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How To Create A Soundpack

Welcome back to a new blog post! This time I wanted to create a 'behind the scenes' of my work and share my experience of creating sound packs so far with you.


Hopefully in the end you'll have a better understanding of my process, and how you can start creating one for yourself.



The concept


First things first, it all starts with a concept and a vision.


I like to create themed packs that tell a story. Like all high-value art forms, they must have a deep meaning and a distinct, unique research path.

Or at least, that's what I like to do to differentiate myself from some other creators.


What genres of music do you want to be represented?

That's actually not a question I ask myself often since I think all music is strongly interconnected, so I like to go over the genre labels and create something that may inspire different artists.


So the question I ask myself is: What types of sounds do I want to create?

What kind of moods do I want to convey to them?


Do the sounds feel emotive and angelic, dystopian and aggressive, or a bit of both? Are they pretending to be played monophonically like basses or polyphonically like pads and keys?


In which category do the sounds fit in?

The sounds I love to create the most overcome these categories and I usually call them 'Hybrid ', since they can mutate from one form to another: with some clever mapping you can transform a lead into a pad, or a bass stab into a driving sequence, for example.



The imagery and naming


I love soundtracks. I take a lot of inspiration from music for media, since I like the idea of picturing a scene with my sounds.


So, after having decided on the concept of the pack I like to brainstorm some images on the web or with AI apps.

I like using Midjourney since you can describe perfectly the idea that you have in mind and often something cool comes out.


When I find an image that matches my concept perfectly, then I use it as the desktop wallpaper on my second screen before starting to design sounds.


In this way, I have a clear direction to follow in the next steps.


At school, we were used to giving a title to a text before writing it, and that's exactly the same thing. If you skip this step, you'll find it much harder at later stages to find coherence in your work.



The draft stage


We have thought about a unique concept for our pack and found a great image that fits in. Now?


Now we open up our synth of choice, possibly in our second monitor with our chosen artwork in the background, and start making sounds.


At this first stage, I like to experiment and get lost in the process, saving a bunch of drafts along the way.


I have a schedule to respect, like '5 patches per hour ' so I try to be as efficient as possible.


The hard thing is finding a balance between sound research and time management. But with time and practice, it's doable.


Sometimes I like to create a template and start from there, sometimes I start from scratch. Other times I like to open an old patch and find a new creative direction.


There is not a perfect formula to follow, it's all about what works best at that given time.


The most important part here is having fun and enjoying the process.


Where do you find inspiration for making sounds?

This is a very personal question.


Some people take inspiration from other people's music and try to emulate the kind of sounds they hear, and possibly even recreate them.


There's nothing wrong with this and it's a great sound design exercise.

The problem is that, at least for me, you are limiting yourself and your creativity to something that already exists.


Try instead to push your creative abstraction further, and go as far as your imagination goes.

Art to stay alive needs side-thinking, experimentation, and risks.


Not all drafts created at this stage will be chosen as the final patches.

Some will be useful as starting points for others, but that doesn't mean they are wasted. Everything matters in the process.



The refining stage


Once you've completed your chosen milestone of the number of patches it's time to get back to each of them and refine.


Basically, you're switching from the creative brain to the technical brain now.


It's time to consider all the technicalities that make a patch a great patch:


Volume consistency between presets, perfect tuning (if that's what you're after), meaningful macro and mod wheel/expression mappings, CPU consumption efficiency, keyboard range sweet spots, useful description for the user, EQ balancing to avoid resonances or harsh tones, tidy and consistent macro mappings, and names... these are just a few of the challenges you'll have to face at this stage.


All of these details sum up to create the real quality every user should expect from a well-made pack.



The testing stage


Now that you've refined all your patches, it's time to test them.

Create a demo track to use them in action inside a musical context.


Possibly even send your demo pack to a trusted friend who can give external feedback on your sounds.


This is extremely valuable and helps give you an idea of how the end user may approach your sound bank. Ask for a demo so you can hear how other people may use your sounds.


In the end, it's all about creating a set of sounds the user may enjoy using for his own projects. The better patches are those that you wish to play along with as soon as you hear them and give you some ideas and inspiration for making music.

Maybe they can become a supportive layer for other sounds, and find their way in unexpected scenarios.



The packaging


As the name suggests, a sound pack needs great packaging. What does it mean?


You should include in a ZIP downloadable file all your assets in the most tidy way.


Subfolders, naming conventions, a PDF guide for explaining the content, and maybe some bonuses like a personalized skin, artwork, and even samples if you want to include them too.


Double-check and even triple-check that you didn't make mistakes or forget anything as any pitfall may be seen as a lack of attention and quality by the end user.

The devil stays in the details after all.



Summary


These are the most important steps I follow along each time I create a new sound bank. But maybe you'll find a more personal workflow that suits better your way of working with sound. What I suggest is finding your own creative voice, and don't be afraid to experiment.


Remember: you're an artist who wishes to inspire other artists.

Don't copy other people's packs the same way the end user wouldn't copy other people's music. Be unique, be you, and you'll eventually discover your own niche of fans enjoying your vision.



Extra


What is a great patch, or a great sound?

That's probably something you may be asking yourself often.


For me, it is all about expressivity and liveliness: a great patch sounds organic, and interesting, and with a lot of customization possibilities to transform into something completely new and unexpected for that 'wow' factor.


Some synths have an inherent organic nature to start with, while others need more programming and modulations to create the magic.


Sound design doesn't need to be complex at all times, what matters the most is whether the patch gives you a great feeling about uniqueness, expression, and vibe.


Good luck with your next sound design sessions :)






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