I often find musical phrases when I’m manipulating sound effects & I came across one yesterday that I just had to share as it is so beautiful & yet the source is so unlikely.
First the backstory: a few years ago I heard of a plant shop having a closing down sale so I went & had a look & ended up buying a small tree. This tree was about 12 foot tall & it survived for a while but eventually died & all that was left were these long spindly branches, which I kind of still liked so I left it where it was…. Just before Christmas I was clearing out my old studio space prior to moving & discarding any & everything that was non-essential & I decided the tree had to go. I had been collecting up a pile of wood to break & record FX of, so I added it to the pile & carried on working.
A few days later I got inspired & started recording wood breaks – the room I was recording in was a smallish studio space with a glass ranch slider door & as the tree was way to tall to fit in through the glass slider door I accidentally scraped one of the branches across the glass as i was dragging it into the room. Hmmm: STOP RIGHT THERE! It produced a nasty shrill screech which I just knew I would find a use for sooner or later (ie tag the metadata with: use in the next horror film!)
Anyway I recorded many various scrapes & I discovered some of the most nasty ones were when I applied gentle pressure to the branch so it almost stuck & wouldnt scrape, but then pressure gently overcame the friction & a nasty screech ensues… So I recorded maybe 15 minutes of them, basically until I got tired of it & felt I had exhausted the tree branch & my own repertoire….
Yesterday I suddenly remembered these recordings (I originally just loaded the recordings & dumped them into my sound library) so I started wading through auditioning bits. I was in the process of making some spooky kind of stings & I wanted a high shrill element so I started trying the branch glass scrapes as a component – first at real speed, then at half speed, then putting each of those through various impulse responses. And thats when I found a little bit of music that is so hauntingly beautiful it stopped me in my tracks! So I exported the progression of sounds for you to have a listen to;
First an example of some of the glass scrapes (watch your ears/monitoring level – they are shrill!)
Ok so next, here is the little phrase or fragment of sound I pursued, at real speed:
Here is the same sound at half speed (can you hear the musicality in it yet?)
And here is the half speed branch-glass scrape through an impulse response:
Beautiful huh? Its almost symphonic.. but what is weird is how the first 3 ‘notes’ of that glass scrape obviously belong to a musical scale. The impulse response is adding a lot of tone to the sound, but the melody is there in the initial recording…