Abstract experiments 1 – Small creatures.

Don’t you subconsciously picture something in your mind when you hear sounds in the dark? Don’t you think of a sound when you look at a picture in a silent room?

“We begin to hear before we are born, four and a half months after conception. From then on, we develop in a continuous and luxurious bath of sounds: the song of our mother’s voice, the swash of her breathing, the trumpeting of her intestines, the timpani of her heart”. (Michel Chion, Audio-Vision)

  • I’ve recently experimented designing creature vocalizations with no visual material. And as you can imagine, it was pretty hard to keep a single direction! But it gave me total freedom, trying things randomly and reacting with sounds like performers do. Iā€™m still working on defining the limits though šŸ˜‰

.“Experiment as early and as often and as inexpensively as possible. Make lots of mistakes when mistakes are cheap”. Randy Thom

  1. Great stuff, Jean-Edouard! really crazy vocalizations!

    Keeping a sigle direction when designing sounds with no reference is always a bit crazy.. but is amazing to find lots of new ways to do different things. I like to put me limitations/challenges pretty often. For example… Sometime ago I did something similar with the Seal Vocals library, designing different kinds of creatures sounds using the seals vocals only. What I did was to create an story for each creature, to have a sonic approach from their behavior, characteristics, vocalizations, etc. That helps a lot to have a kind of guide for the design and apply things with a specific goal. Currently I’m doing another of these limitation/no-video challenges, with weapon sounds. It’s going very good!

    If you have some time we could put challenges together, then talk about our processes, ideas, sounds used, etc… would be fun and enriching!!

  2. Kia ora Jean-Edouard from New Zealand,

    These are fantastic – I have also created some creatures as part of my sonic arts study in New Zealand. I called them Sonic Creatures and if you check the blog page above you can read about the process that lead me towards the approach i ended up taking. in brief i used a group of kids, asked them to choose 3 objects that intuitively fascinated them and then got them to combine these objects to make sounds, then to name and describe the creatures based on what they heard.

    so i guess there was some visual material but not in the way i think you’re meaning. also i understand about defining the limits – it can be difficult.

    some of these recordings i added some DSP, some i didn’t. to me, some are vocalisations and others are the physicality of the creatures. it was a really fun and fascinating exercise and i look forward to doing more. i have also had some others listen to a creature and draw what they reckon based on the sound…so you, me and miguel are on a wavelength. great drawings. much fun to you both.

    • Anton Woldhek
    • September 27th, 2010

    Hi Jean-Edouard. Great post. I compared my mind image to what you had. We were quite a bit off. I think because of the synthetic nature of most of the sounds i had a robotic creature in my mind. What was similar in our perception was the scale of the creatures, some a bit smaller then human and some human sized.

    Btw, in the book “Sound of Starwars” by J.W. Rinzler http://www.starwars.com/vault/books/sounds_of_sw_c5/index.htm there is a nice part about the proces of creating R2D2’s sounds. Such a labor of love and its also very interesting to see how that experience must have evolved into Wally-E

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  4. @Miguel: Thanks again for your kind words. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much time but I’d definitely be up to do a little challenge with you. Maybe we should think about the rules and limitations. I’m thinking about an approach of working with sounds without being influenced by what you can see, only what you can imagine. If I’m not wrong, I think that Alan Splet was blind at the end of his life but was still working with David Lynch in the studio.

    @Christine White: Hi New Zealand! Yeah, I think we’re on the same wavelength too. I deleted your redundant messages and changed you link if you don’t mind. I’ve checked your blog and got stuck on the “Blubba Bubba” Is it a raw recording or something processed (like a pulse modulation applied the amplitude of a whoosh sound maybe?)

    @Anton Woldhek: You’re right, I think I went overboard with the treatments. I tried to keep an organic texture all the way through but I somehow failed in the path. That’s why defining the limits are very important. Also, what you heard are actually just pieces taken out of a 50 min long performance though šŸ˜‰ Regarding the Star Wars book, I’ve already asked Santa Claus to bring me that.

    @bet365: Thanks man. Glad you like it.

  5. @Jean-Edouard
    Tell me whenever you want, Jean-Edouard! I’ll be more than happy to collaborate :)


    • Mikkel NIelsen
    • September 29th, 2010


    Really impressive stuff. Im a big fan of people who can get that much out of Kyma. Im a new owner of a Paca. I find it really difficult to master the programme. The learning curve is extreme.
    Would you consider showing what prototypes you have used for processing the creature sounds?
    Also, Im curious what raw audio file was used for this?

    Thanks alot:)


  6. I’ve used some pretty simple prototypes in Kyma. Basically just Pitch, Rate and Formants were my only hot values in the VCS. If I remember well, the raw audio elements for that demo were made of a sheep, a camel, a small dog, a leopard and my own voice.

  1. April 5th, 2011
  2. May 29th, 2019