JEREMIAH SAVAGE ON KINETIC METAL

Sound design mastermind Jeremiah Savage spent over a year recording a huge inventory of unconventional samples. He then handpicked the best sounds to create KINETIC METAL. Here, in his own words, Jeremiah talks about the inspiration behind this one-of-a-kind instrument.

Black Cauldron

“For this sound I sampled a big black iron cauldron with boiling water over a camp fire, recording different hits on its chamber and rattling lid. When I play this sound I see the black pot set over a camp fire in a secluded part of a forest surrounded by the dark night and natural silence, with thousands of brilliant stars hanging above. What comes to mind when you play it?”

Broken Clock

“For this sound, I broke open several different mechanical clocks to reveal their unique inner workings – a thing of beauty. Rotating gears, striking bells, the ticking of the pendulum, the wind up sound of an antique pocket watch. There is a cacophony of sound in the intricately placed metal parts – a perfect candidate to bring to life in KINETIC METAL.”

Humming Top

“Tops, spinning bowls and coins, and especially the euler’s disc, which is a fun toy that can spin for long periods of time and create very interesting sounds as it winds down. Combined with nice tones that subtly evolve over time with the spinning samples, it almost creates a dizzying effect as you circle through the morphs.”

Grammophone Tin

“I wanted to bring out the patina of the metal aspects of my old antique gramophone. From the cutting of the relatively thick metal tins in the old records, the scraping of the turntable, and the winding up of the crank handle. I wanted to bring out a sort of nostalgia of the device – a sound that you can play like any other instrument, and with other musical elements with its old wrinkled character.”

Furnace Grates

“I recorded several parts of a furnace to achieve the atmosphere and tonal elements of this sound. Grates, furnace damper, and some particularly interesting samples from a day when we had hurricane strength winds where I live. I stuck my recorder inside the furnace because all the metal parts of the chimney flute were making some nice noisy, rattling, and vibrating metal sounds from the wind.”

Hammered Kettles

“Kettles make good metal resonators. They have beautifully rich metallic harmonics and tones. The kettles I've recorded are a variety of different shapes and sizes. They have different harmonics, unexpected tones, and a variety of dynamics. There are limits with kettles – they don't change pitch easily, they definitely don't morph. But with careful structuring into KINETIC METAL’s unique interface, we can elevate their usefulness and flexibility.”

Cylinder Music Box

“Important aspects of a music box were recorded for this instrument such as comb tines, windup key, spring motor, cylinder movement, etc. To make the sound more flexible, it was necessary to subtract the natural tones from the comb tines and carefully replace them with waves of varying tones designed to fit the different harmonic structures.”

Tin Man Locomotion

“This sound was inspired by the tin man in The Wizard of Oz. But I wanted the mechanics that made him work – gear wheels, exhaust chuffs and whistles, oil cans, his empty tin chambers, and even the illusion of a heart beat which seemed to propel him forward. In the movie, you don’t get a sense of those things and I wanted to bring him to life through sound.”

Sword Glissade

“For this sound I recorded different characteristics of an old sword. Drawing it from its sheath, swooshing noises from cutting through the air, etc. The inspiration from this sound came from the exaggerated sound design of movies like ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’. It’s a sound not dissimilar to tonal percussion, but with unique attributes that can’t be duplicated by traditional instruments.”

Gas Tank

“For this sound I recorded various old and interesting gas tank dynamics. Mainly old military gas tanks I found at a junk yard. Some still with gas inside that swirled around when you hit them. Little things like that that give you a sense of the instrument’s unique character. The convolution effects I used tie all the parts together with a subtlety that allows for the natural richness to breathe.”

Telegraph Key

“For this sound I wanted to capture a telegraph key combined with a wide range of tones and atmosphere. When playing a note on the keyboard, the sensation of actually pushing a telegraph key pad is very natural. The metal click and aftertouch sounds create a very realistic sensation. When a tone is held down, radio airwaves and noisy squeals bring the realism and otherworldly effects naturally closer.”

Antique Rotary Phone

“This sound was inspired by and made from a couple of old antique phones. One really old phone’s mode of calling was to talk to an operator first (no rotary). The ringing bell samples were derived from it. Other samples were from a vintage rotary phone. The sound morphs into other bell dynamics as well, to get interesting variations that make these antique objects come alive in ways you don’t expect.”

Antique Typewriter

“I acquired an old Underwood typewriter and tried to make it new again. To morph from one characteristic of a static object to another is something that pushes the limits of what is possible in sound design (I like the term 'Sound Sculptures' for this). At the heart of many of my instruments is the idea of creating new uses for otherwise old and ‘useless’ metal objects. Like steampunk for music instruments.”

Magnetic Balls

“I love the sound of throwing two magnetic balls up in the air while they pull toward each other and eventually hold together. In between that stage is a sort of fast bouncing ball effect that is interesting and almost unnatural sounding. I recorded several stages of this effect. When morphed together it definitely becomes something almost alien while alluding to familiar tones. Pleasing yet strange.”

Vibrating Coils

“This instrument has a sort of viola tone to it, among others. I wanted to create an exaggerated bowed string-like instrument with definite metallic overtones. The samples of the different coils are mostly from the friction interaction of other bow-like objects that give the different string tone character and color. There are also percussive elements useful for morphing into different playing dynamics.”

Helical Spring

“This sound is all about springs and the creaking sound that occurs when stretched. Hooke’s Law was obviously the inspiration. When I do sounds like this, it's interesting to hone in on certain aspects – such as any and all tonal harmonics. There are tones and harmonics that are pushed to the fore so that they can be played musically. These tonal textures can be placed in music without being out of key with any other in tune instruments.”

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