composition, learning

How to be a sound artist?

It seems to me that nothing encourages me to work on my sound art less than having an arbitrary motivator.  I said I would make some Weekly Beats and gave up after 2 weeks.  I said I’d rise to the RPM challenge and so far i’ve got a lot of short weird sketches with no clear connection to each other.  I’ve promised a “Black Mercury” by the end of Feb and it’s really not looking promising.  Still… I’ve been busy.

Push 2 screen

I’ve always been into sampling, from messing with varispeed tape dubbing through Aureal Vortex and Audigy soundcards with replaceable sample memory to Korg Microsampler & Roland SP404 arrangements.  From my childhood listening to stuff like Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and later… Coil, I’ve always been interested in the Fairlight.  A monolith sampler workstation and the closest thing to what the Push 2 has become in my workflow.  This is great for opening my creativity and enthusiasm but getting used to the new paradigm has slowed my ability to produce work that I want to share.  I feel like the end results are in many ways less overtly experimental as I actually feel like I have more control.

A basic track might start by me recording something from YouTube, a record or a synth.  From the Push I can then convert this to a sample that can be edited, pitched, filtered, warped and effected.  If I choose to slice it into short clips I can convert it further into a drum-rack where each slice is its own discrete sample with completely different setting and a different FX path.  The possibilities seem endless but there is a clear workflow where sonic tangents are discovered and actioned immediately.

Melodyne in Tracktion 6

Lately I’ve been editing some multitracks culled from live jams where I have utilised this approach alongside Joe Musgrove’s electronics and turntablisms.  Below is an example.  The original session ended up with three mono-tracks which i’ve extracted to Tracktion 6 as I find it easier to use than Ableton’s arrangement view.  From there I used Melodyne 4 (which expertly slots into Tracktion – see above image) to polyphonically edit some of the more annoying sounds out, shaping the overall frequency and stereo fields with Melda Linear EQ and Stereo Generator and a touch of Sparkverb.  There is also an instance of Kaleidoscope processing one track into a metallic drone.  I think it works pretty nicely.


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