MD Series: Creating a soundscape

It is very possible for everyone to create the soundscape of their dreams without having to spend any money. The secret is being resourceful and relying on the vast library of the internet.

For the sounds themselves, there are a number of free sound libraries out and about on the net. The best one I found was ‘freesound’. This site has many different sounds. Create an account and search away. All of the sounds are easy to search, reference and rate. Some of the more unusual sounds for my soundscapes such as specific horse sounds I found on ZapSplat. This had a much smaller library but much the same usability of freesound. The downside of ZapSplat was it was much harder to reference than freesound.

Sounds that I needed to record myself I recorded onto my phone (I have a Sony Xperia Z5, which is fairly old-school at this point in the technology market). I used a free application called ‘Voice Recorder’ by Green Apple Studio.  The recordings will obviously not be as clean as they would be with a dedicated sound recorder, however, it is amazing how many of the rough edges you can polish out when you edit/mix it into the soundtrack later.

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Performance in 2012

For the mixing and layering of the tracks. I used another free program called Audacity. This was an application that I first came across when working on my music work prior to attending university. It is a simple program but it has a lot of powerful tools built in. For example, you can take the background noise off a track, add a tad of reverb to make it sound as though you recorded in a grander room than your bedroom and even start messing with the pitch. In first year I edited a lot of interviews using Audacity (it is invaluable for removing long gaps and the inevitable ums. There is an art to editing it so the narration runs without sounding unnatural). You can check out my work on that here.

So at this point, creating a soundscape simply costs you in terms of time and not resources. That is the beauty of soundscapes. They are simple to create once you practice (yay for no specialist knowledge!), fairly cheap to build and accessible to the majority of the population.

I really want to talk about each of these sections in more detail than I can in a single post. So, I will link to them below as I write them:

  • Free sounds
  • Recording sounds on your phone
  • Editing on Audacity

Let me know if you would like tutorials on any of the processes in the comments below. I would be more than happy to chat about any of the processes used in creating soundscapes from the first concept to the final polish.

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