Be more creative: record the stairs.
Be more creative. My single new year resolution. In this day and age it's so easy to rely on instrument samples to get a good sound that we often forget to listen to what's around us. The possibilities are endless, and while I don't have the time to spend my days recording everything around me I recently found an unusual opportunity.
At home, we have been waiting to carpet the stairs (it's a long story, ask me about it sometime). One day it struck me that the wooden stairs make a pretty nice sound, and I wondered that if I recorded them in a variety of ways, maybe I could produce some samples to use in my music.
What I used:
Next, I experimented with different ways of 'playing' the stairs, keeping in mind I wanted to basically replicate a drum kit. I found that thumping the corner stair created a deep, boomy bang that could be used as a bass drum, a regular drum stick could provide a rim shot (usually when you hit the metal edge of a snare drum with a drum stick), and the hi-hat and tom-tom work could be replicated using the brushes. I concentrated on the top two steps for their vicinity to the microphone.
Now, I have a particular piece of music that I wanted these samples for, so I set the click up on the DAW for that tempo. If I'd had more time I would have used the brushes to create more tempos, but certainly the bass hits and the rim shots can be used in any tempo at a basic level. I'll tweak more and work with the EQs and reverbs to get it sounding the way I want, but here's a basic beat:
Finally I started recording some upright piano and double bass as part of the song I'm writing. I think the stairs will sit in the mix really well. Simplicity is key here, so I'm looking forward to getting the song finished and recorded in order to put my producer hat on to decide what the song requires and how to record the rest of it. So here's a little taster I threw together (again, I'll take more time but this gives you an idea):
So, January is turning out to be pretty creative. If you are writing or composing, don't forget the sounds around you. They can be inspiring and motivating, and to use the sound around us in music is the most natural thing in the world and can give your music a truly unique feel. Good luck, and let me know how you get on!
The day has finally arrived. After months of secretly beavering away in the music cave, I can now share the news that I'm composing all the incidental music for a brand new animated series called 'Scream Street', now airing on CBBC.
It's a frighteningly funny gross out comedy, with the theme tune and some songs credited to the talented Joseph Rowe, a stellar voice cast and, most importantly for us behind-the-scenes people, a super friendly, uber talented production team. I'm so pleased to be a part of it and excited to hear what you all think!
So for those of you who don't know, me and the good lady wife have upped and moved from Kingston to Shepperton after buying our house. That means a new studio space that I can actually treat, which is a novelty after living in a rented property for four years.
It's now painted ('cosy grey', goes nicely with the sofa), and the acoustic treatment has arrived. It's a small room so soundproofing is impossible, but I'm hoping the acoustic treatment will stop the sound travelling too far. All I need now is the velcro tape to put it up, and to sort out fitting a carpet.
I tend not to worry too much about the minutiae of acoustics science. As long as I have a room that is fairly sensibly set up, I won't obsess about how the sound is coming out of the speakers (I will know very quickly if it sounds wrong). Sure, if I had the cash, I'd build a sound-proof brick studio at the end of the garden, but for now that's not possible. Instead, I'll let common sense prevail and restrict speaker use to the day time to avoid complaints! And right now it's all about the music, so I can't wait to get stuck into another episode of the TV project I'm working on next week.
Have yourselves a very Happy Friday.
Feedback's Always Nice!
Had a very nice email this morning thanking me for making 'Sleep'. What a nice surprise! 'Sleep' was made in three days in early 2012 and for me was the pointer/marker for 'DownTime', which I made straight afterwards.
It reminded me how diverse I can be as a composer, and that for me is what keeps it interesting. The next project to come to fruition will be the Band of One debut album, due out in May. In the meantime, here's 'Sleep' from The Sound Boutique's back catalogue.
'Sleep' by The Sound Boutique
In The Dark
Fire up the Quattro!
With various projects on the go at the same time, it's sometimes difficult to fit in the important stuff of simply composing and being creative. Today is a composing day - I'm developing a musical idea which uses piano, cello and some electronica. Will hopefully post this week if I can get it finished.
Posts by Gareth Davies.