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Close Encounters of a Special Kind – Part 6

sound design 101

Close Encounters of a Special Kind – Part 6

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There are a lot of things a sound designer should know. Most of them you´ll find in every sound design 101 and in most of the articles about sound. There are also a lot of things – exciting things, interesting things, surprising things – a sound designer discovers while doing his or her work. But first of all there is a very basic thing to do, and this basic thing we should not forget is …. listening. I hear you saying: “Ah, yes, why does he tell us that?! We are all listening, of course we are!” Well, my dear readers, let me tell you: you are not! Not always at least. Not every second of your life (even when we sleep we can continue listening – really!). And nor am I, as the following story shows.

sound design 101

Have you ever thought of using an empty tin (there was dog food in it) to produce a drum sample set? Well, perhaps you may, and perhaps you even tried it – just for fun at least. But have you ever noticed, that exactly this tin delivers partials (and their development in time when hit) to make great string sounds? I bet you have not. Nor had I before two of our numerous grandchildren came to visit us. They were in a really bad mood, they were arguing all the time, and suddenly the argument developed into a full grown hassle. Václav – the younger one (4 years old) took an empty tin from the kitchen line and threw it at his older brother (Bronislav – 7 years old). But the tin didn´t hit Bronislav. Instead it banged against the fridge, fell to the ground and rolled under the table. The tin was empty, as I told you, but only half way open, the lid was bend upwards, but still fixed to the rest of the vessel. And so, with the tin rolling under the table, the lid repeatedly hit the kitchen floor.

My wife “prepared” to get angry with the two children, but I waved to her to stay silent, crept under the table – my wife and the siblings watched me equally surprised – took the tin and let it roll across the kitchen floor a second time. I followed the vessel – still on hands and knees – and threw it a third time before I was sure: I had noticed something, that I wouldn´t ever had expected to hear from a rolling tin: a, well, let me say, a “whiff” of a plucked violin.

how to do sound design

Now I have to tell you, that I´m producing a comprehensive series of videos inspired by the book “Handmade Electronic Music” by Nicolas Collins. And so I got the idea to test this tin – together with a lot of other items – by putting it on top of a vibrating speaker. (By the way: this series of videos is going to be published on one of my YouTube channels called “rofilmmedia1” : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWbT7qAWHLTQUu5KGGm042Q).

Anyway. I had to collect things now, and I did: tins and cans and boxes and empty bottles all of different shapes and different sizes. It would make a difference, if or if not these vessels are going to be empty of filled with things, which can make a noise of their own, so I thought. Therefore I continued collecting things. Things to be put in all of these tins and cans etc. I collected mainsprings from old watches, little cjips of glas from an old lustre, small pieces of aluminium, little bells from a Christmas tree, little aluminium papers where chocolates had been wrapped in, and a lot more. The whole table in my studio was covered with bottles and tins and all these tiny bits, and after a while I needed a good deal of the floor to put things as well. My wife – she is used not to comment anything that´s going on in my studio – looked through the ope studio door by accident, stopped, took a more detailed look, and asked me why I had emptied the dustbin in my studio, and when – if at all – I intended to do the cleaning up again. I didn´t answer at once, because I was thinking about how to organise the recordings of all these different things and different possible combinations (I had even gathered different speakers to put these things upon in the meantime). I came upon a system in the end, and labelled every item on the table and on the floor with numbers according to the system of my future recordings.

Then I went to my wife and said: “I´ve already tidied everything up!” She came to have a look, stopped short, looked at me and said:” But it´s the same mess as before! Nothing has changed!” I answered: “But darling! Everything has changed! All things are carrying a number now!” She turned around. Obviously she was not interested in further explanations any more. Well, it´s my studio after all!

… to be continued

to part 1: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/337

to part 2: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/345

to part 3: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/353

to part 4: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/362

to part 5: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/367

to part 7: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/383

to part 8: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/388

to part 9: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/394

to part 10: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/405

to part 11: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/409

to part 12: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/417



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