found sound

today i went down to the garden of my friend j’s flat and we basked in the sun, each with a cold beer.

j’s garden is regularly tidied, and she had collected a few bags
of what we shall call “organic matter” ready for the bin. i noticed
these produced a satisfying thud when dropped accidentally on the
decking, and immediately felt the need to reach for my field recorder.

i haven’t done much with found sound in my music, mainly because i produce electro pop rather than ambient material – but “they” do say that found sound can be a nice wee touch to your tracks.

my field recorder is just an old MD walkman with a stereo condenser mic i picked up on impulse in NYC some years back. it’s not as handy as the new models from the likes of zoom, but i was sure it would suffice for this job.

so i got j to drop different bags onto the decking and the gravel in the garden, and recorded the results. i chopped these up into sound files.

dropping the bags on gravel gave an excellent source for a crunchy snare drum, and dropping a somewhat denser package on the deck lent itself to a kick drum. the recording also picked up some breathy childish sniggering which i thought could pass as a 909 hat.

finally, i recovered some movement on gravel which i thought might produce a nice sound effect.

i chopped up the sounds and did a bit of EQ and envelope shaping in sound forge, and then loaded them up into a sampler in my DAW. i squirted the gravel footsteps into os’s xfadelooper and used cyclone to trigger the percussion sounds. after a bit of mucking around, this is the RESULT

it’s amazing what you can do with a bag of dog poo.

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