Composing : Use of unconventional sounds/instruments/DIY sounds by Jonathan Eric Wilson

Jonathan Eric Wilson

Use of unconventional sounds/instruments/DIY sounds

Through my career of making niche alternative bowed string instruments for a who's who list of media composers, I have seen a great thirst for creating original source sounds (not ones one can just dial up in a library. Yes, even my instruments are canned in some libraries). It has not been uncommon for me to see percussion (or other weird source) instruments comprised of things bought at Home Depot or the Junkyard. Then sampled or manipulated through plugins for musical applications. Anybody have any fun approaches ? Bowing wine glasses? Tuning fork ringing on a tin plate with buckshot? Bad old building plumbing making that horrible muffled loud clarinet reed sound sampled and then MIDI'd to a musical sequence. Okay, I made that up. Point being, any of you out there use unconventional creative approaches for source sounds? Sound design that inspires composition? Why? Why not?

Bryan Yeater

Famous Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu collaborated with famous Japanese novelist Kono Abe and director Hiroshi Teshigahara to create four films, each with very unique and sometimes cacophonic sound effects. I'll share a sample with you in a moment. These effects were done in the 60s. Toru Takemitsu also composed the score for Masahiro Shinoda's wonderful film Pale Flower, in which he used tap dancers to serve as metaphor for the sounds of the plastic cards being played in the gambling scenes. The score during the opening credits is rather wicked. Now, back to Teshigahara's four films. It would be too bad for you to not watch at least two of his films, those being Woman in the Dunes and The Face of Another. I love the non-traditional scores in both films. And to really appreciate the variance, you really need to watch the entirety of both films, not just the first five minutes. For now, I'll share with you a link to Woman in the Dunes, available in its entirety on YouTube at 720p. It goes without saying that the volume should be turned up.

Arhynn Descy

I love Takemitsu's music. I don't know the films you're referring to, Bryan, but will certainly try and find them! I'm currently working on some music in which I'm using sand to create some effects. Haven't finished, so can't post anything to listen to yet. I like introducing odd and interesting sounds into music.

Bruce Bray

That Guitarviol was incredible! Watched your video. As per your comment, I wish I had more time and could do what you do with sounds. To me, it's not necessarily creating a new sound from a scratch idea, it's having all of these ideas that come to my head because of my surroundings. For example, while cleaning the pool, I noticed the distinct rhythm the pipe had that my water hose was hooked to. It's an older pipe, and it had an incredible pulsating sound that I thought would sound really good if sampled for a backdrop in a particular song.

Bryan Yeater

Thanks Arhynn! The three films I mentioned are all in the Criterion Collection. See here: They publish critically acclaimed films. If you're in London, it might be difficult for you to view the region encoded discs or access Hulu Plus, which is an online streaming service where many of the Criterion films are available. A UK publisher called Masters of Cinema may have some of them. I love Takemitsu's work as well, especially in the films I mentioned.

Bryan Yeater

Oh, and Arhynn, I meant to mention that Woman in the Dunes features sand prominently, and Takemitsu used the sound of sand to various effect, and in artistic ways.

Arhynn Descy

Thanks Bryan for all that really useful info. Hopefully I'll be able to watch the films somehow. And that's really interesting about the sand. Now I definitely want to watch that film to hear how Takemitsu uses it.....hmmm, and there I thought I'd be the first to use sand....

Bryan Yeater

Ahrynn, I'm not sure if you missed it in my first post, or YouTube in your area doesn't make it available, but Woman in the Dunes is available on YouTube. Please look at the post I linked to below especially for the film. It's too bad nobody here has taken notice of it, as it is a very important and revered film. More info can be found in my post. Here's the link:

Timothy Andrew Edwards

Cool topic.

Arhynn Descy

Thanks Bryan....I didn't miss it. I just haven't had a chance to check it out yet! Will be doing so this weekend. And thanks for the link to your post. I'll check that out too!

Other topics in Composing:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In