Tag Archives: ring modulation

VS 27: Randomizing Things

Hello. After a rather long hiatus, I’m back. With a brand new tutorial. This is a technique that combines a few different methods while throwing in some randomization to generate a lot of useable sounds in a quick and efficient manner. Randomness is something I admittedly don’t use enough but it is a great way of generating ideas that you won’t easily achieve by manually configuring everything.

Downloads: Project file, Randomizing Instrument, Effect & Mod Instrument

So, let’s get started. Our beginning sample is something from Blu Mar Ten’s “Jungle Jungle” pack, which is a fantastic freebie that sees a lot of use in my projects.

And first step, timestretching using Akaizer with these settings.

What I’m looking for here is just a long-ish sample with variations in dynamics and timbre. So you can feed pretty much anything into this sort of process and usually get decent results.

Now it’s time to set up our generation scheme. This will take some explaining and it would be best if you check out the Renoise project or Redux instrument to see how things work in detail.

First, the phrase. This is basically a lot of notes with random sample offsets (0Sxx) and reverse commands (B0) which result in our sample being randomly chopped up and reversed. To randomize sample offsets, first I fill the pattern with 0Sxx commands, then select that column and randomize (Alt-F7) and humanize (Ctrl-H). Unfortunately the same thing doesn’t work for reverses for some reason, so I end up manually entering random values.

The phrase length is 512 lines, as long as it can get. A LPB setting of 1 and a single note for every 2 lines ensure that this is a rather slow sequence of repeated notes. You can go slower or faster, depending on the kind of sounds you are after.

So, this is just chopping the sample and reversing it randomly, like I mentioned above. Let’s move on and add more randomness. First, pitch, which is acquired with just a random LFO here. It’s not so fast so that the note changes don’t occur too abruptly, like in the middle of an ongoing sound. I suppose you can achieve the same result with a randomized stepper device in a more elegant way but I just realized that when I was typing this. So, yeah.

Next, filter. For being extra fancy, we’re going with Amplitude Modulation here. When randomly modulated, this gives us 3 basic variations: Obvious AM/RM enharmonic sound, sharp/metallic high frequency content and stuttering sounds. Combined with random offsets and pitch, some will sound pretty cool.

And finally time for a handy trick I’ve recently discovered: Alternating between different envelopes. You can go crazy with this, but a simple and useful option is volume envelopes. To make this work we first need to duplicate our sample. (3 times, for this example.) Then duplicate the random modulation sets we’ve created. (Again 3 times.) And route each sample to a different set.

Next, I create 3 basic volume envelopes (decaying, reversed, rise & fall), one for each mod set. Now, when we go to the keyzones tab, there’s an overlap setting in the bottom right corner. Default mode results in all samples being played simultaneously. If we select “cycle” instead, this causes the sounds being played back one at a time and in a sequential order.

Combined with our phrase and different mod sets, this results in switching between three different volume envelopes continously when we hold a single note. Add in random pitches, AM, sample offsets and reverses and voila! TONS of variation.

Now several of these randomly generated sounds will suck but there will be some good ones. Here are a few that I picked.

We could call it a day here but let’s take things further. And add a second layer of processing. The idea is simple, using modulations (volume, pitch, filters) and effects (reverb, chorus w/e) to make these sounds more interesting. I have a tutorial here that explains this process in detail, so I won’t repeat it again. Just slice the big sample you created, pick the best bits and get dirty.

One thing to note though, pitching these sounds down work really well (even in large amounts), mostly because of the harmonic complexity and high frequencies added by AM. And since it also lowers the speed, some of these will sound rather dark & moody. Give it a try!

Here’s what I got after messing around with effects and modulations:

So there you go. Hope you find this useful and if you have any comments/questions/feedback, let me know in the comments!

Until next time,


(Background image by Frank Fujimoto.)

VS 9: Layering

Hi. Layering is a quite important concept in sound design and it’s not something I’ve covered much yet. There are two reasons for that. First I’m not very good at it :-) Second, it’s something I usually do in context.

I think the second point is interesting as I prefer any kind of sample to be quite stripped down and basic, so that I can layer, process and tweak as necessary inside a track’s context. But general trend seems to be on the opposite side: People seem to want really “produced” and “full” sounding stuff.

Nevertheless, I still plan to stay on the building block approach most of the times. But this week we’ve got some layering to do. Not to get a super produced sound, but to make it a bit more interesting.

All right, that’s too much talk already. This week’s journey through sound begins with a clip that I’ve sampled from an old record.

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