SACHA ATKINSON - MUSICOLOGIST

Sound Design:

Sound design is one of those things which can be a lot of fun. You get to invent whole worlds through noises and soundscapes. 

The amazing thing is that its not just synthesis and processing which helps make intriguing sounds, you can take anything as a potential sound source as it doesn't have to be a musical instrument strictly speaking. An old cooking pan might have a ring that when processed turns into an underwater drone for instance.

There are other hands on methods too. Attaching a phone tap to an electric motor for emf reading, or hitting a cabbage with a hammer. Using bar-code readers or maybe throwing gravel at a tree!

Then there is processing, do you just stick your sample into a daw for cool effects processing or what else can be done in the real world? for example you could record yourself speaking into a tape recorder, then play it across a room recording onto another ‘tape’ recorder, then repeat the process a few times and your sounds will start to become mysterious. Just like Alvin Lucier did in 1969.

Sound design is an endless world of opportunity and one which can be used for films, games, art, museums and many other places for entertainment or used to hint at concept. Radio plays are a very powerful way to experience sounds design.

So depending on what I am doing and what I am trying to achieve. If I have a goal in mind then I will explore many options. If I’m just going about my day and a sound strikes me than I’ll get my phone out and use voicememo to record the sound for reference, reminder or even use in a piece. Its such a great tool and always at hand.

For processing I have two digital approaches. DAW such as Logic or ProTools, however the latter is my preference for sound recording. But for other signal processing I like to use Max MSP or PD which are modular programming interfaces specifically designed for Music Signal Processing. It is a fab tool for hardware interfacing - check out Labs..

Sword Fight Scene

Under Water Recording

Making a sound - my explanation

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