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Scroll III : Sound Sources and Manipulation

  • Use unusual sound sources like radio, TV, video, old computer games, ragga dancehall tapes, records. If you got loads of bucks go for the Portishead approach: Hire and record a classical orchestra. Cut the session on a dubplate and use it for scratching.
  • A neat dub technique is to run an AM radio (with a knob) into effects and slowly tune between stations - really trippy static/pink noise, and you can get snippets of music or speech.
    submitted by davyvelocirapt0r
  • Use cheap toy walkie talkies near each other for delay,static, and distortion. Employed by KMFDM
    submitted by davyvelocirapt0r
  • For more lively pad sounds: Record several layers of different string, organ or choral sounds using your sequencer. Then record midicontroller data separately to modulate the midi volume of the different layers (each layer must have it's own midi channel number). Thus you can get a permanently changing sound. Record the resulting string sound on a tape and sample it from there. The tape will compress the signal and add a very warm distortion effect to the louder parts (tape saturation depending on the recording level set). Adrian Sherwood
  • All samplers offer a method to loop samples and you will have a hard time to create a natural sounding smooth loop with anything else than a synth wave. So why give a damn? It's very fun to make bad loops (for example with voices, instrumental sounds or even drum hits or percussion) and use them as effect sounds or for very strange melodies. Ever played a melody with a looped snare drum?
  • Everybody thinks General Midi sounds suck. So just go ahead and use them in another way than what they were intended for, for example by transposing them by two octaves or by editing the attack time. (e.g. A choir sound with a fast attack can be used in a percussive way)
  • Maybe it's time to start recycling those eighties sounds that everybody loved to hate for the last few years, like for example "ochestral hit", "timpani" or the Simmons drums - remember the Miami Vice sound track with those pink flamingos?. (PS: 7 years later.. i wrote that on the page around 1998, by now the idea of recycling eighties sounds is so common that it's hardly necessary to list it here)
  • You can sample organ+rythm-guitar chord-hits and filter it with band or higpass and mid resonance for the fat dub-tekno sound.
    Submitted by Lone from
  • "..if you take a delay pedal like a Boss DD-5, run a short cable from one output to the input, and another cable from the second output to an amp, you can get a lot of cool sounds just by tweeking the knobs, i was able to get a sound similar to a prop plane taking off.."
    Submitted by Jon-Paul Wooten
  • Use your mixing desk as a sound source (part 1): Connect an effect unit to every aux send of your desk. The output of each effect is connected to an input channel of the desk. Now you can send any effect output to any other effect. Use an additional sound source like a rim shot from a drum machine to trigger the whole system periodically. Adjust the auxiliary sends on all channels used until you hear a continuos sound of constant volume. Now start moving the auxiliary sends and filter settings to keep the soundscape in motion. Don't forget to record the whole session so that you can sample the best bits afterwards. Best results are achieved with the cheapest effect units.
    Submitted by Dan D.N.A. (Skrupel, Bio Bonsai)
  • Use your mixing desk as a sound source (part 2): Patch the same tape track into two channels on your desk. Invert the phase of one channel and pan both channels centre. Solo them and balance the faders till you can't hear anything at all. Then, start messing with the eq on one of the channels. Your mid sweeps are now band pass filters, and shelving eqs become low and high pass.
    If it all starts sounding good, take it one step further and patch in a compressor on one channel, it turns into a weird kind of noise gate. All this works even better on a hard disk system, as you dont have to keep messing with levels so much to keep the cancellation workin.
    Submitted by flo
  • Overload your equipment at all costs. While running a simple breakbeat into a jury-rigged Gemini dj sampler, I somehow managed to turn up everything way too high and the sound that resulted was an absolutely beautiful shatter. I reccomend adding something like a detuned bass hit from a Mattel Synsonics drum machine, run through too many intermediaries (mike it coming out of a mildly distorted cheapo guitar amp) to set off the frantic noise.
    Submitted by Chad Crawford Disciples' Studio
  • To have some great illbient or trip hop sounds, try cutting up samples. Take a piece of music (for the best results, try something with distinctive sounds, i.e.,chorus to Hard Knock Life from Jay-Z, White Zombie, old acid house, old industrial,etc.). Then, for something like a synth line, eliminate any drastic highs or lows. For something different keep them in. Then just cut one part out, and paste it back in somewhere. Do this randomly for a few minutes. Then try different effects for different stuff. Cut the treble, boost the bass, add super-echo, play it backwards. Try this approach with vocals to get Orbital-style cut up words.
