The idea for this thread is to list interesting sound sources that could be good sound beds and atonal ambiances for music and sound design.
Rivers and Creeks
Beaches and waves
Fireplaces and Fires
City street / street-scapes
Cricket and cicada drones
Household and industrial appliances
Data to audio conversion
I was messing around recording the sound of a paper bag being rustled up close to a mic, then pitched it down, added some reverb and for added silkyness, put on a slow sweeping hi-pass filter. It really had this atmospheric sound that reminded me of moving rubble and rocks in a cave.
Google sound effects creation blogs - heaps of guys not in music but in foley and effects have a lot of extremely useful tips we music people don't always think of straight away.
I like to visit interesting places with a zoom recorder. The old guy down the road and his woodwork shed, or my parent's collection of old useless junk, or the train museum & workshop, etc, etc. There's literally a never-ending world of sound out there.
In terms of atonal . . . basically you want to find things that don't generate an obvious pitch.... so that's heaps of stuff, but not things like metallic clangs, glasses, or anything which has a discernible periodic waveform.
Ambience: Shed or garage doors creaking open and closed.
Sliding up all the strings on the neck of a guitar with a pen.
Striking very reverberant objects and keeping the tail only (try a big metal wheel barrow).
Use good mics to record inside a big workshop and be selective about what you keep.
Messing around with big acoustic instruments: e.g. put sustain pedal down on a piano, take off lid collect some string effects (especially lower strings).
Investigate some exotic musical instruments, like the waterphone [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
percussion layers: striking or slamming wooden doors or wooden table tops (especially if you place objects on top of them).
striking a metal tool kit full of tools and fasteners is a favourite of mine.
Stomping on a wooden floor with a tin full of nails near your feet.
That's off the top of my head... it's never ending (and I think it's a lot of fun too).
Yeah there's a guy who buys/sells/tunes pianos where my studio is and I've been considering getting some recordings made in his little room. That reminds me actually, he just recently bought in a grand piano last week.
Hey man, a lot of synths such as Massive have in-built white-noise/brown-noise/other noise generators in-built, so that would be a good place to start. Also, for samples of waterfalls, etc., Google is the best resource by far, try searching something like 'royalty free sound effects'. Good luck!
First I thought of making a list, but godamn - everything could be atonal noise. You could take a sneeze and run it through a long reverb and distort the fuck out of it. Then you could do the same with a fart, and a hickup, and then a caugh.
Even my two singing daughters right now (singing each their own made-up song) along with the random TV noise is atonal noise, at least to me. I need some peace and quiet it seems.
Edit: If you haven't already, try making feedback loops (if your DAW allows it). It's a cool way of getting noise from pretty much anything, from very short sounds to long sounds. Throw in a pitch shifter (and a limiter!) in there and the result might be something like this:
I'm sure Bipolar Joe also has a few tricks up his sleeve that he might share.
Man, I could talk for days about .RAW stuff and databending.
Not really sure how far down the rabbit hole I should go. Recording to cassette, turning the spindle manually. Stick a cork or column of pennies to a small speaker, use speaker with mic', put speaker on cymbal / snare / lamp or something, record that. Try run a signal through non audio equipment (Not entirely recommended). Street lights sound cool if you hit them in just the right place. Noise reduction, using a loud signal as the noise profile, get R2D2 bleeps. Wasp in a jar. Really old metal stuff like meat grinders or whatever. Floppy drives make cool glitch percussion. Put a little water in a frying pan, hit pan, wobble it, warbley goodness. Circuit bent stuff, of course, kind of goes without saying. Stick cassette / VHS tape and / or a floppy disk to something, run tape head over it, can also use a credit card. HAM radio, nothing sounds quite like it. Put crappy headphones on feet, use as microphones, take a walk, record your feet. Crush some glass very slowly (With great care). You know those little bits of sticks still on trees, where a small branch fell off? Pluck it, do a live acoustic show.
There's a bunch more, just dick around, really. If it feels retarded, it's probably good.
Personally am fond of things like, the sound of segmented highway asphalt. The subtle phase of a stereo recording of a oscillating fan in an angular room. The hum of the air conditioner or the rhythmic roars of the dishwasher. Machines are great sources of (mostly) toneless drones and rhythmic noises.
It inspires thoughts, though, of going a bit gonzo setting up Rube Goldberg-esque recording scenarios. Rigging a slow funnel to drop grains of sand into an inverted cymbal as a mic swings by from it's cord like a pendulum. Placing resonant objects under the gutter drain at various heights and recording different "levels" of this structure with individual mics and mixing those in the stereo field. Dropping a grip of superballs at the exposed springs of my fold out couch. There are many possibilities that would just be fun to experiment with though admittedly results would be variable.
Originally Posted by Bipolar Joe
Try run a signal through non audio equipment (Not entirely recommended).
Connecting the RCA video input of a VCR to the RCA audio output of a recording produces a video signal but no sound. Record this then play the recorded video back through the video output and into an RCA in on a recorder. It remains rhythmically related to the original audio but produces a unique sort of "noise" signature that varies depending on what audio you originally sent into the VCR.
Next time you're performing on one of your lethal instruments Joe, make sure you video it for us!
I'm kind of obsessed with big swells and hits of white noise at the moment. You'd think that all white noise generators were created equal, but they're not. Different gens have different characters, and there's endless subtle ways of changing the character.
I'm having a blast with white noise, a tape player, and an EQ.
Last edited by SpinVector; 09-12-2014 at 10:53 PM..
Ha, there's a bunch online. I usually come away with small lacerations on my hands from sheets of metal. I played in Belfast a few months ago and found a small pedal bin inside another larger bin around the back of the venue, and threw it around a bunch, got grimy nasty garbage juice cuts. Many other noise dudes have had worse injuries live.
Also, Raytownian has been known to put contact mic's up his butt.
I thought of another, a dot matrix printer, printing "BIPOLAR JOE", recorded and cut up, made into shitty breakcore. Don't have the track any more.