Layering is one of the most used and efficient technique in sculpting sonic material. Thanks to layering we can create more complex sounds like in the real daily life and making things sound full bodied and powerful. Furthermore It intensifies the beautiful lie of sound designing since very often what we actually see on the screen and the source are not related. One of the most icon example: the sound of the Velociraptor in Jurassic Park (1993) is made my layering a dolphin scream with a sound of a walrus.
(“The secret of the film is that it’s an illusion” George Lucas)
We, as human beings we love illusions and we love to be tricked! Most of the visual art out there is based on this concept and we are totally fine with that (we keep on going to the cinema even though it’s “merely” fiction).
That’s why a sound designer can also easily mislead the listener separating the voice from its source, since our brain is really good at matching sounds with pictures.
Sound is a language, it can trick us, it can change the mood. The same sound can make us laugh or scare. So what makes the global meaning at the end is the context rather then the single element.
A Thousand Leaves is an instrument I’ve built using Max/Msp based on the concept of layering. Conceived as a tool for sound designers it allows a fast and straightforward approach to this technique. Moreover it embeds random process to increase the complexity of the assets and It has a batch renamer included.
So far those are the features:
- Layered playback of up to four samples simultaneously
- In-depth sample editing
- Random processes for volume and sample selection
- Pitch and volume control for each layer
- Real time recording
- Batch renamer with incremental counter
- Global and local random options
It’s still a work in progress but I’m currently working on the version 0.5 (more sample banks, more number of layers, DSP options such reverb and delay etc etc) but you can download it, tweak it, smash it and rebuild it: Dropbox Link
I will upload soon a walkthrough!