Sonic Cinematic: The Lost Alarm Clock

My project was based on making a soundscape designed to mimic the atmosphere of a nightmare or dream.

To achieve this end, which I envisioned involving large atmospheric sounds, I first recorded into Ableton a few MIDI clips that were then played by devices such as Collision. This device simulated a large drumhead with a loose membrance and a very slow decay. It ends up sounding like a drone with a howling noise on top that sounds much like the wind. I combined this with another instance of Collision to make a submix that consisted of this sound and a more industrial grinding sound. Finally, I used a string emulator, Tension, to make a bowed instrument sound that was automated to increase the force of the bow stroke slowly.

To create an environment that sounded like falling into a dream, I used sound clips of a classroom, walking, doors, patting a pillow and breathing to represent leaving a school or workplace followed by falling asleep immediately. As these sounds progress, the artificial and synthetic atmospheric sounds come in to represent the abstract nature of the dream. Slowly, the sound of an alarm clock comes in before those sounds, only to disappear before the last sequence. In the end, the piece closes with the snooze button on the alarm clock being hit while a person gasps and ruffles their sheets.

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2 thoughts on “Sonic Cinematic: The Lost Alarm Clock

  1. Hi Sam,

    The concept here is an interesting one. Musically, your more complex/full textures are the most successful moments of the work. (So around 3 minutes – 3:30 and around 4 minutes.) The moments with less going on don’t work quite as well in my mind. That isn’t to say that less doesn’t work well in general…it’s more that the particular sounds seem to work better collectively rather than independently.

    Using found sound in the intro can also work, but it’s important to weave these more seamlessly into the overall composition or at least into the transition. Otherwise, you could make a much more abrupt break at the start of the musical piece. Returning to the intro to conclude also can work well but in general its overdone. So, if you are going to do it, really exaggerate a new take or a new direction with the material.

    The found sounds you’ve used have a bit of a ‘stock-photo’ feel to them. Perhaps it would help to personalize these a bit more? It may just be that each sound needs to be used less (fewer repetitions) and that you need to use more different sounds.

    This is a great effort, and I were you to continue exploring it, I’d focus on working on and really polishing shorter segments. Get a few people to listen as you go, and also come back to parts yourself after a few days with fresh ears. I think with some revision this could work really quite well!

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