The Boss SY-1

I just picked up a Boss SY-1 synth pedal (it was more of a trade – some web programming for reverb.com love). Here’s my first attempt at using it:

Sound as a Muse

I’ve been processing sound files to create a foundation for animation. I’m building on last year’s work around incongruent foley and non-diagetic sound. I’m starting with sound, and then seeing what animation shows up for me based on what I’m hearing.

This post is about some of the devices I’m using to accomplish this. I find inspiration in them, and maybe you will, too.

Years ago, I accumulated and compiled a lot of “found sounds” with a portable mini-disc set up. I used to carry one around, along with a pair of Shure SM-58 microphones, and record stuff. This is before iPhones. The sound on the Mini-Disc is really great, but it’s impossible for me to get the source files off of the proprietary hardware, other than through the headphone jacks. That’s pretty shitballs, but, whatever. I’ve never been much more than a lofi fellow, anyway.

Mini-disc players

In addition to the many hours of weird stuff from the mini-discs, I dug up some old cassette players.

Now, Lookit this beaut! It has four stereo outputs, which means I can use it to send a signal to four different processors/amps/whatever. I call it the Bell & Howler.

Bell & Howell tape deck

Additionally, I’ve enjoyed using Red Panda’s Particle to add a little English to the tapes. You can hear this in the video below.

Emerson Walkman and Red Panda Particle pedal

I’m also a big fan of Red Panda’s Tensor, which is like a tape loop machine with a hyperdrive.

Mini-tape deck

My buddy Jack Livingston was in Colorado in the late 1970’s, and he attended a series of workshops hosted by Beatnik poet, Allen Ginsberg. We share a love for Beat culture and writing, and Jack loaned me some recordings from those sessions. I’m going to use some of this in an upcoming, literary inspired animation.

Allen Ginsberg Tapes

Thrift stores are FULL of odd old tapes, there’s no shortage of material to be found on them. These are great for making short loops.

Disassembled tape cassette
Short tape loop

Finally, I use my iPhone to capture stuff all the time. Using handful of devices in this article, there are endless possibilities for making compelling audio tracks and foley.

I’ll explore how the sounds themselves can inform the visuals for animation in an upcoming post.

The Septic Bank

The Septic Bank

Back in the 90’s, I bought some cheap pick-ups at Ted’s music in Baltimore, and I installed them in some galvanized buckets and trashcans. This became my electric drum set – the bucket drum set.

Bucket Drum set

I was very pleased with this approach.

I made a few recordings with these, and even played out with mh pal, Diana Froley, at the Theater Project, and a small club near the stadium. The name of the club eludes me as I type this.

I would mic them, and also run them through some guitar pedals into a mixer/PA.

I decided to release some of the tracks on Bandcamp.

http://doorjam.bandcamp.com/album/the-septic-bank

Contact Mics for Foley

My daughter and I made some contact mics, and spent an evening recording sounds in the basement of my studio. I ordered the piezo discs from amazon, and then spliced them to 1/4″ guitar cables.

We took turns recording various objects. I’ve developed a library of interesting sounds from these activities, that I can use as foley and sound effects in my animation.

It was a great deal of fun.

A Ship in a Storm

Leezle and her cello, Linda.

I had the distinct privilege to help Lily record the above cello piece that she composed. It’s written for three cellos, and she read her transcription and played the parts quickly and efficiently.

We recorded this at the Dead Chicken Ranch in Baltimore. Lily composed and performed the music, and I engineered the recording for her.