Sound Check It Out

One of the great things about playing percussion in my high school band was that you got to play all kinds of odd instruments – not just the wide variety of drums, shakers, bells and wind chimes that made up the “usual” percussion instruments, but other stuff, too. One song included a brake drum, I remember. We also did all the special sound effects.

I had a special role on a few songs, too.

I was the designated screamer.

Now you’d think that wouldn’t come up too often, and it didn’t, but while I was at Jackson County Central there were at least two different songs we played that required a scream. One of them was a horror flick medley. I can’t remember what the other one was.

For both songs, though, there would be a moment of sudden silence or near-silence, and I would at that point take a very deep breath and produce an ear-splitting shriek that lasted for several seconds. By the end of the scream, the audience was always dead quiet, which allowed me to end the thing with a satisfying (and probably somewhat disturbing) half-gurgle.

Screaming doesn’t require a lot of expertise, but it is an awful lot of fun. Creating the sounds you hear in the movies requires a lot more training and work, but it also looks like fun.

Check out this video of a Foley artist recording the sounds of a galloping horse. I bet you thought they’d just go out and put a microphone on a horse to get the sounds, huh? Nope. It’s all done in the studio.

I’ve also listened to a tune played using nothing but paper bags. While that was righteously awesome (and ended, I think, with the bags being exploded), it never occurred to me to try to play a tree. This is definitely worth a listen.

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