Making New Sounds
Working with the technology of sound recording and playback, people soon discovered that they could create entirely new sounds. By manipulating the electrical signal sent to a loudspeaker, sounds that had never existed before came to life. The loudspeaker became part of an instrument itself.
Generated sounds are made with the help of technical equipment, for example, a computer.
What you just heard is a generated sound. Generated sounds are used in Electronic Music.
You might have come across generated sounds in many situations in your life. And it is very likely that you will have heard music using these sounds.
Uncovering the Ingredients of Sound
With the help of electronic technology, it was possible to examine how sounds worked.
Scientists investigated the basic properties of sound and then created electrical circuits which could reproduce and create new sounds.
They used oscilloscopes (a piece of equipment that displays soundwaves on a visual screen) to view the soundwaves:
Building New Sounds
Inside nearly all electronic instruments is an electrical part called an OscillatorA piece of electrical equipment that produces a back and forth motion in electricity, thus inducing an AC current which can be sonified by a loudspeaker.oscillator. These create a Signal WaveA signal wave is a pattern of electricity which can be converted into a sound wave (for example by a loudspeaker), or can be used to drive other processes an manipulations (for example an LFO).signal wave which moves back and forth (the wave can be described as oscillating). Almost any electrical device that produces its own sound will contain an oscillator.
These oscillating electrical signals are then fed to a loudspeaker and are converted into soundwaves:
While different types of oscillators will create sounds that have a different timbre.
By combining individual, basic soundwaves, it is possible to create an unlimited number of new sonic textures.
Many early electronic instruments were extensions to existing acoustic instruments (e.g. the Electric guitarThe electric guitar is not a truly electronic instrument, but a traditional instrument that has been adapted and electrified. The traditional hollow body of a guitar is replaced with electromagnetic pickups. These electromagnetic pickups sense the movement of a metal string vibrating above them and convert that movement into an electrical signal.electric guitar) but other brand new instruments were soon invented.
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When the performer moves towards the antennae, their body interacts with the electronic circuitry to produce a sound.
The smooth electronic sounds of the theremin have been very popular wherever composers have needed to create a sense of mystery (for example, in science fiction films and in crime and mystery dramas).
If you have some electrical components, it is possible for you to make your own theremin using an empty drinks can!
Build Your Own Theremin: Instructions
When playing the instrument, the performer becomes part of the electronic circuit themselves!
The pitch of the instrument is controlled by squeezing the bolt and the tin, which changes the flow of electricity in the circuit (and through the performer!!!).
If you know someone who is able to solder electronics, then you can build your own sudophone.
All the instructions, and a list of all the parts that you might need, are available on the inventors website: Sudophone Instructions.
TAKE CARE: The soldering process uses very high temperatures.
A recording from the mid 1960s in which Daphne Oram talks about the Oramics machine and plays some sound examples.
The composer would draw patterns and shapes onto glass plates and celluloid film, which controlled the various parameters of the sound. The shapes of these patterns directly affected and controlled the sounds that were generated.
Programmers have created a version of the Oramics machine for iPhone and iPad. Download and draw your very own sounds, or even compose a whole piece!