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Creating new sounds using Sound Grain



I’m a big fan of creating new and original sounds and rarely use pre-set soft synths or traditional musical instruments in my music.  New sounds excite me but sometimes it can be a challenge to find and create original sounds. Sound Grain is a free graphical interface that allows you to manipulate sounds in a number of ways and I have found it to be really effective at creating new sounds, as well as being very easy to use.


Sound Grain is free and available here http://code.google.com/p/soundgrain/ but the developer does ask for donations, which is pretty fair enough seeing as it is a very good little program.


For the basis of this post I have used and manipulated a bass drum sound which can be found in the link to my Soundcloud page below.


Drums in SoundGrain (Right click on link to open in new tab or window)


Sound Grain


1. Open a sound file you would like to manipulate


2.  The one below is a straight forward bass drum (number 1 of the set in this link Drums in SoundGrain)




3. To hear the sample you will need to create trajectories.  The simplest way to do this is create one as a straight line, but you do have the option to create a circle, oscillator or just freestyle.  You can choose to sample the whole of your sound source or just part.  In the example above I just used the first part of the sample.  The sample is in stereo. I took the higher frequency part of the drum (top wave form) drew a short straight lined trajectory and duplicated this for the lower frequency part of the drum (bottom wave form).





To hear what you have, just press ‘Start’ under Sample Rate/Channels.


4. You then have a variety of options to play with.



Under the drawing tab you can change the low pass cut off/filters, but this has no effect on my bass drum.  Also, because I have just used line trajectories the oscillating options are disenabled.


5. Playback.


Right click on the link to hear them played separately Drums in SoundGrain


6. Effects

This is the really fun bit and is so easy to use!



At the start of each of the waveforms there is a pink coloured ball.  This is an FXball.  To add an FXball just click on the FXball tab at top of the window and select the type of effect you would like to use.  You can add as many as you like.  In this sound file I have added reverb.  The ball on the bottom waveform is bigger; meaning more of the effect is applied.

To open the ‘reverb controls’ or controls in any of the other effects you will need to right click on the fxball. Here you can play around with feedback, amplitude etc.



7.  Recording



To record you first have to press play (‘start’ button under ‘project settings’).  This is annoying because you will always get a clip at the beginning and you have to wait for the little red dot to get back to the beginning of the trajectory (or ideally just before) before you can press ‘start’ under ‘record settings’ to record it.



To name your recording just type in the box next to ‘start’ in ‘record settings’.  Sound Grain


automatically drops the file on to your desktop.  There are no options to save elsewhere.



Real time recording is great as you can change the size of the fxballs and add new effects


and trajectories as you record. If you have lots of trajectories and add and change one by


one you can even create your own little Sonic Art piece if you wish!



To hear the final new version of the bass drum (which no longer sounds like a bass drum but something much different) click here Drums in SoundGrain.  This is just the starting point – now you can put the sample in Logic and play around even more.

Click on the link below for a selection of Sound Grain generated samples, free to download.  Enjoy!


Sound Grain generated sample pack


Have fun!

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