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Close Encounters of a Special Kind – Part 12

sound design 101

Close Encounters of a Special Kind – Part 12

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Milk, Rubber and Lucky Accidents

I know, I promised to write something about reverb first, but simple life itself is a great sound designer sometimes, and so is – milk. Yes, I said “milk”, or better said: these middle sized half open boxes where they put 12 units of milk in. Yes, it is all about sound – just be patient. I imagine, that all of you have tried to record a strained rubber band once.

sound design 101Not bad, quite interesting, nice – but nothing really exciting. The sound you get is rather thin with higher pitches (tighter strained rubber), and kind of “disembodied” and weak with deeper pitches (less strained rubber band). I was sitting in front of my PC monitor and was writing the first article of what is going to be a (SENSATIONAL, SUPER EXCITING, EXTRAORDINARILY IMPORTANT) new series of articles in combination with (more than only) a few video clips about “Krell” music here at my website, when my wife came in and put one of these cardboard milk boxed on the table. The bin for paper products to be recycled is in my studio at the moment – I can´t remember why. While I was looking at the empty half open box with its high walls on two sides stabilised by the lower walls on the other two sides thinking of a polite way to tell my wife not to disturb me for at least the next 2 hours I suddenly got an idea: the dull and rather muffled mechanical resonances of cardboard constructions may be – may exactly be – what is missing in the sound of a strained rubber band tuned to deeper pitches. Piezo elements (contact microphones) shall be the weapon of choice to pick up the sound. So I cut two slits in the box using a sharp and small scalpel, took a rubber band and forced it through these slits – not special precautions were needed, the band stuck firmly just on its own, and started recording. And indeed: The results gave wonderful material for building up base sounds – not only drone like once.

Spooky Messages

Some of you may know it: I´m working on a series of videos inspired by the book “Handmade Electronic Music – The Art of Hardware Hacking” by Nicolas Collins. My series is called “DIY Hardware for Music Production and Sound Design”, and the first part (number one on the YouTube playlist) is here:

sound design 101The third video, the one I´m working on right now, is all about electro-magnetic waves, and coils, and how to make use of them in music production and (here mainly) sound design. One of the principles of my series is inexpensiveness, meaning: you must not spend a lot of money (no money at all with some devices and experiments) to follow my series and recreate the things I´m doing in the series. I had tried a couple of different coils, made even some myself (quite cumbersome kind of work), when I came upon an old transformer (a loud “hurray” to our weekly yard sale). With its huge coils wound around its metal core transformers make excellent receivers for electro-magnetic waves (you´ll have to amplify them nevertheless). I soldered a mono plug to the ends of the primary coil. A transformer has a primary coil, where the high voltage goes in, and one or more secondary coils, where the different lower voltages come out. The primary coil is larger (more windings) than the secondary coils, if the transformer is meant to reduce the voltage “that comes out of the wall” to lower voltages used by our devices. This primary coil should serve me as a receiver for the electro-magnetic waves, that surround us all the time. I wanted to use my Zoom recorder to amplify and record what my coil receiver would “catch”. I tried the waves coming from CD players (starting, reading, switching it off...). I scanned the electro-magnetic activities of my computer (the CDP, the RAM, the harddisk drives), I examined the microwave in the kitchen, and even the lamps in my flat. I got really interesting sounds, of a diversity I had not expected. I learned though, that it was necessary to “denoise” the recordings most of the times. “Denoise” means removing of the omnipresent 50 Hz hum of the central power supply line as well as some high frequency hum. I also recorded the waves being sent from my computer monitor. But when I listened to the results, when I listened to what the monitor was “saying” after denoising I experienced something surprising. Surprising to such an amount I may well call it a shock: Spooky voices and whispers, that sounded “inhumanly human” accompanied by creepy melodies played by electric bass guitars from outer space. Amazing!!!!

Here is this whole video number 3 in the series:


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 6: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/376

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 13: https://www.dev.rofilm-media.net/node/519


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