Q: So what exactly is all this crazy Studio Wormbone stuff, anyway?
A: The studio itself is a cutting edge control room and live tracking room that leans heavily in the direction of electronic music in all of it’s varied shapes and forms. In addition to composing and recording my own music here I (trevor dutton) also produce other bands, develop and release sound pack sample libraries, maintain an accompanying blog, and occasionally contribute sound design and soundtrack cues to film projects.
Q: Where does the name Studio Wormbone come from?
A: From an early age I had an interest in both the audible and visual forms of artistic expression. I pursued both simultaneously over the years, in many different studios, until graduating from college. As a result the word ‘studio’ has always signified something of a sacred space for me, semantically connecting both visual art and music. It’s a place devoted to retreating inward where exploration, introspection, and self awareness are encouraged for the purpose of growth.
The ‘wormbone’ bit stems from an adjective that a close friend of mine coined while describing the visual style of artwork I had been developing. I liked the term so much that I ran with it. Here are a few wormbone images:
Q: Sound packs . . . what the bejeezus are they anyway, and why should I use them in my own music?
A: Lots of people (even many musicians) ask me this question. I usually have to fumble through trying to describe it simply because I haven’t found an efficient way to explain it in layman’s terms yet. But the answer becomes obvious when you understand just how powerful modern music software has become. In programs like Logic, Ableton Live, FL Studio, Pro Tools, Sony Acid, etc, a recorded sound or musical phrase is completely elastic and can be manipulated as if it were sculptor’s clay. Therefore sound packs provide ready-made raw material that can be used in the creation of new original works. Or if a sound pack user likes a particular sound enough, they might choose to simply employ it in their song as-is, in the same way that a preset on a synthesizer might happen to match the exact sound you’re wanting to hear. Sometimes a sound may even trigger inspiration for a new song. More on this topic here.
Q: With all the power of modern musical software, why then is it important which sample pack(s) I use? Can’t I just create all my own sounds from scratch?
A: Yes, however it’s a helluva lot of work to do and requires a ridiculous amount of time and experience to do it well. An analogy I use to convey the benefits of sound packs is like that of a prep cook in a gourmet restaurant: As a sound pack developer I combine the finest starting ingredients possible into individual musical parts to later be artistically manipulated further. Typically they are distinct melodic/rhythmic/harmonic/textural parts or short ‘one-shot’ percussive hits. They get conceived, programmed and/or performed, and shaped in a similar way that a cook in the kitchen of an upscale dining establishment hands over the beginnings of passionately prepared meals to the master chef for final assembly. I do the initial grunt work so other artists don’t have to. Read more about how the process here.
Of course not everyone has access to a fine collection of exquisite instruments, signal processors, and monitoring equipment like that found in Studio Wormbone’s acoustically tuned environment either. But besides simply owning the gear, getting the best out of it also requires the intimate knowledge of how to utilize the studio itself as an instrument. The Studio WB catalog of sound packs itself is like an audio resume of sorts. The sounds speak for themselves.
Q: So why use Studio Wormbone sound packs as opposed to another brand?
A: A thousand variables go into the creation of each sound pack product. Besides the obvious quality of the equipment and software the sounds are sourced from (not to mention the expertise required to make that particular assortment of machines ‘sing’) there is an overall philosophy of approach that governs many of the defining decisions. There’s also a methodology that gets refined after years of doing it. Content selection, formatting, tempo and key signature organization, file management, and endless sorting using a process of elimination all prove to be critical steps in the making of a sound pack from start to finish. Intense focus has to be maintained at the same time as multilayer multitasking. At any given time I have roughly fifteen products in various stages of completion. To keep everything in order I rely on a number of highly customized personal templates and above all a keen sense of mental tidiness.
Q: What’s this Studio Wormbone philosophy of approach that you mentioned?
A: Overall the ideology embraces a fluid, organic, non-formulaic approach to sensory stimulation. Electronic music is an expression of our humanity through machines, and therefore doesn’t necessarily need to be rigid or calculator perfect. For instance you’ll find wide stylistic variety and humanistic performance in addition to the elegant programming in our sounds.
Each sound file is not only a unique idea in itself. Users of multiple Studio WB releases will find some sonically related files from the same recording session in different category folders within each title, as well as within other sound packs. In other words a gentle drone in an ambient pack for instance might have a complimentary melodic synth loop within the same pack using a slight variation of the same custom synth patch. There could also be some short one shot hits using the same sound with a different amplitude envelope in an electro percussion pack. This ‘spreading around’ of sonic themes promotes continuity and inter compatibility within the Studio WB catalog and broadens a unified color palette for return customers.
Developing a large number of products simultaneously also encourages the freedom to follow a creative muse or whim when unexpected inspiration occurs while recording new content. If an interesting idea pops up, regardless of it’s category, once it’s captured there will most likely already be an unfinished sound pack that the new sound fits nicely into. Hence there’s very little ‘steering’ of the creative process. It’s allowed to flow when and where it wants to.
Electronic music should also sound alive. This is a major contributing factor in the propensity for wide stereo field diversity, and long evolving and irregularly asymmetrical modulations. This results in occasionally longer than normal loop lengths and/or odd numbers of musical bars. It also motivates the selection of boutique analog and tube (valve) gear, chosen because of it’s warmly inviting non-linear idiosyncrasies.
Ultimately all of these variables add up to a sense of aesthetic taste when it comes right down to it. That’s the Wormbone difference. (wink!)