    Submitted by Milkman Dan from Mindfields
  • If you have one of those portable minidisc players, here are some things to try out: record some vocals/ speech directly into it and index the tracks so that they are about 1 or 2 syllables long and then hit random and record this output onto tape . this is great for getting alien speech fx, also try reversing some of the fragments too, or go the whole way and run it through a ring mod! for weirder sounds , record some crowd noises or ambient sound in a train station, do the same thing and you begin to hear strange melodies out of nothing! (as done by skylab)
    Submitted by The Nematod
  • For insane cut mad sample manipulation without the painstaking copy and pasting, approach your favorite software as an instrument, in itself. One of my favorites is old Cool Edit Pro. Set up a second version of the program and set the record input onto "Wave Mapper," Window's general monitor. With this recording, on the original copy of the software, tweek effects parameters through the Preview function. Time Stretch splices the given sample up at a frequency specified in Hz, which can be converted to a BPM speed (1 Hz = 1 splice/sec.) The sound of changing pitch without tempo, in real time, is limited by the processor and glitches, causing the sample to skip or "desample," similarly heard on IDM acts like Squarepusher or AFX. Tapping and backspacing tempo parameters to the desired BPM causes an incrdible glitch stream in fairly reliable time. (For Merzbow, follow this Preview function trick in CE's Parametric EQ with dB set between +77 and +4000 (watch your ears!))
    submitted by smith502
  • Try this: Find a song that has a section that has something playing in reverse. (Alot of old 60s psychadelic music has this) Then sample it and play the sample backwards making the forward parts backwards and the backwards parts foward. Sometimes you can get cool sounds.
    submitted by Pat Smith
  • Take a cheap guitar amp and turn up the distortion all the way so that it gives off mad feedback. Get a phaser and phase that feedback. You get a weird revolving sound. Record it, then put reverb(or delay) on it.
    Submitted by Dan Bruner
  • create different beats using a chorus pedal: "just crank every level or knob on the chorus pedal as high as they'lll go (ex.effect level, rate, depth, etc) and with no signal you can make a pulse... i was never able to do too much with it, cuz it'll kill any other beats, but you can shift the rate and you can make heart beats, foot steps, etc. if you get it right good for intros and things.
    Submitted by dj tuppy (formerly dj gandhi)
  • "..i got some cool percussion sounds when i sampled smacking an echo mic (microphone with built-in reverb spring) in my casio sk-1 and playing two keys an octave apart so that one repeats twice while the lower one plays once.."
    Submitted by Jon-Paul Wooten
  • put a near dead battery into a phase pedal (or wait until the one in there is almost dead). Then run the phase to a tape echo unit and/or spring reverb unit and tweak the depth setting back and forth on the phase pedal to get some really strange low frequency squeals. Since these conditions are hard to create consistantly, record your experimentation on a reel to reel or other recording device and add them later where desired.
    submitted by Apostle Solomon Jabby "The Dub Revelator"
  • This 'near dead battery' effect can also be achieved by using an AC/DC adapter set to a voltage that is too low, One day I found an adapter where I could regulate the voltage and used this on a mini marchall ->OEPS<-
    submitted by Jeroen
  • Excerpts from Barry McEachan's description of his "Small Shit Un-named Keyboard that cost £6.50 pounds at the Cat Rescue charity shop in Easter Road": [...] It has four drum pads, bass drum, snare, hi hat and a cowbell type thing. The bass drum sounds nothing like a bass drum [...]. The one trick that I found you can do with this is: Switch it on. Press the bass drum and turn off the keyboard just after you press it. The sound pitches down and fades out. Now when you turn it back on quickly enough, the sound builds back up. This sounds very unique as you can here that it is something being switched on and then off but the effect you get is amazing. I used this in a track I did a while back and put it through a huge gated reverb and then through a flanger, the noise at the other end was huge.
  • Open a digital watch and take out the watch module including battery and display. Connect a two phase cable to the microphone connector of a tape deck. Then pierce a needle through each phase of the cable at its other end. Press the Record button on the tape recorder and set the counter to zero. Now you can start touching signal lines on the watch module with your two needles. You should be able to hear some pretty interesting oscillations. Write down the counter value when you hear something interresting and sample it afterwards (I tried this as a twelve year old with my first digital watch after the display broke. I was very amazed by the sounds I heard - But unfortunately forgot to record..)
  • Don't overlook the toys! Anything made of bright plastic that looks like there's batteries and a little speaker in it. (Usually to be found in toy stores or near the checkout counter at the supermarket. Often containing sweets, chewing gum, etc...) Open, locate the wires leading to the speaker, connect them to a 1/4-inch jack, close again (you may need to melt a small hole for the wire. A hot nail will do the trick). Now you've got a new sound source that you can run through any effects you like. Be careful with gain, though, some of those signals can be pretty hot.
    submitted by André Champaloux
  • Any old metal detector from the flea market and 3 bucks for the 9 volt it needs can get you some pretty good siren type effects pumped right through the 3/4 inch headphone jack with volume/level control.Most have a built in speaker as well. Move a metallic object around under the detector for variations. Use different types of metal to bug out further.
    submitted by the arkmaster,
  • helpful when sampling from vinyl etc: "I just borrowed a Vestax kill switch box off a dj friend and it's surprisingly versatile. I use it to sample from vinyl etc straight into the computer/sampler , that way I can separate out the frequencies I want. This is brilliant for cutting breaks over the rest of a track , and also when used as an insert , as the eq is a lot steeper than that on the mixer."
    submitted by The Nematod
  • sample with an old akai or something similar. most 80s samplers are dirt cheap nowadays, and add a distinct lofi edge to samples.
    submitted by Steve

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