We’ve all been there.
Sometimes, when you struggle scrolling your own sound library in search of a particular sound that you’d like to insert in your song, you don’t find it. But of course, you’re a synth genius and you don’t have problems turning on your NI Massive or your Camel Audio Alchemy and work that sound out. “It’s just a sine bass with some white noise on it and some LFO on the cutoff filter, nothing complicated, I just need a spot, no long patterns…”, this is what you say to yourself in the very beginning of a destructive sound design session that would take energies off from an engaged nuclear bomb. What really happens is that you find yourself 8 hours later pressing your Launchpad button over and over, again and again, and again, and again, and AGAIN, and AGAIN, with your left finger while you gently move every knob known in the whole universe of your digital synthesizer. And obviously, what you get in return is absolutely not what you’ve been trying to obtain.
We producers are a lazy category of people. We like to sit in our armchair, surrounded by the sound of our loud monitors, feeling the music bypassing our skin with the 60 Hz frequencies. And how do we get this deal with the fact that something that we would like to have in our sound library simply is not there ad we’re not able to obtain it through a digital synth? The answer could be easier than you ever expected: go outside. The best weapon to carry with you is a Zoom F1 sampling microphone, with the auto-level and the low-cut options, a pair of simple headphones to hear what you’re sampling, and a rec button to press. THAT’S IT!
Sometimes we lose an entire day trying to figure out how to realize a sound that resembles a crashing bottle, while we could go to the first liquor store, buy a beer bottle, have a nice couple of minutes of harmony with the world after having it drinked, and then press rec and crash it. The result? It’s obviously something pure and realistic as you would have never ever, ever, guessed. Of course, no one will help you sampling an alien spaceship landing on our planet and destroying humanity forever, but maybe the click of a key on a metallic surface could do. That’s a perfect hihat, dudes. I tried it.
The best of this is when you finally come home with your micro SD card full of recorded samples, from the flushing river to the pooping dog, and you get all this stuff into your drum rack. No fucking way, I played the samples for hours with a stoner smile on my face that I never had even when stoned. The last time I did it, I walked through the streets of the city I live in, which is Padova in the North East of Italy, sampling every titillating object I was able to find. And dudes, this city has a big groove, it’s vibrating from its heart. And I was able to sample this, it’s an experience that every producer should have.
I’m attaching a picture of the city, just to give an idea of which sounds it, or better she, could produce:
As one could expect looking at this picture, the result of the sampling session was not a drum and bass song, because that would have required a sampling session inside a heavy metal refining plant or into the airport. But the interesting fact is that the song rather wrote itself when playing the drum rack with the sampled sounds. That sounds were natural, realistic, clean, precise and perfectly what I wanted. Here’s the result, uploaded on SoundCloud:
I’m not gonna spend any other words trying to convince you that sometimes, when it gets hard (and I’m talking about the producing, you filthy perverted), you should simply go outside and try to absorb the surrounding environment. It has sounds, I can guarantee it to you.