UI Noise Montage

Source as limitation

The Metasynth image filter tab is an incredible processing resource, to which noise sources are perfectly suited. The video above starts with some noise processing using said technique and then explores various iterations using other DSP. It’s a montage of my entry for an Audio Spotlight sound design contest in which you were restricted to using only white noise for the entire soundtrack. You can see the final cut later in this post.

When it’s easier and cheaper than ever to harvest personal mega libraries of exotic sound, I think it’s sometimes worth investigating what’s possible by using very little. If your source audio is a single component, exploring methods of processing is the only option. I think this is useful for a handful of reasons.

Firstly I think it’s good method for practicing standard processing tools. If you can’t simply pull out a more suitable sound, going to town on granulation, spectral processing, filters, compression, pitching, saturation and transient editing can often yield interesting results based on audio that isn’t usable in an obvious way.

It can encourage you to think of creative solutions for non obvious sound elements. If you have a short percussive sound, how can you pull a sustained tone or drone out of it? Or, if you have a long medium pitched sustained sound, how can it be transformed into a low frequency impact? Of course there are always multiple options. But I think source limitation can force us to think about the potential of our tools and the artifacts that they create.

A sense of coherency can develop when creating layered composites. Filtering and harmonisation is an obvious example, but I sometimes find even with extreme audio transformations, you can feel a sense of heredity within the texture when you slice and stack up various versions.

Finally, I think it’s both a fun and interesting challenge that is quite suited to a recursive style of processing. A perfectly extreme and quite beautiful example of this approach, is the 2002 composition “Imago” by Trevor Wishart. In the piece his source audio consists of nothing but a single short recording of wine glass being tapped. The piece is a mammoth 26 minutes long journey of signal processing hedonism which he expertly crafts with swarms of granulated textures, percussive clangs and spatial processing. To create the piece Wishart used his own DSP application Sound Loom, a suite that he offers as freeware based on the CDP framework.