Digging in Kyma.

This is the very first post of my blog and as an introduction, I’d like to share the sound of my demo reel that you can watch at http://www.jedsound.com/. Type”kyma” for the password.

Everything started when I received a software called Kyma from Symbolic Sound. As I was reading Kyma X Revealed! by Carla Scaletti, I discovered many different ways to manipulate and process a sound that I never heard before. It took me over 6 months to dig into every aspect of the “prototypes” (the leaves of the big tree). Then I could build more complex patches (the branches of the tree) depending on my needs and write little scripts in kyma language to control my sounds algorithmically. For example, a sound can be just a parameter of another sound parameter that controls one parameter of a totally different sound. This was a very good learning experience that opened my mind on what a sound actually is:  Frequencies and amplitudes are nothing else than a sequence of digits that can be modified mathematically.

  • A mix of my favourite ones:


So, I downloaded a few trailers I found interesting in terms of visual texture and dynamic, converted them into quicktime DV, brought them up in a ProTools session and started to record while performing my sounds in real time on picture.

I really wanted to go further and use some fresh sounds instead of picking up from my libraries. I was so influenced by all those talented and dedicated sound designers, such as Chuck Russom, Nathan Moody, Tim Prebble, Michael Raphael, David Steinwedel etc. sharing their sound effects on the web, that I decided to go in the field too…

I got a lot of fresh sound materials recorded at 96kHz/24b that received metadata within soundminer. This includes spring coils and slinkies, electromagnetic fields recorded with guitar pickups, neonodium magnets, motors, servos, gadgets and gizmos, metal impacts and underwater metal impacts, wobble boards, car doors, washing machines, sewing machines, dumpsters, bungee cords, elastics, slingshots, balloons, wine glasses, chairs, winds dragging bags on carpets etc. that I will talk about later in other articles on this blog.

From all that stuff, I built around 10GB of processed elements in Kyma, Metasynth, Michael Norris Suite, IRCAM’s AudioSculpt and ProTools with Waves, Sound Toys, GRM Tools and Altiverb. Obviously, only a little percentage of that was used, because some of it was intended for some other projects.

For this article though, I’ll stay focused on the sounds processed in Kyma… (read more!)

  • Frozen camera.Canon EOS ELAN 7E 35mm

Check out the “Transformers ®” sequence during the Autobot Jazz transformation. I was going through my libraries listening to ratchets when I came down on an click of an old 35mm camera. I decided to record a recent Canon model click and tweak it in a sample freezer that I have previously built in Kyma. I record in real time a long performance that I cut on picture afterwards.


This patch allows to adjust the IN and OUT of a sample loop while I’m changing the rate. Kyma records the loop segment at each BPM (adjustable) in the RAM and as the IN and OUT move constantly,  I can dial on any part of the sample and make the sound vocalizing.

  • Running an engine through a Vocoder.Vocoder

The vocoder has been used for decades and decades and is well known for making synthetic robot voices. I found interesting with Kyma how the vocoder could be clear and bright when you turn a lot of band-pass filters on. If you slide the frequency content of your source, it turns your engine into a turbine and I thought that was working really good for the motorbikes in the the Tron Legacy sequence.

  • Evil echos and delays.

Echos and Delays are really fun to play with. Try to delay a sound under 30 ms and add a bit of feedback to it. Imagine now that you can control that delay in real time and change it from 5 ms to 30 ms, you’ll get a pitch-shifting effect. In order to get variations, multiply an amplitude envelope or a LFO to your feedback to make your sound interesting.

  • Building your own blocks.

It happens that I like a plugin, but I feel there’s not enough controls to it or that I’d like to add something else. If you understand the logic of your plugin, you have a chance to reproduce it in Kyma. Here’s an example of a tool that I use a lot in real time… It contains a LFO with a modifiable waveform, a formant shifter, a flanger and a pitch-shifter with a pitch analyzer for better detection (because pitch-shift doesn’t work on noise). Everything runs in series but each block has his own bypass toggle. The input can receive any sound that I’d play back from Soundminer. It goes right away in Kyma and returns on a record track within Pro Tools. Very convenient!

From Left to right: Pitch detector / LFO / Formant Shifter / Flanger / Pitch Shifter.

