Producing music with foley

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Foley is an artform where ordinary sounds are recreated in the studio. Things like footsteps, opening, and closing doors, moving chairs, rattling keys and clothing noises. Sounds that nobody seems to notice unless you take them away.

Recording Foley Sounds

Recording the world around you

Recording foley or ‘found sounds’ as some people like to call it, is a great way to get away from the computer screen. You don’t need any expensive equipment to record these kind of sounds. Just grab your phone and start recording. Go to your kitchen and hit some pots and pans. Or as fellow music producer Neoplumes did, record your washing machine and create a sample pack out of it! He is even kind enough to give this sample pack away for free!

Recording all kinds of sounds is fun, but it’s even more fun to use these sounds in your own productions. Layering the shattering sound of glass on top of your snare drum or using a drying machine as kickdrum. Lots of sounds also have a certain flow and rhythmic motion inside them. Escalators, for example, can be extremely rhythmic sounding machines.

Street ambience is a sound that is often used to add liveliness to a record (deadmau5 does this all the time). I once took a street ambience recording and searched for tonal bits like car horns and people talking which I then used as part of a larger composition.

Processing Your Recordings

You can mangle your recordings to unrecognizable sounds by time stretching and pitch shifting. Throw your samples in a granular synthesizer like Native Instruments’ Form and be amazed by the sonic possibilities that open up to you. A regular sampler also works quite well for looping tonal parts of a recording. Resample these sounds and run them through some guitar pedals for some extra grit.

Let your mind run free and listen to the sounds around you. You can make music with everything. Just remember to press record from time to time and after a while, you will have collected a bunch of sounds that are 100% unique.

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