Playing with sound – Derangement

Seeking inspiration and new ways of operating using the recording studio as the catalyst.

My usual method of developing musical material is to take rhythmic and melodic ideas, these that just pop into my head, usually at the most inopportune moments as described in the previous post, and shape them into cells of musical material. Trying various harmonic approaches to melodic material, usually starting with the notes of the melody to dictate the chord(s) and then using a theoretical background to give other options. The choices of material included in the final composition would be based on what mood I am aiming to create and how I perceive the listener’s journey during the performance.

My approach to this work is to find new, at least to me, inspirations and methods for my music from other sources. Playing and experimenting with sound to challenge and change my experience and provide more ideas and choices to use when composing. My concept is to create transformed sounds from the recorded material (“Deranged Drums on Digital Vistas Idea 1” at is mainly untreated) that would form the inspiration for the accompaniment to the acoustic drum sounds. These accompaniments could be performed by a small ensemble with reinforcement from sound processing or could be orchestrated for larger forces for an acoustic version of the composition.

“DDoDV Idea 2 Treatment 2” (listen at, )

When I listen to these first derangements, my verdict is the new sounds are interesting but not inspiring, the practices I have used are still anchored in the pragmatic approach I use when composing. My main thought when using different EQ, delay and reverb was how these could be managed in a performance situation, all the effects are available on standard professional concert sound mixing desks. The combination of acoustic sounds and treated material was also factored into these first explorations, I duplicated the original track, experimented on the copy, and finally mixed the two versions together. Screenshots of the effect settings were taken during the process (examples included below) as both reference material for me and they could form the basis of the sound engineer’s score for future performances of the work.

The relative pitches of acoustic drums and treated material was my first thought. I played with the EQ settings, taking out the frequencies around the acoustic sounds and worked with the harmonics the instruments produced. The screenshot below shows how the higher frequencies were accentuated.

I worked with many delay settings during the session but when I brought the original sounds back into the mix, my reaction was always to be complimentary to the original performance tempos.


Finally a spring reverb was added to the final note to give another option to the types of sound that were being produced, and would that have any inspiring characteristics that could be developed?

Listening back to the work, (with a few days in between to forget about it) I am happy with the final result as a way of enhancing drum sounds. Slightly disappointed that I do not find the sounds exciting or interesting enough to take them further at the moment. I may be searching in the wrong place. My next experiment will be using the recordings of my vocalising the drum ideas, start with the same settings that I ended up with from the drum derangements and enjoy playing with sound again.


About derangeddrums

Composer, percussionist, musical director, teacher and educator. My music has been written for audiences in palaces and in the street. Music is my vocation and my passion and I hope you enjoy it too.
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