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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Aug-18 > SOUND DESINGTHE CREATIVE GUIDE


Being creative with sound design will benefit whatever you produce music for, from the pop charts to a Hollywood film, from creating your own sonic personality to producing the start-up sound effect for an iPad app. This is the ultimate guide to creative sound design with whatever tools you own: hardware, software, mobile, found sounds and more…

The term ‘sound design’ used to refer specifically to the task of producing music and sound effects for pictures, yet, while that definition still stands, with such an explosion of other media, it now covers everything from producing ringtones to game music, from synth presets to sample patches. Even if you do none of the above, and just produce music for fun, being creative in sound design can help you shape your own character, a sound you can be identified by. It can also help you move away from using presets which, while we endorse their use as that’s what they were created for, it’s always more satisfying to come up with something with your own stamp on it.

Fortunately you probably have many of the tools you need for creative sound design at your disposal already. Over the last few years we have also witnessed the release of hardware and software that, while perhaps not focussed directly at the sound designer, can be used to explore sonic areas never before thought possible or financially available. There’s hardware, software and apps out now that make creating your own sonic brand as easy as one, two, tweak.

There are also some very good tools, specifically created for sound designers, that can be used to manipulate and twist sounds beyond belief.

This feature will look at all of the options above. We’ll look at some of the areas that sound design is employed within, the tools you have at your disposal to cover some sound design basics and we’ll feature some top five buyers guides for all manner of sound design categories. Along the way we’ll have specific guides on certain pieces of software that we’ve been impressed by to show you how they can manipulate sound, and we’ll also cover found sound, that is field recording – one of the most natural ways of capturing a sonic signature for yourself. We’ll touch on sound for movies, TV and games, although foley use and dialogue recording is a feature in itself (there are some great packages out there that we’ll cover for soundtrack and sound effect composers). Instead we’re focussing on more creative sound design (or sounds that don’t exist in the real world) and sound design for music producers – the majority of our readers.

So strap yourself in and prepare yourself for a sonic adventure. No matter what you create sound for, hopefully by reading this, you will start creating it in a much more adventurous way…

Tom Holkenborg (AKA Junkie XL) is a sound designer in the true sense in that he provides effects and music for film. However, the whole sound design definition has exploded in recent years thanks to music and sound being needed for so many different types of media


Type ‘what is sound design?’ into Google and you’ll come up with all sorts of definitions. That’s because the use of sound has exploded into so many different areas of our lives, largely down to advances in technology. Boot up a computer and you’ll get a comforting chime (created with sound design); tweak a filter knob on your favourite synth (and you have designed a sound); download a sample from Loopmasters (created by a sound designer); watch an ad on YouTube and listen to a careful designed soundtrack. Any piece of media that has had any care given to what the intended audience will hear has used some form of sound design. It could be a theatre production, a video game, an error sound because you pressed the wrong computer key. Perhaps we should simply let one of the kings of sound design explain it. We interviewed Richard Devine a few years back and his projects pretty much covered all sound design areas. ”I’ve done lots of sound content for iOS companies like InMusic, including the iMPC app for AKAI, where I created all the sounds, programs and sequences,“ he says

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About MusicTech

In response to the ever-growing world of sound design, we highlight many of the best tools of the trade to equip you to experiment yourself, step-by-step guides to various processes, plus interviews with those whose careers have been built in the world of professional sound design. Elsewhere, we speak to former Stereophonics drummer Javier Weyler, whose company Breaking Waves facilitate the sonic needs of filmmakers in innovative, creative ways. We also talk to mix engineer Giles Barrett about his boat-based studio and head inside Nottingham's newly-opened Mount Street Studios. Along with our usual range of in-depth reviews we see our tutorial section expand once more as we welcome a brand new Reason series. We hope you enjoy the issue!