When using found sounds in your Trance music projects, it’s important to remember that there are no rules. In just a few minutes we will transform an air hit FX into a multi-percussive instrument in this insightful tutorial.
We are going to use this sound for today’s lesson.
[aside title="Absolute Creativity!"] There are no garbage sounds in the world, only sounds that still need to be re-designed![/aside]
It’s a very basic air hit FX, similar to that of a small air compressor tool when the air tune is being removed, A common sound in and around automotive shops. Not something you would necessarily think of when it comes to Trance music. And that is exactly why I like the idea of using it. It can be a real struggle to find unique sounds that are both original and not likely to be heard in anyone else’s productions. It is these very small details that set songs apart in the Trance genres.
For this example I am going to use Ultrabeat, which is a very powerful and flexible drum synth, sampler and sequencer. I could have chosen any number of plugins to use for this. Ultrabeat is just good for very fast workflows, and easy to manipulate the MIDI data when programming the sounds once they are designed. You can accomplish the same kind of results if you follow along with your favorite program.
This particular sound is well short of one second in length, so the first things we need to consider are the types of instruments we want to transform this found sound into. One option, that I personally love to use, is to manipulate the sample so that it can be used as a few different sounds, depending on what the music demands. So here, I will change this short air hit FX into something along the lines of a hi-hat, a shaker and a clap. All three of these are common in Trance music, and it’s also a great way to ensure I’m not going to go overboard with any one element, seeing how I will only be able to use one at a time.
If you are unfamiliar with Ultrabeat, it is much like any other sampler, except that the filters and various other tools commonly used for percussion and drum synthesis are built-in. This keeps a lot of other things, not needed for sounds like this to be made, out of the way and allows you to focus on the task at hand. So it’s fairly streamlined. I have loaded the sample already.
Now to set up the envelope.
The envelope is used to modulate certain parameters in the Noise oscillator, sample oscillator, a Ring Mod and the Filter panel. The reason I chose to do this is because of consistency, as it ensures the sound develops evenly.
I have also set the main volume of the sample itself to be controlled by the velocity of the MIDI notes used to trigger the sound. This can be a very effective and uncomplicated way of producing different sounds from one sample, in conjunction with gating manipulation.
Before we move on to any kind of processing of the sound outside of Ultrabeat, I need to tweak the EQ slightly.
A compressor is inserted. Set up properly, you can allow more of the quieter elements come to the surface which makes a found sound instrument like this one much more dynamic.
Some reverb is added to allow the sound to ring out and feel much more natural than it did before.
A small amount of tape delay is added as an effect. This helps to stretch it out a bit more and is in line without he goal of most Trance music rhythms, to keep things moving, rolling and driving forward.
Below are three audio samples. The original is first, as it was heard earlier in the tutorial. The second sample is our new multi-instrument in action. And the third, is our new sounds incorporated with some other instruments to give you a better idea of how it may be used. Obviously, most examples like this one come off as a bit cheesy until you apply the same ideas to your own sounds and invest the time and effort to make it sound the way you like it. As you can hear, there are still more elements missing from the rhythm, but it is one step closer to being complete now and we have introduced a sound completely unique to this particular track!
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