Sep 19, 2013, 10:53

When you’re trying to create supporting elements in your track like
cymbal rolls & hits, it’s easy to get in a rut and rely on the same
handful of sounds over and over again. Especially if you’re like me and
save that kind of thing for the very end.

For a while it seemed like the most often-used sample CD in my library was
“Trancefusion” by ILIO Sounds. That audio CD is nothing but hundreds of
swirls, sweeps and swells. It was the easiest way to signal to the
listener “Hey! We’re going back into that cool part now.”

So you can imagine my appreciation when a kick-ass pop music track is
supported that way by nothing more than the inspired and well-timed
turning of a single knob….the white noise filter.

Check out “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry. Pay particular attention to the
white noise (or “whooshing” sounds) that begin at 1:06 and continue
through 1:56:

This element is genius because it thinks big picture: Listen to how it
sneaks in during the verse, swells into the first chorus and then
continues to open up even wider. By the time Katy starts singing the
second verse you’ve got a full-blown hurricane on your hands. That’s
why it’s so dramatic when it goes away.

White noise, by definition, includes every frequency in the sonic
spectrum. When it’s wide open, you can’t miss it. That’s why the CIA
uses it to mask conversations. That’s why a thin slice of it in your
audio editor can be used as a snare drum hit.

Here’s an example of a white noise filter sweep, all by itself, being
generated by the venerable electronic music software Ableton Live:




And here’s an example of white noise filtering where it all began, in
progressive trance tracks like this (listen carefully at :19):


“Trance Piece” by Peter Roe

Often it’s the simplest and most basic musical ideas that
resonate most with an audience. As a music producer, one must tip their
hat when such things are accomplished….and consider those ideas for
their own music.

Kudos to producers Dr. Luke and Cirkut for adding this incredibly
powerful sonic effect to this outstanding pop song. A song about
hitting bottom and starting over.


Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of, a production music marketplace with over 25,000 tracks online where media producers, video producers, filmmakers, game developers, businesses and other music buyers can license high-quality, affordable royalty-free music from an online community of musicians

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