Sound options - sound sources

Different ways of getting the sound

In the process of making a song we saw that getting the sound is the first and most important part.

What is a song?
From a recording engineer's point of view..

"A song is nothing but collection of sounds." 

Sounds of drum beats, guitar, singer's voice and many other musical instruments.

Our job is to get the sound on the DAW (software inside the computer) The most simple, basic and primitive way of capturing the sound is using a microphone. But there are many other ways too! Read on to find out...

First way - recording a sound directly from the source
This is the most basic way of getting a sound in your song that everyone is aware of. Recording the song from the source.

If you want a guitar's sound you get a guitar play it and record the sound.
If you want sound of piano, you will need a piano and you should know how to play a piano and record it.

If you want drums sound in the song, you will need drums, and record it into the computer and put it in your
If you want any other sound you will have to get the sound and record it using a microphone.

Second way - reusing a sound recorded before (sampling)
Sampling is a process of using previously recorded sounds.

Consider a case if you don't have the guitar, or you don't have a piano or you don't have drum? What will you do then?

With the help of sampling you can use previously recorded sounds of these instruments! For example you can record the sound of drum beats and use that sound later on in your song. You can record anyone only once and use the sounds in the songs.

You can even download a sound from the internet and use it in your song. Sounds of sea waves, birds, musical instruments, different types of guitars and what not. Anything that can be recorded as a sound can be sampled and used in your song.

This process of using pre-recorded sounds in your DAW is called sampling. 

Sampling has created infinite number of possibilities for someone making music on the computer. There are some software that help us in tweaking a sampled sound in making it sound the way we want, we can tweak the sampled sound. These softwares are termed as virtual instruments.

There are some other jargon words used in the world of sampling like patches, banks etc. Some other companies use their own trademark name. For example soundfonts is another term which basically means the same.

You can sample beats, patterns and even single notes. There are different ways of sampling an instrument that's why its both a science and an art.

You can have a look at the glossary to get a reference of complete terms related to sampling.

To read detailed information about sampling read the sampling page.

Third way - synthesizing (making) our own sounds from scratch
Synthesizing a sound or making a sound from scratch is the third way and another most popular way of getting new sounds on the computer. It is both a science and an art. You need to understand basics to paint your own sound using a synthesizing software.

A synthesizer is a software using which we can program our own sounds. Earlier synthesizers were big analog machines costing thousands of dollars. Today, you can get cheap and even free and good synthesizers.

" Remember we talked about waveform? Every sound has a waveform. Synthesizing is the process of creating our own waveforms. " 
You can create electric sounds on the synth.

It is also possible to create real world sounds using a synthesizer. If you have any electronic keyboard like casio, or yamaha you already have used synthesizer in the past. The sounds on these electronic keyboards are synthesized. They are not recorded from original instruments.

Expensive keyboards have the sampling facility where you can use sounds which were recorded from original source.

In order to make our own sounds on a synthesizer we must know the basics of how sound works.

There are many amazing synthesizer softwares available on the internet. One of my favourite is Oat Meal. Here is a screenshot >

MIDI - Synthesizer stores information as MIDI
M.I.D.I. stands for --- > Musical Instrument Digital Interface
As a computer recording engineer you will come across MIDI a lot.

What is midi?
Midi is the information about what musical notes would be played and when.

On the computer, virtual instruments store the information about what notes to play in the song in a MIDI format.

For example,
 The synthesizer and other musical instruments stores information about what note would be played and for how long. This format or the framework is industry standard and used by all software programs. It is known as MIDI.

MIDI in itself is a huge topic. To know more about MIDI please Click here

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