audio_Output: Richard Devine – The Electronic Music Manuscript

Just released by Sony is the The Electronic Music Manuscript sound library, which happens to be a brilliantly thought out collection of sounds plus an ‘above and beyond’ style presentation that you don’t often see as part of commercially released sound libraries. The two CD set comes bundled with a large number of photographs which highlight some of Richard’s methods of mayhem, two videos showcasing the creative processes, a huge interview with Richard giving a more in depth look at his work and history, NI Battery kits and finally the 24bit WAV files…

I caught up with Richard this week for a quick interview about the release…

JM: It’s great to see a library full of sounds that you can’t exactly tie to a specific genre that come from a more experimental direction, what was your inspiration for the overall collection?

I wanted to make a library that would be useful for many different people. I was aiming for sound designers, composers working in Film/TV, radio, video games, and electronic music. I tried to create some really unique material that could be used in a loop format with ACID and Apple Loops, but also include single shot and Battery kits for those who want to program and manipulate the sounds on a more detailed level.

More ahead.

JM: People generally know your work from the electronic side of things, but I know you also use a lot of weird acoustic instruments and different types of microphones/pickups. Did any of that make it into the library?

I have recently been going out and doing tons of field recordings. I had Josh Kay who is a close friend of mine work with me on a lot of these recordings and sounds. We both used the Beyer Dynamic 930C stereo pair microphones for a lot of the outside ambiences and Foley objects. We also used the Rode NT4, AKG C-1000’s, DPA-4017’s Shotgun Microphones, Sony ECM-MS 5 and the Blue Dragon Fly microphone for the instruments here at the studio. We used the Sound Devices Mic Pre’s for all the outside location recording material. We recorded lots of strange instruments like the Water phones, Tibetan Singing Bowls, Talking Drums, Space Phones, Thunder Drums and Wooden Log Drums. We also recorded a small collection of Indian Pan Flutes, Bamboo Flutes, Ocarina’s and several Didgeridoo’s that I got in Australia. Some of favorite recordings came from the African Finger Pianos. We did a whole bunch of sessions doing prepared Finger Pianos. I have about 12 different ones that we recorded doing all sorts of strange stuff to. We would take a very John Cage approach to experimenting and getting new sounds out of these instruments. Sometime Hammering nails into the wood and using Magnets, Rubber Bands, Paper clips, wires, and small mechanical motors to play onto the metal tongs. You would be amazed at some of the variety of sounds we got. We did a 4-day recording session of my old Kurtzman grand piano, which was amazing. We placed the Water phone on top of the Piano Strings and played the water phone with a Violin bow, and let the metal bowel resonate into the chamber of the piano. It was a super creepy sound. All of these recordings made it into the final library. I was really happy with how this all turned out.

JM: While working with a company as large as Sony did they apply any limits to what you were able to create or did they let you design the library in the way that you wanted it?

The first person to contact me about doing the library was Richard Thomas who is one of the head directors of Audio at Sony Creative Software. We met at the 2007 NAMM show, and started talking about doing a library. Richard had mention to me that they had been interested in doing a library with me for a while. I was worried that it might be limited to a specific format or genre, but to my surprise they where completely open to what ever I was going to give to them. They had already done their homework and were keeping an eye on me for quite some time. They were familiar with my music, and the sound design work I have done for other companies. So it was a blessing that I was able to release this project with them without any limitations. They gave me total freedom over everything which is really amazing.

JM: The library actually comes with notes, photographs and even two videos. This is something I have never seen as part of a sound library, can you tell us a little more about this?

Yes, we wanted give more details about the project and how we recorded it. I almost felt like this was like releasing another record in a way. I love getting something that feels like you can get a glimpse of that artist life within a specific time period. I wanted extra linear notes, pictures, and videos so people could get an idea of how it all came together. To have some visual references that could be associated with the project. I think it is much more memorable then just having a bunch of folders with sounds on a DVD.

JM: Was there any specific or unusual sound design techniques that you used for any of the content in the library?

We used a lot of different techniques for this. We did lots of layering and combining of acoustic sounds with synthetic sounds. Like taking the sound of a train passing by and layering that with pitched down animal breathing sound, or layering the sound of a car driving over a bridge and layering that with the VCO of a Buchla 200e. Then sending them through a Eventide H-8000FW. We also used the Kyma System for lots of sound morphing and spectral FFT processing of sounds. I would run tons of field recordings through Kyma and get some really odd FM based modulated sound scapes, and beautiful granular bits. We used the Nord Modular G2 and Roland V-Synth GT for lots of Format and Elastic type sounds. A large portion of sounds where created using the Cwejman S1 and Doepfer Modular systems that we have here. We even used a handful of circuit bent
machines like the Highly Liquid bent 707, and TR-808.

JM: As far as I know this is your first commercially released sound design library, are there plans for more in the future?

Yes, I have lots of cool things planned the future. I am hoping to get into making my own custom hardware sometime. I have lots of interesting concepts that I have been trying to realize into hardware. I have been talking to Mike Brown (Livewire Synthesizers) and working with many software companies developing new interesting sounds for other virtual plug-in packages. We are also trying to launch our own small boutique sound design company DevineSound. I want to launch some really crazy new libraries in the near future for users who have Kontakt and Battery.

‘The Electronic Manuscript: A Richard Devine Collection’ can be purchased and previewed here.

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