Taking sound design inspiration from the sounds of nature
Today we’re looking at taking sound design inspiration from outside the DAW, alongside some techniques to create some unique sounds.
One of the things I like to do when I’m feeling uninspired is draw new inspiration from somewhere completely out of the frame of the DAW. A great place to draw inspiration from is nature, the chaotic randomness of sound in nature helps to break the regimented monotony that some of us face inside a DAW or other equipment. Often when I use natural sound sources as a reference, I find myself trying new techniques that I may not have thought of in an attempt to recreate that sound.
Bird calls are an almost infinite source of inspiration as every species and subspecies has their own unique call. Some individual birds even have their own unique melodies and calls, so you can never run out of references.
There are various ways of drawing musical inspiration from these types of sound sources, you could either recreate a rhythm or weird modulation effect by applying an LFO to either the pitch or amplitude, and then using either an envelope or another LFO to modulate various parameters within the first LFO.
Let’s look at a slightly more “musical” bird call…
A very common style of bird call is the almost nonsensical “babbling” melody, a great way to achieve this type of sound is by using an LFO on the pitch again, however this time using a stepped random modulation to control the amount of LFO that gets applied to the pitch and another stepped random modulation to control the speed of the LFO.
With these types of sounds it helps to get creative with the amplitude envelopes. Use curves, they help to bolster the organic effect, and definitely use reverb – LOTS of it.
For an in-depth walkthrough on how I create these for my sound design, check out the video: