Working with sound is, for many of us, the experience that attracted us to working with computers. Field recordings can be the best way to get close to sound – you’re attached to sounds you’ve found in the real world, you’ve experienced and collected, even if you transform them into something very different in production.

Nick Maxwell of the excellent Nick’s Tutorials Ableton Live production site shares some free explorations with us, complete with downloads you can reverse-engineer the instruments and play with the topics the video cover. You can also use these in your own work, royalty-free.

I really like some of the work here, from a kitchen knife to a found sound bass. Here’s Nick:

“Icy Shimmer” Effect

In this video, I use a few field recordings of a kitchen knife being unsheathed as well as a door closing as the layers for the eventual sound effect.  Basic things like reversing the waveforms, filtering , panning, and retuning are employed.  I also go beyond that into some more interesting stuff like using a grain delay, simple delay, and an autofilter to create a little effects section to further realize the sound.


Two Drums Created From Samples

In this video I use field recordings to create a kick drum as well as a snappy percussion sound. Some of the techniques include pitch and filter enveloping, working with non-zero crossings to create an interesting attack for your drum, layering samples, and more.


Jungle-Bass” (2 Parts)

In this video I use field recordings to create a bass patch that might be used in a Jungle or Drum’n’Bass production. I go over some basic intermodulation between LFO’s, describe the Saturator effect’s controls, use the morph parameter to create an interesting filter curve, and more. Additionally, I show two effects that were released with Live 8: The Limiter and the Frequency Shifter.