Experiment: Turning random street player into a drone

I do enjoy making drone sounds out of weird sources. There is something special about using a source that generally wouldn`t be used for something strange as a drone. Latter of course isn`t a rule. The result in this case is quite pleasing and I have to admit that I am quite happy with it.

The process for creating such drone couldn`t be simpler and I am sure that anyone who reads this can come up with a better way of making it. Thing is though. I am writing this to remind myself, especialy since I tend to forget certain ideas (good or bad) and it is good to have reminders on or offline.

What is the point of this experiment?

Experimentation, experimentation, experimentation. The whole reason this sample was made is because I was out recording the general ambience of our capital city (Ljubljana – thats in Slovenia of course) and I stumbled upon this kid playing harmonica. He was an ok player I guess, though I didn`t pay much attention to the song he was playing. I just wanted to make a nice recording of it. But there was a small hickup which made the whole take sort of useless for me.

Lesson learned – Watch where you stand while recording.
One thing is, you don`t want people bumping into you while recording. I didn`t encouter many bumps, just a few to be honest but on the other hand I did get many stares which if you pay attention to it can be quite freaky. Luckily I didn`t pay much attention to that either. The importance of where you stand is equal to the importance of how you listen. In my euphoria of pressing record “on” and “off” I have totally misjudged or neglected the music playing behind me aswell as the caffe. That of course resulted in a bad take at least that is how I see it. The background noise could have been avoided or minimalized if I took different approach and just moved a meter or two closer to the player (which I did after the enlightenment).

Another approach would be to ask the cafe to turn off the music but I didn`t feel like being chased down the street.

Using sound as a source for drone

Enough of jibba jibba, lets get to the point. I took a small sample from the original recording and first thing I usually do is to pitch shift and stretch the sample to see what kind of sound it produces. Much to my surprise, I realised that I forgot to set my sample rate to desired settings of 96 Khz. So here is another lesson learned. Check the damn sample rate. I keep reminding myself that. If you remove the batteries from the recorder it will reset its sample rate.

Anyway, I did stretch the sample and I quite liked the stretched sound and I though “Well, this might be a good drone” but it is missing something. So I used the what is becoming my favorite tool Guitar rig (Native Instruments). It is not the best tool in the world but I find it a bit under rated or people just don`t mention it that much and I look like a complete tool when I get over excited about mentioning it. Either way, I use it a lot in my projects.

In this experiment I used a delay (Delay man), formant filter (Tractor formant filter) and two reverbs (Tractor reverb and a convolution reverb Reflector). I also used an LFO (low frequency modulation) and assigned it to the formant filter. That gave me a small “controled” movement. The fluttery effect that you hear is due to the Delay man and its preset “metalverb” or something similar. Reverb was used to soften the sound and to slightly expand it. Reaper EQ was used to remove some unwanted frequencies. That`s it really.

The process is quite simple, like I have said, and you might even have a better technique of making the drone sounds, but this one is mine.

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