Persian Tombak meets Technology

 

Here is an experiment where a different sounds made on a Persian Tombak are used to open gates on several different electronic synth tracks in Ableton.

This is an extension of the producer trick used to fatten a kick drum by using the kick signal to open a gate on a track that contains a continuous low sine wave, so that whenever the kick plays, a low sine plays at the same time.

I took this concept a few steps further by using four different sounds on the tombak to trigger four different synth tracks.  Instead of the synth tracks having static, unchanging sounds on them, I programed melodies, octave shifts and chord changes on all the tracks except the low tone, which did have a continuous sine wave in the root key.   The tombak sounds were: low, edge, muted snap, and scratch.

In Ableton, here is the process I used:     

  1. Mic the tombak and create an audio track for it, name it Tombak, and set the monitor to “in.”   This track will play the live tombak sound, which you can improve with send effects like reverb etc.  You can also tweak it with inserts like EQ and Compression.
  2. For the bass trigger sound:  Make another audio track with these settings;  name :trgBASS, Audio from: Tombak, PreFX, Monitor:in, Audio to: Sends only.screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-1-13-51-pm  Put an EQ8 on this track, and play the low tone of the tombak into the mic.  Look at the EQ8 frequency response when you play the low tone, and then set the EQ to boost this frequency, and use other bands of the EQ to cut all other frequencies.  I also put a compressor before the EQ with a 88ms attack time.Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 1.22.02 PM.png Now make a new MIDI track and name it BASS. Put a synth that plays a sine wave on that track and then program a 4 bar loop of a low sine wave sub bass that plays a continuous low tone.  After the synth, put a Gate, and engage the Sidechain button. Set the Audio from to:trgBASS and set the gate EQ to the same frequency as the spike on the trgBASS track: Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 1.23.42 PM.png Now hit play, so the sine loop track is playing.  You wont hear it until you play the low tone on the tombak into the mic, which will open up the gate on the low sine loop and play it for a short time.  You have to adjust the threshold and release times to get a good solid low sine that plays whenever you play a low tone on a tombak.
  3. The process for the next 3 triggered sounds is pretty much the same.  I used three more distinct tombak sounds, edge, muted snap and scratch to trigger a Rezzy synth, a lead, and chords.    To make the the edge sound trigger a rez synth, do this:    Make another audio track with these settings;  name :trgREZ, Audio from: Tombak, PreFX, Monitor:in, Audio to: Sends only. Put an EQ8 on this track, and play the edge tone of the tombak into the mic.  Look at the EQ8 frequency response when you play the edge tone, and then set the EQ to boost this frequency, and use other bands of the EQ to cut all other frequencies.   From me this was 259hz.  screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-3-47-37-pmMake a new MIDI track and name it REZ. Put a synth that plays a REZZY sound on that track and then program a loop in the same scene as the bass sine, and in the same key. This can have more variation than the continuous sine wave bass, such as filter sweeps and octave shifts, or even melody variations.   After the synth, put a Gate, and engage the Sidechain button. Set the Audio from to:trgREZ and set the gate EQ to the same frequency as the spike on the trgREZ track.   Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 3.46.56 PM.png   Now hit play, so the 2 loops are playing. Play the edge sound on the mic’d drum, and adjust the gate threshold and release so that when you play the edge sound the gate opens on the rez track and lets the sound through to be heard.  Throw a delay in a return track and send some of the rez to the delay for added effects.
  4. Repeat this process for the 2 other sounds and for the lead sound, make a crazy lead melody in the same key as everything else of course.   screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-3-48-43-pm
  5. If you want to play to a click track, you can put chord changes and entire arrangements in one or more scenes and switch them up so you can trigger entire songs with just one drum.   Also this should work with any drum that has distinct sounds.  Im going to try it with an Egyptian tambourine next!

 

 

 

 

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