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Can you sample a steel bowl?

Whilst making a salad for lunch, i noticed the stainless steel bowl i was using had a rather pleasant and consistent resonance when bump. After the salad and I grabbed my Shure MV-88 mic and iPad and attempted to capture an assortment of bowl-sounds from the kitchen.

I have found the MV-88 to be incredibly useful, its a tiny mic that plugs into the Lightning connector port on an iPhone/iPad. The accompanying app from Shure lets you shange the pickup response of the mic, set the gain (around 36dBs) and then record/trim/edit audio in .wav or compressed formats. It comes with a handy carry case that keeps it safe when its rolling around at the bottom of a backpack and now accompanies me on any excursion.

I proceeded to knock each bowl with one hand and used the other hand to lightly balance the bowl so it would ring true. Multiple samples of each bowl were recorded.

From then I just needed to air drop them from my iPad to my workstation and drag them into Logic Pro X. The biggest bowl was not usable as it only produced a thud, but the other two (small and mid size) produced a clean tone. There was some background noise in the recording, drone from the fridge and some traffic noise from outside. So some quick noise removal was done in Audacity and then dragged back into Logic.

Because this was more of an experiment, I didnt try to multisample with a few velocity layers. I chose one sample of each pot, added some fades and then applied some processing. Some EQ to filter out some of the harsher high end and mud, and a boost around the resonant frequencies to help enforce the note pitch of each bowl. Some reverb was added, Valhalla's Supermassive reverb/delay plugin is free and sounds fantastic! Lastly, MV2 from Waves was used to raise the sustain/tail of the sound.

Here are the raw samples of each pot:

From then I created a very simple Kontakt sampler instrument, first testing out each sample to see how well it transposed across the keyboard, eventually discovering that both samples combined sounded best. The bowls start to go out of tune as they are pitched down, so if more bass register notes were needed you might need to create a few octaves and manually pitch them.

From then all that was needed was to add some modulations in Kontakt: Note number controls pan position - this creates a nice stereo spread like a piano

Velocity controls volume -

Lastly I played around with some ideas, and this repetitive melodic pattern revealed itself. I used this as an inspiration bed, the following music track appeared quite quickly afterwards, and features a few other home-made instruments that will be featured soon (Bamboo and Genesis) along with a stock Logic Drum Kit, ARC Strings from Pianobook and Bass.ic from John Meyer,

So, it really doesnt take much effort to sample interesting objects around the house, and these sounds, even if they are functionally simple/limited, can push you into different creative places you might not have found if you were using stock instruments.

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