Churchbells revisited

Ok. I got a Hartmann Neuron a while ago, after a looong search (thanks, DG, for that). Since its ModelMaker software is PowerPC-processor only, I had to grab my trusty old Powerbook to take care of the model making. I had kept the Powerbook quite tidy, and I deleted all unnecessary bits and pieces and de-fragmented its hard drive before archiving it. However, it was quite a pleasant surprise to notice it still had an old MetaSynth app on the hard disk (thanks, Mr. Pajanen, for selling me that back in the jurassic age). Now, that piece of software is probably the only thing older than my stint with Logic. Talk about ancient, computer-literally. Whoa, dude, a double trap: Neuron and Metasynth. That’s going to eat all my leisure time and cozy home evenings.

Which they surely did. I’m currently after bell sounds and had found a lovely churchbell sample from a diskette belonging to my Korg DSS-1. I have practically NO idea where I got it from, but just to avoid possible copyright issues, I had to edit it beyond recognition – the only way to “clear” samples without clearing them is to mangle them into something entirely new. That mangling being something else than just closing the filter…

I transferred the DSSCBell sample to MetaSynth, analyzed it, and got the picture attached here as a result. I know, it’s cropped, but almost everything else was just black and I didn’t want to fill this article with black. The original sample suffered from bad looping and artifacts in the background (someone, probably myself, had stepped on a glass shard in the ground, for example), and since the bells were obviously recorded from a distance, there was quite a lot going on. And as I wanted the original tone of bells, with original attack transient AND longer body, it needed to be lengthened… Right. Ok, it was already in the picture form, with enough harmonic and enharmonic info included. And all the noise as well. What next? Enter certain photomangling software, which came in free with a scanner back in when granny had teeth. I had to keep the transient, since the sound had to be recognizable, so just scaling the x-axis wasn’t an option. Copy, paste, erase the beginning with a soft rubber, switch on the original picture, rubber off everything after the transient, combine. Remove everything else not needed, including the stepping on the glass shard. It seemed ok, and could confirm that after I imported the PICT file back to MetaSynth.

PICT after editing:

Now, what to do with looping? Audiofile Engineering has a lovely tool, called Loop Editor – a VERY cheap piece of software – which has been a tool I couldn’t live without. Though its crossfade looping can be quirky at times, causing bumps if used blindly and not appreciating loop ends and beginnings and zero crossings, it is also a magnificent time saver when the loop kicks in. If there ever was a basic tool for sound designers that should be very high in the purchase list, it’s Loop Editor.

Audible result: longbells1, please note that this is not the looped version. With some Neuron treatment – goodness gracious me, what a sound!

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