Virtual Control Surface (Interface)

    • pepe
    • August 27th, 2010

    hey there Jean, nice work manipulating your sounds. very tasteful. i’d like to ask you what do you use as a controller when you’re performing your sounds in Kyma? Is it faders as controllers or something else?


    • admin
    • August 27th, 2010

    I use an Intuos 4 for simple passes but when I need more controllers, I hook up the midi faders of a Mackie HUI.

  1. Sweet action Jed, this is a great blog! This’ll help me learning that damn Kyma thing.

    …. now practice cutting doors and cars :)


  2. Hi Jean,
    This all sounds like it could be done with SpectrumWorx! Check it…


    • samy
    • August 30th, 2010

    Salut Jean,

    Excellente combinaison de prototypes :)
    Je viens d’acquérir un Kyma et je n’en suis pas encore là lol
    D’ailleurs j’aimerais bien partager notre passion.
    N’hésites pas à me contacter par email.


  3. @ Danijel : Did you program that software? I don’t have any PC so I can’t try it out but it looks very cool though. It sounds like you did a lot of research on the frequency domain and it reminds me a bit the Michael Norris plug-in suite.

    • lematt
    • September 12th, 2010

    i’d love to buy a Kyma, but Plogue Bidule & Max/msp got me waiting for the moment.

    Plogue Bidule is worth checking out, it allows to setup FFT processing really easily, and your Bidule patches can be run as AU plugins or VST, and it’s cheap… which is not the case of Kyma.

  4. Thanks Lematt for the tips. Yes I’ve tried them both and they are pretty cool too. But you know, there are so many softwares and plugins on the market, it doesn’t really matter if you work on Pro Tools, Nuendo, Logic, Cubase, Digital Performer etc and which plugins you have. Software are just tools and like any other technology, it doesn’t make you being a sound designer, the ideas you have though might help 😉

    • samy
    • September 15th, 2010

    Hi Jean,

    Working with the Kyma like you, i tried your first sound and found the way to make frozen sound but how vocalize them ??
    Each time i want to put my voice by the microphone input to manipulate the rate of the sound, the only way i found replace the original sound :(
    Very glad if you can tell me more about this sound and the other by mail or it would interrested some kyma’s user on the forum 😉

    Best regards,


    • alex EVP
    • May 18th, 2012

    great blog.. really cool sounds.. I really like the Kyma info thanks for sharing (as I got one too),

    great reel by the way..

    Thanks for the free scapes sound bank and I just saw transform so will probably buy that too :)

    Keep up the good work!

    Alex EVP..


    • Julian
    • May 4th, 2013

    Hey Jean-Edouard… any chance you can upload your Sounds to Kyma::Tweaky and let me know, or email me direct in either case? I’d love to check out what you’ve done and pull your sounds apart… (from a Kyma learner) 😉

    • Josh
    • May 22nd, 2013

    ^^^ I would like to 2nd the above statement. I would even be willing to pay money for these patches from you so I could pull them apart and have them as a starting point for my own sounds. any chance you would consider this Jean? my email in joshpbatty@gmail.com

    Thanks a buch.

  5. Hi there,
    I thought about sending you those patches by email but I’d rather make a post like I did for the 100 whooshes in 2 min on the blog instead and share them with the community. I’ll get those patches up when I have more time, right now, it’s a little bit crazy doing all the audio by myself on Killer instinct but I’ll make sure they sound great, look nice and tidy when I have some spare time.

    Thank you for your patience.

    • Steve
    • July 20th, 2013

    Hi J-ed,
    would be great see some of the sounds as a post!

    • GiGi
    • March 2nd, 2014

    Hey there Jean….i follow you from a long time. You’re great!!

    I have now a Capybara•320 plus 2 exp.cards.
    Im trying to emulate your Wall-E patch…..but i cannot find in the Prototypes the module you named Log Magnitude.

    Also…..how did you implement the timeIndex repeating loop?

    Thanks a lot in advance and keep coming with these!
    Cheers from Italy,

    • Distressor
    • April 10th, 2015

    Just started using Kyma. Where is the best place for tutorial projects?

  6. Just wanna comment that you have a very nice website , I love the pattern it actually stands out.

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