All About ‘Unique’

Unique is a track taken from my debut EP, Portmanteau. This week’s blog will be all about the production of the song, with plenty of behind the scenes goodness for you to chew on.

Merch/uniform

I know I keep banging on about this, but this time last year I was on my first online course for music, Complete Music Production with Andrew Huang. The second module of the course, ‘Sampling, Sound Design, and Synthesis’, was the one that birthed the foundations of Unique.

Andrew encouraged us to sample sounds from our kitchens to get us thinking outside the box on what could become a potential sound source. However, sampling weird noises was something I was pretty well-versed in already, so I decided to deviate a little by selecting sounds that shared a specific theme.

I chose the theme ‘unique’ for my sounds. I wanted to use sounds only I had access to, or unusual sounds that only existed in a given moment. This meant a bit of wandering around near the beach where I live, and also scouring whatever I already had recorded in the voice notes of my phone.

The very first sound you hear in the track is my daughter’s three-year-old voice saying, “welcome to my song!” This is something she said shortly before starting to play the dried up seed heads of the aquilegia in our garden, bashing them with her little hands. I also sampled this sound to make shakers that I panned across the mix. You could say she was my first collaboration as Lucid Letters!

Another interesting noise comes in the form of these amazing little things called mermaid purses. They are the discarded egg cases of sharks, skates and rays. I made a sound with them by holding a couple and shaking them. They can be heard in the down tempo section of song and have a sort of slappy, sloppy sound from the seawater they had soaked up.

Skate and/or ray egg cases

Apart from just sampling sounds that were unique to where I live or who I know, I also took sounds that cannot be recreated. The one I’m thinking of is the whistle sound that you can hear under the lyric ‘sip a little/wet your whistle/as in reverberation.’ I was the one whistling, and recorded on my phone as I walked through a church hall in the process of being renovated.

The actual church hall, during its renovations

Today, the renovation is complete, and the reverb my whistling so keenly enjoyed at the time no longer exists due to the sound absorbing panels installed on the walls. It’s a truly unique sound sample now. And what’s more, I just so happened to whistle in the same key as the rest of the song! I didn’t even have to stretch the timing. Must have been sonic destiny or something.

One day soon I plan to catalogue every unique sample in the track and give a little bit of information on each, but today is not that day. I’ll keep you updated…


The Grand Plan Continues

As we speak, my YouTube channel stands at a tantalising 999 subscribers. Earlier this week on social media, I started offering handwritten letters to anyone who subscribed in the numbers going up to 1k. This resulted in four new subscribers, which I was so excited about!

If you’d like a letter, and also like to be number 1,000, then head over to my channel right now and click that button!

See you on Saturday when I upload Video #3 in The Grand Plan series.

Love,

Caryl

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