Ironchef Of Music

Sneak peak at my ICOM workbench

  • July 3, 2011

Drums from Anything

Ironchef of Music is a competition to create new music from unlikely sources. We love ICOM because it allows us to use sample manipulation in new ways that otherwise wouldn’t be necessary in typical music production. One such practice is creating drum sounds from any given sound.

Typically you would just record a drum, or use one of many drum synthesizers or sample packs. However in ICOM, we do not have the luxury of using outside sounds, or any outside oscillations from drum synthesizers. So what do we do? Using similar techniques of drum modeling found in synthesizers, we reshape the sounds we are given to become more drum like. I was giving some fellow “cheffers” some tips on how to do this, when I decided that it’s a rather tedious task to redo for every chef session, where time is very limited.

Where there is a need, there is innovation! So with a night of tinkering around in Reaktor, I put together a genuine ICOM compliant sample oscillated drum synthesizer. ICSODS uses the mystery sample as the heart of the synthesizer, and models a drum sound out of whatever you throw at it. Since it is all live, you can tweak all the parameters live, making it sound close to a real drum synth in one second, and like a bizarre sound-scape the next. I still have a lot of work I’d like to put into it, but I’m very happy with the different and unexpected sounds I could extrapolate from it that I never would have been able to achieve hand editing the sounds.

Give a listen to a sample of ICSODS as I morph between several presets I made (morphing presets is another unexpected bonus to the machine!) The following recording is produced entirely from the sound of Obama talking about ducks, a sample from a previous ICOM competition.

      ICOM DRUMS test morphs 1

Above is a recording of the plug-in morphing between 3 presets and finally slowing down to a stop in real time to show some of it’s capabilities. The presets are: non-drums, junkyard kit, and a house kit. I use presets to make new kits from the same sample, and because there are so many controls, it is an easy way to mess with it. Morphing between presets is a Reaktor feature that works well with this instrument.

The kit consists of 8 modules; bass drum, snare, closed hat, open hat, low tom, high tom, zip, and cymbal crash. Each module can be output to a separate routing channel and can send to rudimentary delay, reverb, and phaser modules. I might work on more modules like claps and cow bells. You always need more cow bells.

Ring-like modulation from Anything

One tool that is common in electronic music is a ring modulator. Typically a ring modulator multiplies a sound source with a sine wave. This the reason hard-core “cheffers” frown on the tool. It inserts an outside oscillation into the mix. But ring modulators are a lot of fun, and very useful sound designing tools. So to be able to produce something similar, I made a machine that replaces the sine wave with oscillations found in the mystery sample. It turned out to be easy to make, but also very fun, creating lots of unexpected sound textures.

The first recording is a few examples using a Glenn Beck sample on a Glenn Beck sample from a previous ICOM session, and another using a tone sample with different oscillations on both left and right channels to show off how it works with stereo signals and to show off the updated stereo icom drum machine which is also using the same sound.

      ICOM Ring-Like Modulator Test_Beck
      ICOM Ring-Like Modulator Test_stereo tones and drums

Hope you like the weird sounds. I plan on using these tools for the next ICOM, so keep an eye out! Let me know if you have any suggestions!