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Wednesday, 10 September 2014


I've talked about this in various ways before, but I was reminded of how important it is to seperate your sound design sessions to you creative arrangement sessions by a couple of people recently. Firstly I was talking to Ross Deschamps from Zombie Cats a week or so ago, to organise a masterclass with my employer, SAE Institute. Anyways we got to discussing production methods, and at one point he remarked that one of the hardest things with making many styles of electronic music was the sound design aspect, particularly in bass music genres as you have to really make people go, in his words, "I wonder how the fuck he made that sound?" Now obviously it's going to pose a challenge to pile on enough processing to a sound in the middle of arranging a track. This is pretty self evident.

However another important factor is where you get your ideas from and your sound, in that you want your sound to be unique so that you can cut through the noise that's out there. Sound design plays a huge part in this. Generic samples and generic synthesizer presets lead to a predictable result, best summed up by saying that if you ask the same questions, you'll get the usual answers. Now again this might be self evident to some people reading this, but it's not always something that you can easily be conscious of during your production process, and it takes discipline to enforece an approach that doesn't rely too heavily on sample packs.

So my suggestion to you, after having done this for the last 3 months, is commit yourself to doing a peice of sound design or creative sampling everyday. Just roll with whatever you're feeling on that day, if you're wanting to try out some new chords then maybe make some pad sounds. If you want to EQ and process some drum loops, then do so. I was reading an AMA on Reddit the other day by the Drum and Bass producer Emperor and he stated this is a large part of his process when producing. And this ties back in to what I was saying before about finding your own sound. If you have a bunch of sounds you've made from scratch, or samples you've mangled beyond recognition, it stands that nobody else has these sounds. Furthermore, and Empror also made this point, these samples can spark ideas for a track. Not only this but creative sound design where you ignore the usual rules of mixing and apply whatever effects feel right in whatever order can be an enlightening process and teach you about the very nature of effects and how they interact.

Read the AMA by Emperor here.

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