accidental mimicry

People who don’t know much about electronic music, or people who are very good and very patient at sound design, might assume that most of the sounds I come up with are intentional.

It’s more like, I experiment with sounds, hear something that becomes the inspiration for the song, and everything else follows. The more parts I add after that, the more I find a need for specific sounds: a sub drone, a whooshy noise, a melodic counterpoint made from simple beeps, or even occasionally a sample. But there’s often still usually some seat-of-the-pants element to the assembly.

If I’m in that later stage and need a Rings-like sound, I usually reach for Rings. The path of least resistance, you know?

Yet this keeps happening: I put together a voice, and it occurs to me afterward that it sounds like Rings, even though it isn’t — and in the same song, I have used Rings for something else that doesn’t sound like Rings.

On “Rat Facts,” which I just recorded today, there’s a lovely Rings-esque “guitar” sound which is Hertz Donut mk3 through Natural Gate and Prism. There’s also a big deep sub bass, which is Rings.

On “Soliton,” also from the new album, there’s a drum-like voice, more djembe than “bongo” (*), which sounds a lot like drums I’ve made with Rings. But it’s raw pulses from Teletype through Rainmaker. A different voice, sort of filtered crackly noise that blends in with other things, is Kermit through Rings FMd by DPO.

From Internal Reflections, “Who is This?” had non-Rings “guitar strumming”, which was E370 through Natural Gate into Rainmaker. But I used Rings for a “broken reverb” effect on an E370/QPAS voice.

(*) a common sound/trope in modular synthesis is “Buchla Bongos.” It involves pinging a lowpass gate with a trigger while some inharmonic FM stuff goes through it. It’s kind of part of the trend of calling every hand drum (and some that aren’t) a “bongo.”

Djembe are not bongos.
Congas are not bongos.
Tablas are not bongos.
Doumbeks are not bongos.
Taiko are definitely not bongos.

Don’t do that. Pet peeve.

(Finding Star Wars gifs for this entry was also not something I originally designed. I just happened to want a “that’s not how this works” and when I saw what came up, I knew exactly what the rest of the entry needed. And that is how the Force works.)