A multi-disciplinary journey in music, sound, and field recording.

“Pew! Pew!” Part Deux: Gutter Lasers

Posted: October 31st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, found sound objects, sound design
Photonic, sonic goodness through rainwater diversion? Maybe!

Photonic, sonic goodness through rainwater diversion? Maybe!

Anyone who’s got an interest in sound has heard the story of Ben Burtt using the sound of struck guy wires to create the Star Wars blaster sound. This changed the sound of science fiction forever; before this, all energy weapons were basically analog synth patches. Part of what makes this sound so unique (and repeated – Burtt himself used struck springs for Wall•E) is how high-frequency sounds travel faster through a metallic medium than low-frequency sounds. This is what gives these sounds their “PEEEWWW!” sound effect. Heck, even I used these principles to synthesize some similar sounds.

Which brings us to my rain gutters on this Halloween.

My house has thin metal rain gutters, from which I ritually hang hard-plastic LED holiday lights, usually right before Halloween, my most important holiday (today!). So when hanging the lights one year, one of the bulbs struck the middle of a 30′ run of solid metal and made this muffled, “block” peewwww sound. Laser-like, but different, loads of low-mid frequency content. I live pretty close to a highway, which was line of sight from my roof, so the only way I could record this sound cleanly was by using a contact microphone. (Recording a length of rain gutter with a small condenser mic in an indoor space would sound less clacky and “square,” but I don’t have a 30′ long recording studio!)

After some EQ, compression, and limiting, the results are below.

LaserGutters by noisejockey
[Contact microphone, Sound Devices 702 recorder]

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