Environmental Sounds Used as Virtual Instruments

The film maker of a short horror film I’m working on asked if I could get some music together quickly in order to make a contest deadline.  This was not to be the final version of the film and we would continue working on it after another editor worked his magic.  I’m always up for a challenge, so I said, “Yes, I can do that!”.

In our first meeting we had talked about using sounds from the environment to create a sense of suspense and eeriness.  I purchased a Tascam iM2, which works with the older iPhone 4, to record audio.  In retrospect, a fuzzy windscreen would have served me well by absorbing the sound of high winds I encountered out in the field, but I didn’t have time to get one with the deadline upon us. I created a makeshift windscreen out of a piece of felt which helped a little bit.

My wife, Kate, joined me and filmed while I recorded the sound of traffic crossing over a bridge on highway 126 in Valencia, CA from the dried out riverbed below, “in the wash.”  We then ventured further down the riverbed, away from the traffic,  to try and capture the sound of wind rustling the leaves on a tree.  The windscreen would have helped here.  Most of those recordings are unusable because of other ambient sounds tainting the samples.  Fortunately, I’ll have another go at it once the final version of the film is cut.

We then ventured to a nearby little league baseball field.  I recorded the sounds of a rock being tapped against the base of a flagpole.  Kate ran her fingernails over some corrugated plastic tubing on the outfield fence to create a few more creepy sounds. We had a good time tapping, banging and scraping found objects to create my eventual soundscapes.

I took my newly recorded samples home and imported them into Logic Pro X’s EXS24 sampler.  I added a few effects and reversed some of the sounds to create some one-of-a-kind virtual instruments.  I composed music, my melodies, for the film using the orchestral samples from the East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra library as well as some of the included Logic synths.

Environmental Sounds Used as Virtual Instruments


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