Sound design often feels like a complicated skill to learn but if you just give it a try, you soon will notice that it's way more about using your creativity than knowing technical details. Here's a little introduction to the world of sound design and how easily you can start to manipulate sounds today!
Table of Contents:
1 - Reverse, Stretch & Pitch
Simple tools like reversing, stretching, pitching, formant changing, and all other methods you probably use daily can be used for sound design. A good example of nowadays super popular "radio-bass-house" is the reversed bass shots that are used to create this pumping and saturated bass feeling. Producers reverse bass shots and place them right before the bass note hits. Another example is to reverse the vocals and see if some parts work great for a vocal chop for example. Sometimes parts create a whistling sound which you could sample and create a melody from it. Those are just a couple of examples of how easy it is to find creative ways to create new sounds!
2 - Noise
Noise is an awesome tool you will find in a lot of synths. Serum is a good example. Noise is great to add in genres like Progressive House or Future Bass. Both are genres where you try to create crunchy-sounding lead or synth chord stacks to achieve that powerful sound. The noise will help to add a distorted feel. If you produce more chill or even LoFi music, noise is amazing for creating ambiance and atmosphere. A tiny crunching in the back can create a feeling of a vintage sound which is super popular in chill lofi tracks. You might see plugins like RC-20 adding those noise vintage kinda feel. You can easily recreate this with a serum noise and some effects like EQ and Reverb.
3 - Chain orders
When you just started producing you might not know that the order of the plugins in your chain mattered. The plugin order is another good way to shape sounds and create your own unique feel to them.
4 - Learn your VSTs
This might sound boring, but if we are all honest this is really the best way to understand what your synth is actually doing. You could rumble across the serum manual and it's always interesting to learn new things. For most plugins just google for the plugin name and put manual behind it. You usually find the original manual by the creators. One of the most popular VSTs for sound design is xFer Serum.
5 - Try
Don't worry if you feel confused in the beginning. It really just comes naturally when you start to really understand what different plugins actually do and how you can combine them. Someday you will organically combine different stuff because you know what they do to the sound. The best thing to do is really just practice a lot. The awesome thing about music production is you get instant feedback on how the sound changes when you add this distortion here and the delay over there. It could also help to just watch workflows from different producers in YouTube Videos or masterclasses to understand their thoughts behind creating a sound. And of course, just overall how they create their sounds.
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