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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Using Field Recordings

Using field recordings, or foley sounds as they are sometimes called, can be an interesting and highly unique approach to electronic music production. Sound design with synthesis is somewhat systematic, looking at the same oscillators and the same modifiers can often lead to predictable results. If you are after a new approach, why not incorporate the use of recorded audio? You can use any modifiers you'd find in a synth in a sampler (ADSR envelopes, LFO's, filters, and the like) but thats not really the point. The uniqueness comes from the fact that no two sounds ever really repeat in nature. The environment you're in, even the weather and other sounds happening in the distance at the time of recording will significantly affect two similar or generated sounds occurring in different places. You have such a rich tapestry of sounds with unique tonal characteristics to draw from.

I often hear in modern electronic music an over reliance on synthesised sounds. If you are using digital synthesisers for all or most of the elements in your track, such as your kick, snare, bass, pad or ambient sounds, hats and so on, your mix will sound somewhat flat and one dimensional. Not only this but similar tonal qualities in sounds make them harder to separate and distinguish making a mix harder to sculpt. The problem is heightened when similar processing is added to said sounds.

So next time you are working on a track, record some sounds. Fill a plastic bottle with rice and use it as a shaker. Find two pieces of wood, smack them together and layer this with your synthesised snares. Record other sounds in different environments and stretch them out to make eerie ambient textures, there aren't really any limits to what you can do. Add some crazy processing. For some perspective, the artist Billain set himself a challenge to see how many sounds he could make out of the one recorded piece of source material and he ended up with 500 different sounds...

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