1. Separate the Process
Try to separate the sound design process from day to day writing and arrangement duties. This will allow more room for creativity without having to worry too much about the end application. You will be able to spend more time getting very technical with lesser explored elements of your sampler or synthesizer to create unique audio. Attempting this while in the middle of an arrangement will stifle creativity. Render out your sounds at a nice level and label the audio well, with key and tempo information or whatever else you feel is relevant.
2. Master the Glitch
Glitch plugins can be insanely powerful and capable of some incredible sounds, though as the old adage goes, ‘power is nothing without control’. Take your time to learn the extended feature set presented with these plugins to help achieve more measured results. Some of our favorites in this category include Izotope’s Stutter Edit, Twisted Tools Ultraloop, Illformed Glitch 2 and Ableton’s Beat Repeat.
3. Randomization is your friend
Slightly contradictory to our previous tip, but making use of your sampler or synthesizers randomization settings can help achieve some highly usable results, and may be an attractive option when inspiration is lacking during the sound deign process. Native Instruments’ Massive has some quite extended (although often ignored) options when it comes to randomization. For starters, you can use the trigger random (TrR) to modulate any parameter on the synth, to modulate by random values. Furthermore, in the Global section, you have the option to randomize oscillator settings, filters, FX and more.
4. Sample Loop Tones
An effective method for creating melodic results from any sample. Load an audio sample into your sampler, could be anything from a vocal shot to a kick drum. Set a sample loop over a tiny section of the sample and play it back chromatically on your keyboard. The shorter the sample loop the more high pitched the playback. You can take this technique a step further by automating the length of the sample loop, great for creating FX uplifters and downlifters.
5. Extreme Stretch
While audio tools such as Ableton’s Warp or Logic’s Flex allow for quick and intuitive tempo-matching when working with loop-based audio, they can also be abused for creating all manner of otherworldly and experimental sounds. For example, take a snare sample with plenty of decay and reverse it and then apply some extreme editing (avoid using the Beats/Slicing mode), stretched to extremes will create a unique riser effect. Experiment with the different settings offered by your audio manipulation tool, as these will all create different textures and timbres.