Song 3: Found sound

For this project I asked for a copy of Ethan Hein’s  sample project, called “Applebees.”  I was able to load this up in Ableton Live 9.2 Demo.  I have Live 8 and have used it a good amount for triggering sampled sounds and background tracks on my gigs, but recently switched over to bouncing those tracks out of Ableton Live and triggering them from within Virtual DJ.  For some reason this seems to work better with Virtual DJ’s cueing and syncing features.  Either way, I still like Live for its beat detection and looping capabilities and will continue to use it to enhance my background tracks for live performance.  Here is a window of Ethan’s session:


My first guess is that the “Drum Rack” is some kind of instrument or sampler preset in which you can take a found sound and “divvy it up” into samples, which are then triggered via MIDI.  My next idea was to try to duplicate this file and see if I could do something similar, but with different sounds, drum patterns, and effects.

The first thing I did was replace the top track, “Applebees” with “Cash Registers.”  I decided at the last minute to use this as my sound source file.  I hadn’t decided whether to use “Apartment Doorstep” or not.  I have a few others available as well, including “Barber,” “Starting Car,” “Walking Into Cleaners,” and “Wegmans.”

I noticed that running “Cash Registers” through the resonator produces a similar sound result to the top track in “Applebees” when soloed.  My next step will be to see if I can find a different resonator or something special to run “Cash Registers” through as well as loop it a few times and potentially raise the amplitude a bit.

Cash Registers Instead of Applebees.jpg“Cash Registers” instead of “Applebees.”

For the time being I “turned off” Resonators on the track and experimented with some different audio effects plugins on the track.  Not sure if I’ve seen these in Live 8 – pretty cool:

Trying Audio Effects.jpgTrying audio effects.

I stumbled upon the “vocoder” presets, going along with the reading.  Amazing sounds!

“Robo Voice” is also insanely cool.  Going to figure something out with this.

Both “Robo Voice” and “Insect” have this neat 16th note feel to them.  I’m going to go with it, possibly alternating between the two effects on separate tracks:

Robo Voice and Insect.jpgRobo Voice and Insect

I started building a little arrangement alternating back and forth between “Robo Voice” and “Insect.”  I also decided to add a “chordal” element, but decided to use the “Modulation & Rhythmic” plugins presets.  I found “Strange Creatures” and ran it into “Loop Off Beat.”  Sounds pretty good, like a drone C5 guitar power chord.  Maybe I’ll even run that into distortion.

“Tube Trash” sounds pretty solid under “Dynamic Tube” menu.  I also have NI Guitar Rig 5 – I added that to the track.  Sounds interesting!

This is what I have so far:

With Guitar Rig.jpg

This is what it sounds like:

Now I’m going to attempt to change the pitch of this “guitar” sound into a 1-5-6-4 chord progression.

I duplicated the track four times and now am going to attempt to modulate each track accordingly.  I also found out I had to use the “Brooklyn” “Berlin” resonators because they actually stop playing when the source sound stops.  Some of the others did not:

Building the Guitar Loop

Starting to Sound Like Something!

Now, to mess around with the Drum Rack tracks and make some drums out of this found sound!  I start by dragging the “Cash Registers” sample into the drum rack:

Dragging Cash Registers Into Drum Rack

Not sure if I can get 8 different drum samples out of this but I’ll try!  I leave Ethan’s presets on there for now.

After using the drum rack I was able to find a bass hit from a percussive sound in the file.  I lowered the frequency of the hit within drum rack to simulate a bass drum.  I then isolated a snare hit from a keyboard click.  I came up with a beat within drum rack.  I didn’t exactly get 8 samples, but that was ok.  I just needed bass, snare, and hi-hat.

I found a “tone” from the file and made that into like a pitched hi-hat sound.  I played in quantized rhythms for all of these “instruments.”

Next I added a fade at the end of the track.

Lastly, I loved the chromatic vocoder.  Very spooky.  I duplicated the original audio once more and added this vocoder at the end of the bridge and at the end of the final chorus for effect.  I decided that it would be cool to have a complete breakdown in the bridge of just “hi-hat” and some spooky stuff going on.

Finally, I decided the track needed some bass, so I added bass from a regular sample after first trying to create one from the audio, which was unsuccessful due to having to lower the frequency too much.  Here is the final result:

Cash Registers Final

I’d say the genre of this track is definitely “industrial.”  This is industrial-strength music.

Which sound did you use and why? What steps did you take to make it work in a musical context? Do you feel that you were successful?

In looking to Ethan’s examples, I tried to isolate the percussive and melodic elements of the “Cash Registers” sample.  I thought this sample showed the most potential as far as being able to get elements out of it to create the variety of instruments.  Running the sample through a vocoder/resonator and through a guitar effect made for a great chordal addition to the song.  Isolating the transients in the waveform gave me the percussive instruments.  I do feel like there was some success here in doing this.  I wish I was able to get a bass sound out of the file but there wasn’t enough low frequency information for it to work.  Maybe next time.


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