Free Ableton Live Pack 176: Instruments from a Smashed Snapple Can

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There is music all around you. I don’t mean the Muzak playing at the shopping mall, or your neighbor practicing the saxophone. I’m talking about the music hiding in everyday sounds we most likely don’t even think about. The secret is to listen. In the spirit of Diego Stocco or Katie Gately, I want to encourage you to pay attention to the ordinary sounds in your day and look for opportunities to capture them and turn them into music.

A Discussion on Making Your Own Sounds at Ableton Loop

I had the pleasure of attending Ableton Loop last weekend, and to my surprise, got asked to give a short talk at the Ivar Theatre, in the makers’ lounge. In this particular area, there was an enticing sea of modular synths to experiment with. Perhaps as a reminder to myself to not drain my bank account on new gear, I decided to give a talk about finding music in the sounds that are all around you and how that will help you create your own unique sound.

You can hear the talk here.

 My Ableton Loop presentation. Photo from Synthtopia. Read their  fantastic write-up on Loop here .

My Ableton Loop presentation. Photo from Synthtopia. Read their fantastic write-up on Loop here.

I want to give you some of the instruments I used as examples during my talk. These are the Smashed Snapple Can instruments. I created these while monitoring the In-School Suspension room at the high school where I work. A bored and belligerent student was amusing himself by causing a disruption. He was blowing into a crushed Snapple to make some kind of dying animal sound. Here is the sample:

Unaware of who was supervising the room, the student was a bit surprised when I asked him to do it again so I could record it. After recording it, I processed the sound in Ableton Live and made the three instruments I am sharing with you today.

Another Life-Lesson from Music…

There’s an interesting lesson here. Sometimes, when we go with the flow and work with what is presented to us, we can find new inspiration and that can lead to great results. On one hand, I could have been a recording-snob and not recorded the sound because my laptop computer isn’t up to par with a proper professional mobile recording rig. But I recorded it with my laptop anyway and the resulting instruments are pretty cool. Also, rather than fighting the suspended student’s angst, I used it to make music. What could have been a confrontational experience wound up being a moment of musical collaboration with a young, non-musician, who never even knew this type of thing was a possibility. Win, Win! Here is the short piece of music we made together. Notice how such an abrasive sound can actually make soothing music.

Hear the Full Talk from Ableton Loop…

I recorded my Ableton Loop presentation about finding your own sound, and I put it on the Music Production Podcast. Here’s a link to the Music Production Podcast page with show notes. You can also listen on iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. Or listen to the video below…