine. You should absolutely check it out.
- Run your sounds through Guitar Pedals – Bass, whether electric or keyboard, is obvious but what about sending that high-hat through a Phaser Pedal?
- Use weird, cheap Mics – Take it beyond the old “talking through the telephone” sound. Just about everyone have an old $15 Radio Shack mic. Try it out, sometimes bad is great.
- Play your instrument in Unusual Ways – Strum your guitar behind the bridge or nut. Use a violin bow on your cymbals. These three techniques can produce some very eerie sounds.
- Over Distort – Over and over again. Repeat process…
- Convolve it – Convolution is not just for reverbs. Try superimposing a lion’s roar over a Hammond organ patch. Sound Hack is great for this.
- Mess with the Bit Depth – There’s a reason the E-mu SP-1200 sounds so cool. 12-bit & 8-bit drums are where it’s at.
- Screw with the Sample Rate – This is more subtle than bit reduction but can still yield some very retro sounds.
- Varispeed – That rubber-band sound. What does a yo-yo sound like? This used to be a control on analog tape decks but you can find it nowadays in digital plug-ins.
- Change the Order of your FX – Delay before compression? What about Limiting into EQ into Reverb? Try it, sometimes it work, other times your gear just blows up. Just be sure you have a mic around to capture the explosion.
- Send it to Tape – Analog rules! Another one where you may want to repeat the process again and again…
I bet you have a bunch of tricks like these up your sleeve as well. Let me know. Email me or leave a comment explaining your Favorite Fun Ways to Freak Out Your Sounds. If we get enough I’ll compile them in a future post.