Sound Design at HammerSound

The Sound Design section is a place where you can find information about designing and using your own sounds for musical purposes. Here you'll find articles about sound creation and links to tools you can use. At the present time, this section is geared towards sound design using SoundBlaster AWE and SBLive! soundcards, at least when it comes to the details of editing instrument parameters. Still, most of the information found here can be applied to any decent modern sampler or synth.

A Sound, an Instrument, a Patch, a Program (or whatever you like to call it), designed on a traditional sampler / synthesizer is built out of two different entities, on two different levels :  the Sample(s) and the Instrument Parameters. To be able to design good sounds, you have to have the knowledge and skill to create sound at both levels. This site will try to provide some of the knowledge you might need, the skills will come from trying out the tools, experimenting and 'doing it yourself'. Knock yourself out!



The Art of SoundFont: A Step-by-Step Guide
I've finally been able to track down a copy of Jess Skov-Nielsens excellent article about soundfont creation. The article was featured on the Creative Inspire webpages some time ago, but mysteriously disappeared. It is a very good introduction to anyone interested in creating their own soundfonts using Vienna. The link is to a zip-file containing a PDF file as well as some samples that accompany the tutorial. The PDF-file was put together from the original webpages by Michael Coleman, webmaster of the GlowGeorge website. You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read it. As mentioned above, the article was writen by Jess Skov-Nielsen. I don't have his email address, but would really like to get in touch with him, so if anyone knows how to reach him, please let me know.
Removing unwanted Noises from Audio Samples
Andreas Sumerauer, the creator of the Early Patches soundfonts ( "The Sounds of rare acoustic Instruments" ) has written a useful article showing us how to remove noises from audio samples - using the CoolEdit 2000 sample editor. If you're interested in really vintage instruments, or just into "Late Renaissance Techno", have a look at his website, which features free soundfonts from his great production.
Soundfonts and Cakewalk Pro 8.0
This is a short tutorial on how to use soundfonts in your compositions for you Cakewalk Pro 8.0 users. The article was writen by Chris Upfield.
Cigar Music - A quick start to audio compression
Joost Boomkamp has written another good article. This one is about audio compression, with images and sounds that illustrates the process. You'll find another good article about audio compression at the Alesis website.
The Basics of Digital Audio
This article is an introduction to digital audio. It starts with a thorough explanation of the fundamental terms of audio, like frequency and loudness, moves on to the digital bit, and finishes with a step-by-step guide to recording sound on your own. It is a must-read for anyone wanting to record and work with digital audio. The article is written by Joost Boomkamp.
Vintage Synthesis on the AWE32/64
There is a lot more to sound design than sampling a preset sound from some synthesizer or sampler and creating an 'instrument' that just plays that sample when you press a key on your MIDI keyboard. Ian Wilson has written an article about what he calls Vintage Synthesis, where he describes how  to use the AWE soundcard to create new sounds, rather than just playing back samples of someone else's instruments. The article is also a good introduction to sound design in general. Ian has created a soundfont called 'Vintage Dreams Waves' that illustrates (or rather: auralizes) the article. The Soundfont is available in the HammerSound SoundFont Library (stored under the category 'Collections'). Ians website, Vintage Synth Dreams,  has more articles as well as more of his excellent soundfonts - well worth a visit!
Computers and Music - Using SB soundcards, computer and E-mu SoundFonts
This article, written by Kai Phil, explains how to use the software included with the SoundBlaster AWE soundcard to make your own sounds / soundfonts. People not familiar with using Vienna to create soundfonts will definetly benefit from reading this article. [Original website]
Jim Aikin of Keyboard Magazine has written a series of articles explaining synthesizers, samplers, sound creation and MIDI for those of you who are new to the game. Since the restructuring of the Keyboard site, only one article (describing the basics of MIDI) is left.
Sound Design[As of May 3. 1998, this link is dead due to massive restructuring of the Keyboard website.  Keyboard editor Marvin Sanders has ensured me that these pages will be up in a couple of months...]
Michael Marans, Keyboard Magazine, has written a series of articles regarding designing sound, both at the 'sample' level and at the 'instrument parameters' level.
Physics and Psychophysics of Music
For those of us interested in what is really going on, this article is definitely worth reading. Among other things, it defines sound, explains loudness, spectra, tuning, scales, and the process of hearing. Written by David Worrall at the Australian Centre for the Arts and Technology, Australian National University.
Your Article
.. could be here. If you think you've got some knowledge regarding sound design that you'd like to share with others, send me a mail and maybe your name will be in gold (or more probable: in white) on this page some day.


You are not on your own! There are several tools that will help you create your sounds. You'll need tools to cover sample editing and creation, as well as for editing the instrument parameters. A good place to start with sample editing and creation is CoolEdit from Syntrillium Software. As for editing instruments, AWE users are more or less stuck with Vienna 2.3 from CreativeLabs.

The Shareware Music Machine has a comprehensive list of software to create sound and music. Go and take a look, there's a lot of great software out there...

The complete HammerSound website, including all text, images and databases,  is copyright (c) 1997-2000 Thomas Hammer
[HammerSound Home]