Tag Archives: strange shift

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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Vorpal Sounds 3

Hi. I’ve been a little busy with some construction work in the studio lately but being almost done with it, I figured I could make a new post.

I have been abusing “fastconv” in the last 2 posts so I wanted to change things up using “vocode” under the category “formants” this time. Now I’m not very well acquainted with the technical details of the CDP process as usual but vocoding is traditionally used for talking synth-like effects (Kraftwerk, Daft Punk, etc.) Nowadays they seem to make a comeback to process and mangle all sorts of different sounds and get unexpected timbres.

So I was hoping to go for that kind of effect. My 1st sound was a random field recording I’ve done with my Zoom H4n. I don’t exactly remember what the object was but it’s basically a random metallic hit. I believe I’ve transposed it down 6 semitones beforehand.

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Vorpal Sounds 2

You probably haven’t noticed but I’ve decided to give a common name to the tutorial kind of posts, so that I avoid titles like “Yet another sound design walkthrough using CDP vol 15” as that not only looks bad but is also unnecessarily hard to come up with. This one is just simpler. And more catchy. Obviously. I’ll probably change it dozen more times.

Edit: I’ve indeed decided to change it again and simply go for Vorpal Sounds. Read about it here.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten it out of the way, here’s the sound we’re working on today, another snippet taken from an old record:

The first process we’ll take a look at is “shift1” under the “strange” category. It was my first favorite CDP effect and I still use it pretty often. It’s obviously some sort of frequency shifting but it’s apparently linear and you can usually get strange inharmonic sounds out of it. It also has more advanced modes (shift2, 3, etc.) that you can pick specific frequency ranges and tune them up/down individually. It’s a lot of fun.

For simplicity though, what I did here was just shifting the whole sound up 200 cycles. Here are my settings. Please note the overlap parameter is activated and set to 1.120. I’ll embarass myself a little by saying I’m not entirely sure what the “points” and “overlap” settings do but they appear on a lot of processes (think spectral ones?) and can influence the end results quite a bit. I’ve set it up here randomly just by listening so not much to comment here but I’ll probably talk about them more at some point.

Right, so the shifting effect sounds like this:

Even keeping it basic (and maybe adding some FX), this could work nicely as an abstract loop in an experimental setting but I wanted to take it a bit further. So I convolved it with the original sample using fastconv. More about fastconv on my previous post. And here’s how it’s set up in Renoise. I also maximized both samples before using fastconv.

Until this point I wanted to make an abstract loop but this sounded pretty cool when I transposed it down 11 semitones so I changed my mind and go for a drone/soundscape kind of feel:

So I added some effects in Renoise. No big deals, just a reverb and delay and also an EQ notch to prevent a peaking frequency to overpower the sound. The final result:

Not too bad. A little chaotic but it could work as a drone and I like the incidental sounding metallic clangs and shimmering sounds. And you can keep going using slicing, reversing, transposing, effects, cdp etc. So as you can see, it’s possible to go to a million different places and get more interesting sounds and indeed, I find that usually to be the hardest part in sound design: Pick the best possibilities between almost endless variations. But eventually, depending on your mood and the context, you have to make some decisions, so that you actually get things done.

And that concludes the 2nd tutorial. All sounds are downloadable and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading/listening. Would love to hear some comments and feedback if you have something on your mind. See you around.