Hits from the woods
100+ organic and punchy kicks, snares, hi hats, percussion, fx
Carefully crafted out of recordings from Scotland's forests
When I think about the things I love in a snare sound, three things come to my mind; The mass (bottom end of a snare), colour and body of a snare, and the attack. That helped me with the idea of what kind of sounds I needed to record in order to be able to design, layer and craft the recordings into a snare sound I like.
For bottom end of a snare I needed to record a strong hit of a thick wooden stick against a massive chunk of wood. I knew this would give me a solid transient sound, rich in 200Hz frequency area. To me, colour of a snare means harmonic overtones in the midrange frequency spectrum that give me the impression that this is actually a snare. In terms of sound design I also see it as a midrange frequency distortion that gives a snare sound some kind of a ‘colour’. I imagine body of a snare as its length, where it rings in its tone. I have always liked snares with offset layers like for example the one in Nas - Doo rags, so I wanted to capture a few slightly offset crackles, rapid sets of short noises that I could layer around the main snare sound to thicken it up. I grabbed few tiny little sticks and crushed them in my hand in front of a microphone. Or I just stepped on few bigger wooden sticks and record the sound of my foot cracking them apart. I want my snares to be tuned to sound nicer and more focused, so I looked for sounds with a ‘musical’ tone. I captured some by hitting a stump with a thick wooden stick just at the right spot where I it rang. To capture material for adding high end to snares, I recorded some white-noise-sounding sounds, like dragging leaves on the floor or messing with branches of bushes.
As for kicks, things were a bit more challenging. I needed to record a source containing lots of low end frequencies. After some thinking I thought I’d record two stumps gently striking against each other at a high input gain and close proximity - and use proximity effect for capturing low frequencies. It worked out well and I love the way the kicks sound. It wasn’t so difficult to craft them in postproduction either. I tuned and expose the low end, used distortion and harmonics generator based on a kick’s fundamental frequency to colour the midrange, and compressed it to bring out the attack.
I think going towards something like hi hat and cymbal sound was the most challenging thing here. Obviously, I mean the goal was to produce a metal sound, but all I had was a lot of wood. For this, I recorded sounds of breaking miniature twigs for closed hats, and gently touching bush branches full of leaves with a stick for open hats. A lot needed to be done in sound designing stage to make it sound as close to a hi hat sound as possible. In general I used distortion to bring out the highs, and emphasise the attack with Transient designer. When designing an open hat sound I began with the same principle to get to the first part of the sound and then distorted a gated reverb to extend it and make it sound like an open hat.