Digital synthesizer sounds vs. Analog sounds

For the zen game we had started out with appropriately licensed materials including synthesized sound effects. As we built the game and it evolved, we ended up creating more of our own content. At some point we decided that one of the found sounds we had been using (the “click” to indicate a stone had been selected) might be too mechanical and harsh. We also decided to try creating our own water droplet sounds, to replace the probably perfectly acceptable synthesized ones we had found.

The obvious next step was to read the instruction manuals for the nifty synthesizers that sit around here waiting for me to synthesize some sounds. Even better would have been to ask Steven to make the sounds, since he obviously already knows how to use his music gear. But, cleverly, I instead went outside and found some pebbles, and then located a number of containers made of various things: plastic, stoneware, wood, etc. I just knew I could make a groovy zen click with all that stuff. For the water drops I hastily assembled a virtual cave from a shipping container and then set up an authentic rain-simulator consisting of a ladder, a giant bucket, zen-flavored water, a medicine dropper, and (most importantly, believe it or not) a sieve. I have written a nice blues-guitar song about the sieve, by the way.

From that point it was only a matter of tedious placement of microphones, notifying the local international airport to please be quiet, managing nests of cable interfaces, primate-style editing of the sounds to make them sound more digital, and random guesswork… et voila! we had semi-organic analog-based sounds to play with. I think I may also have accidentally created some kind of unpleasant robot, but that’s another story.

Author image
Storyteller of Salty Yarns! He works on idea development, prototyping and weird and wonderful words and sounds.