The LAC2014 Percussion Combo

A music box toy found in R├╝desheim
A music box toy found in R├╝desheim

At the Linux Audio Conference (LAC) 2015 in Mainz, I gave a small “lightning talk” on April 9th about a sound project that was started one year earlier, at the LAC in Karlsruhe in May 2014.

I recorded a couple of attendees creating various sounds outside a museum in Bruchsal, and later on converted these sounds into a sample collection that could – in theory – be used as a kind of percussion/drumkit.

The whole thing was rather more a joke than a serious project, but it was an interesting learning experience for me, lots of fun to create a “demo track” with it, and maybe someone finds this useful, so grab the kit here, and enjoy.

After recording, the main tasks were to cut out the individual sounds, trim them, add in tiny fade-in and fade-out segments (all of this was done with Sweep, a beautifully usable but unfortunately today little maintained sound file editor). Also, a bit of normalization or amplification/attenuation was done with very few of the samples. However, no compression or other effects were applied.

Most of the artists attempted to play their “instrument” with a kind of velocity layering (like, hitting a boot with another one first softer, then ever louder and stronger), but the order was not kept everywhere, so I also had to listen to the samples repeatedly to determine my own (purely subjective) correct velocity layer ordering.

Then I noticed that I created stereo samples, but this did not make so much sense for percussion instruments in a musical context, so I had to convert them to mono. On Linux, this is pretty much a 1-liner:

mkdir mono; for i in *.wav; do sox $i -c 1 mono/$i; done

The kit consists of 11 different “instruments”, some of which are velocity layered while others are best played as individual samples (one sample per key):

  • Lowa Boot Kick (Marc Groenewegen)
  • Banana Peel Slap (Pjotr Lasschuit)
  • Mini Stone HiHat (Frank Neumann, recorded much later)
  • Knee Bottle (Nils Gey)
  • Double Finger Snap (Bernard Tressol)
  • Rubber Band Twang (Michael Seeber)
  • Small hand Claps (Stefano Pedrinazzi)
  • Hand Fart (again Marc Groenewegen)
  • Ticket Key Rattle (Marie-Kristin Meier)
  • Camera Pocket Zipper (Fernando Lopez-Lezcano)

For each instrument you will find mono as well as the original stereo samples, in a “stereo/” subdirectory.
An .h2drumkit file for straight use with Hydrogen is included in the archive as well.

Here is a quick test pattern created in Hydrogen:

For those interested, the presentation was done with PinPoint (https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Pinpoint). Here is a plain rendered PDF version of those slides.

After the sample kit was done, I thought I’d also have to create “something real” with it – not just a quick test pattern – and after having had the initial idea of “doing a song that somehow shows the spirit of LAC”, I got carried faaar away and went wild in different aspects – writing a melody line, lyrics, arranging, creating a simple “video” (rather a slide show), and finally also – hold your breath – singing. Yes, really. And no, I cannot sing, but zita-at1 came to the rescue to fix the worst parts, and I think it did a great job :-).

The result is definitely not a masterpiece – it was done in a hurry, there was basically no mixing or EQing at all, but it was so much fun to create that I ignore the quality part here.

So, without further ado, I present the song/video that ended my lightning talk in Mainz – here is “That’s LAC” (video done with Blender’s VSE):

And this is what my screen looked like while working on this “jewel” –

Screenshot_ThatsLAC_Session

I really start loving Qtractor and Calf Studio Gear. Oh, and setBfree is becoming ever better too!