Found Music #1

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!)

download glass scrape 01 mp3

Ok so next, here is the little phrase or fragment of sound I pursued, at real speed:

download glass scrape 02 mp3

Here is the same sound at half speed (can you hear the musicality in it yet?)

download glass scrape 03 half speed mp3

And here is the half speed branch-glass scrape through an impulse response:

download glass scrape 04 half speed IR’d mp3

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…

3 thoughts on “Found Music #1

  1. Sébastien Orban

    Scrape – the new wind instrument ?

    It’s nearly a human scream too.
    The latest album of Amon Tobin is created more or less this way, and Mira Calix love to do this too (lot of others have done this, but they’re the last one I’ve listen to)

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