July 17, 2012

Tips and Tricks: White Noise Build Effect

When creating electronic music, it is very easy to fall into a pattern of looping four, eight, sixteen, etc. bars and things can get to sounding a bit rigid. That’s why we tend to use buildups to heighten the intensity on the way to the next segment. The logic deployed in most cases is something of a tension, release, tension, tension, release series of patterns. In other words, that huge hallelujah moment in the big room anthems isn’t going to introduce itself.

 A very common method in most styles is to do this with a drum roll or even a reversed drum hit. However, one of the most stylish and atmosphere building ways to do this is to use a white noise build up. If you aren’t familiar with the idea, think of the almost ocean sounding swells happening in the background of a lot of your favorite tracks. In today’s “Tips and Tricks” we are going to set you off into the wild and crazy world of white noise builds with a very basic Ableton tutorial. While we use Ableton and the Ableton Live Suite plug in, Analog, the principles applied here can easily translate to any other DAW with solid automation capabilities, and any synth with a noise oscillator.

White noise can easily be deployed to make a number of claps and snares with their own distinctive sound, so we will will likely return to it. Once you start playing with it, you probably won’t stop. Hopefully this lesson will set you down a path of experimentation. As you come up with any questions or lessons this might lead you to want to learn, please post them below in the comments. Enjoy the lesson, and happy writing.


Video Transcription:

Hi guys this is Lonely Paul with UniqueSquared today to teach you how to build up a white noise in Ableton Live. So white noise buildups they happen pretty commonly in electronic music and a lot of times they are just used to build heightened anticipation or set up the transition to a track it’s a fun little trick you can use so you’re not constantly reversing drum hits to set things up, and things like that.

So the first thing that I’m going to do is hit shift command T to create a MIDI track and if you’re not on a mac hit shift+control+T and now that I’ve got that we’re going to use the Analog synth that comes with the Ableton suite there are plenty of other synths that can do this but all that you really require is some sort of white noise but what I like about analog is it actually has this noise oscillator and fantastic color control and just really is good for this trick doing it quick and dirty once you have you track selected here we’ve got 13 analog I’ve grabbed all of the bars that I want to fill up with track so I’m going to hit shift command, control if you’re on PC again, and then M and it will create a MIDI clip so once I’ve created my MIDI clip I can just reach inside and drag a note out for the duration of the piece there and what that will give me is the ability to just let that note, but I’m actually going to do a number of transitions so I’m actually going since I want that note to repeat I’m going to rather than have one big looping figure of it hanging, I’m going to have four times here so we can go each time and build where we see fit.

So I’m going to enable the filter and if you notice this note is a bit percussive and it’s a bit low I want to have a little bit more color here that’s sort of the note I want but what I really want is to get rid of the percussion sound, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to take the decay and the sustain.  I’m going to raise the decay and shrink the sustain and we will have this. So it’s still percussive at the front but that’s not going to matter because when the note is being activated we’re not going to see it so if you’re not familiar with working with automation curves in Ableton what you have here is you’ve got if you select it, you can actually toggle that line into being right there so if I want to edit the color I can just start right there and right now it’s got an approximate position there that matches up where we’ve got the knob up so to set it up for example the very first line I can actually have it go about yay high so that will go, hear the noise, sort of a slow swell ocean kind of sound, and then unfortunately since I haven’t adjusted this that would sort of keep going so I’m going to go ahead and choke it off, and it will drop off right there at the beginning of the next clip.

So you sort of see the basic noise build, if you really want to have an intense one to come in for the second round which we do because there’s not much point, we’re going to let that go with some noise control that we did with just the color of the noise it’s actually going to get higher this time but we’re also going to go back and revisit that filter component that we touched a little bit there and we’re going to give it its own take on the figure, now I don’t want to close down the filter in the first patch I’m going to just create my own little set up here and it’s going to go really high and because I want it to have a little bit of extra kick so that it’s not just a second adjustment of the color we’re actually going to add some resonance to the filter as it climbs but we don’t want it to go all the way otherwise it will sort of tear your ears off as it rises so the second noise with those filter controls you’ve got frequencies climbing all the way resonance is climbing most of the way, let’s do 67% and see how that works.

Ok so you see that one is a little bit more hyper-sonicish in nature, I don’t know what the word is but it’s hyper and it’s higher and it’s shreky its just got more resonance so it just shreks at the top there so the first one with the resonance is the same the whole way through there’s nothing to it, much more basic noise. And those both sound kind of unnatural how they just stop right there the noise kind of deadens so one fun thing to do or one thing that I like to do is to throw some kind of delay at the end just so you’ve got a little bit more of a trail, something natural just so that noise isn’t completely disappearing  so in the case of the really shreky noise the way that would play out is, and another fun trick is to just put some kind of hit over the top right there, just kind of bang things in I like to do a lot of dragging and dropping when I’m working with Ableton in the most basic ways, and so we’ve got all these one shot samples that we have from one of my favorite sample collections from Loopmasters which is actually the wave alchemy drum tools set but maybe we can try to find a, I’m not really feeling the symbols today so how about a clap. There we go I like that one that will be just fine so we’ll use it right here as the rest of the noises come out, and we don’t want it to sound bizarre so maybe we’ll do one more of these delays.

Maybe that’s not the perfect sound but you get the general idea, you set up the build then you can set up a hit up at the top of the build and then you’ve got sort of transition figures, and that’s no drum roll so you can actually save yourself some steps, keep things minimal and save the drum roll for when it really counts but still have transitional signals building. When we come back next time I’m going to show you how to sidechain that white noise buld so that it can pump a little bit more underneath the mix but until then thank you for watching I’m Lonely Paul with tips and tricks, and for the best prices on all the plugins like Massive and the Moog Slim Fatty that you see making the noises in this tutorial don’t forget to visit us at call us with any questions you have about the purchase or visit us over at the blog for any questions about how to use things, we’ve got a Q&A. Thanks for watching, until next time this is Lonely Paul.


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