For this month’s release we present to you Streetlab: a pack comprised of sounds provided to us by Josh Green (of Permanent Record Drums and a Sensory Percussion user), with additional sounds and kits produced by us here at Sunhouse HQ. It includes 419 original raw samples and 17 new kits. To record the gritty skateboard sounds, Josh partnered with Andrew Meador, a musician and skateboarder.
Andrew and Josh first went to the Chattanooga skatepark to capture the sounds of Andrew riding his skateboard on ramps and rails, and then they took the board to be recorded at a street spot. Initially they found that it was surprisingly challenging to capture a wide variety of sounds, because even vastly different tricks end up sounding similar when recorded. And so in their “Cambrian Explosion moment” they decided to go back to Josh’s drum studio and record samples using brushes and sticks to strike the grip-tape and other parts of the board. They focused on texture-on-texture sounds instead just different motions of the skateboard.
Their contribution to Streetlab is an exhaustive exploration of various types of decks, trucks, wheels, rails, and grinds, smashes, and crashes.
At Sunhouse, we recorded the chords, tones, and drum machine sounds in the “synths” folder included in the pack. The electronic sounds range from bubbly and cool to spidery and gritty.
While we always love it when our users to mix and match the preset drums of kits to make entirely new kits (and then of course to add their own sounds on top of them!), we often build kits as a thematic collection of four drums that were tweaked to sound best together.
But Indy (along with many of the kits in Streetlab) was initially made as four stand-alone drums, before those drums were combined and tweaked slightly to go better together. The result, we hope, is a cohesive kit that can be used as independent drums and mixed and matched with other kits. Try mixing and matching the drums from all of the non-tonal kits in this pack — we think you’ll like the result!
Indy is made entirely up of the skate sounds Josh recorded, and responds like a classic Sensory kit with center-to-edge pitch control of the samples mapped to the heads of the drums, and rim shoulder-to-rim tip control of the samplers mapped to most of the rims. The rim of Drum 3 has an exclamatory “Woo!” sound accompanied by the sound of a (presumably) successful skateboard landing.
Play a stick-shot on Drum 3 of McTwist to toggle between two different hip-hop-style vocal samplers mapped to the head of the drum and pitched by center-to-edge controller. Drums 1 and 2 have cycling samplers filled with rocks smashing, skate-tape, and skate-trucks sounds.
Drum 2 of the kit, Melon, is a hi-hat emulation created with the skate sounds. We’ve found that it often sounds best to use mesh-heads when creating a hi-hat emulations, because acoustic toms don’t always blend well with trappy hi-hat sounds like the ones that are mapped to this drum. Play a buzz on Drum 2 and the hi-hat samples will pitch down an octave.
You’ll see in Drum 2 of Body Jar that “all blends” is turned on, but when you click on the active pads you might notice that all of the samplers are removed from blends except for those mapped to the center.
In this way you can have “one way” blending — the percussive cycles mapped to the center will respond proportionally to your playing across the entire drum, but the rim-tip-hi-hat sound, and the rimshot clap sound will only activate if you play those gestures.
Drums 1 and 3 of Judo Air are snare and percussion mappings, respectively, but like many of the kits in this pack are composed completely of skateboard sounds. The vocal sounds mapped to the head of Drum 2 are pitched to a 2-note scale (root and 4th) that slides up about an octave and a half as you play from center-to-edge. The vocal sampler on the rimshot are pitched by an LFO, while the the one on the rim tip responds to velocity (the harder you play, the higher up the sample is pitched). Drum 4 of this kit is a simple kick drum mapping of the drum machine kick sounds included in this pack.
Helipop is a spacy kit with an intuitive feel. Drum 3 is essentially a sound FX drum: predictably unpredictable. LFO’s control pitch and reverse parameters in the samplers mapped to the center and edge of Drum 3, but you can be sure that you will get a relatively short, percussive sound when you strike the drum.
The kits, STREET is primarily made from single drum kits that Josh made shortly after recording the skateboard sounds. In most drums in STREET there are longer skating or vocal sounds mapped to the more deliberative gestures such as stickshot and damped.
No Comply relies heavily on the drum machine sounds we recorded here at Sunhouse and added to the pack. Josh’s skateboard sounds are still mapped to rimshots on the drums of this kit, tying this kit thematically to the rest of the pack. The electronic hi-hat sounds on Drum 2 cycle in a pattern of five, which will give your 4/4 grooves a funky vibe.
We went a bit wild with the modulation effects on Drums 2 and 3 of Lien Air (hopefully tastefully so). The hi-hat sounds on Drum 2 to are processed through a flanger and then a phaser, and the tom sounds mapped to Drum 3 are processed through a phaser and then a flanger. The rate knob on all of the “SunMod FX in this kit is modulated by random LFOs, which is what makes the samples emanating from Drums 2 and 3 sound like they are a spinning coin on a table, occasionally spinning to a halt, but then magically ramping back up again.
In creating Tail Devil, we further explored the flanger & phaser relationship that I described above in Lien Air. But instead of modulating the rate knobs like in Lien Air, Drums 2 and 3 of Tail Devil are processed through flangers and phasers with very slow, steady rates. This doesn’t cause the “coin-spinning” effect, but does allow you to tap into the slowly modulating rhythms produced by the slightly differing rates of the phasers and flangers.
Check out Drums 2 and 3 of Bubbler Chamber! It’s a new Sensory technique for sound separation within kits. Mapped to the shell pads of those drums are samplers with tonal sounds, but those shell pads are not active in this kit!
Never fear! Because on each drum there is a velocity controller mapped to the play button of those samplers which is sensitive to the entire drum if you play hard enough. That means you can play those drums anywhere to activate the chords (as long as you play intentionally hard), but still have other sounds assigned to active pads. It also has the added benefit of allowing you to add different pad effects to different sounds that are responsive to the same gesture or the entire drum.
Drum 3 of Stalefish has a chord progression that is split between the center and edge pads. There are 22 chords sequenced to the center pad, and just a three chord cadence on the edge pad. You can play through the airy chords by playing the center of the drum, and then play through the definitive cadence whenever you are ready to by striking the edge three times.
The filthy distorted chords mapped to the head and rim of Drum 3 are arranged in a way similar to the chord progression in Stalefish (but assigned to different gestures). The three chord cadence on the head of the drum is muffled by a low-pass filter (modulated by LFOs on resonance and frequency). The longer chord progression mapped to rim of Drum 3 is passed through an unmodulated high-pass filter, juxtaposing the murky-low-passed cadence.
Here at Sunhouse HQ we have been working on a voice-movement technique using Sensory Percussion. Based loosely on the Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass part-writing style refined by JS Bach (and then relentlessly crammed down the throats of Music Theory students for two and a half centuries and counting), this technique has all of the beauty of four-part chorale music, but none of the out-dated, pedantic rules.
Here’s how it works: there are four samplers mapped to the head of Drum 3. Each contain a “C-note” and are quantized to a scale. In Candy Flip, that’s a slightly modified version of the Hungarian Minor scale (which is probably my favorite scale: that raised 4 gets me every time!) — the first sampler contains a bubbly sounding low note and is controlled by a center-to-edge controller: striking the center will play the tonic, playing out towards the edge will cause the note to climb up the octave, leaping along just three other notes.
The tenor voice is in the second sampler and contains more notes of scale, (including that classic raised 4!). It is governed by a different center-to-edge controller with sensitivity settings ensuring that playing directly in the center of the drum will activate a 5th above the tonic. Playing out towards the edge will make the tenor move up along the scale eventually reaching a full two octaves above the tonic at its highest point.
The alto voice in the third sampler is governed by the same scale and center-to-edge controller as the tenor voice, but its range is flipped — ensuring that it is always advancing in the opposite direction of the tenor voice. So when you play out to the edge of the drum it advances down the scale to its lowest pitch of Ab(a minor 6th above the tonic). But striking the drum in the center will cause the alto voice to sound exactly two octaves above the bass.
Finally the soprano voice is pitched an octave above the alto at its lowest point and is able to play all of the notes of the Hungarian minor scale by playing the drum from the center out to the rim (governed by a center-to-rim tip controller).
Perhaps this technique results in parallel 5th and octave movement between the voices, and maybe there is a leap of an augmented 2nd, or there could even be 7ths resolving downward, but Bach is dead so that’s okay.
Varial explores a variation of the same technique described in Candy Flip, but only has three voices and dramatically includes cycling of octaves between the high voices. The kit uses the voice-movement technique on both Drum 2 and Drum 3 — contrasting the notes of the spindly sounding “spider” synth, with those of the bubblier “dive” synth.
Method Air has filthy distorted patterns of bass notes cycled samplers on Drums 2 and 3. There are note-patterns of different lengths inhabiting the center and edge pads of those drums, allowing you to create and control unique melodies on those single drums or spread across the two.
BERN has a nice modded-out-octavey-lydian-melodies on Drums 2 and 3 (lydian mode has that raised 4 that I dig so much). Drum 1 is an interesting skateboard snare model that Josh built — one of the things that never ceases to impress me about Sensory Percussion is the ability to have recorded samples manipulated to respond to your playing like an actual drum.