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Music

How to Create a Spooky Half-Life Monster Sound

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:

If you ever played a game like Half-Life without sound you will acknowledge this: the scare factor comes, at least in large part, from the sound effects. Monsters don’t really seem dangerous if they don’t make a scary sound.

Close the curtains and inform the neighbors, because in this tutorial we will transform your own voice into a monster you never thought you had inside you!

Thumbnail image by shanewarne_60000.

Step 1: Recording Your Voice

First, fire up Logic Pro. Record your voice making some screams and squeaks into a microphone. Try to make it sound something like the examples, but almost anything will do. If you can’t record your voice, try to get some samples from the Internet or use my voice.

Use ‘Strip Silence’ to cut the different screams. Set threshold to the right percentage until you see that your screams are cut away from the rest of the audio. Click OK and remove the rest of the audio around the screams, if there is any left.

Select all your audio and right-click on one of them. Click on ‘Convert to New Audio File(s)’ and call them “Screams”. You will see the names of your audio files change to Screams, Screams #1 and so on. (If you wish to change these names press Esc and 4 to get the text tool. Click on each scream and name them what you want. Press Esc and 1 to go back to your normal cursor.)

Step 2: Using the EXS24

Now you have your audio screams chopped up and ready to go, we’re going to get one of them into the EXS24. While there already are many tuts about this, I will explain this process shortly. Open a new software instrument track for your EXS24. Click on edit in the upper right corner of the EXS24 which will open the Instrument Editor.

Click on ‘Zone’ to open a menu, then click ‘Load Multiple Samples’. Click on one of your screams and press ‘Add’ and then ‘Done’.

After this Logic will ask you where to put the note on the keyboard. Normally you would put the sample on one single note, but in this case we want the scream to be on every single note possible. In order to do so select “Auto-map” to get the scream widely spread on the keyboard.

Click on Instrument and “Save” and call this sampler “Half-Life.” Close EXS24.

Step 3: Creating the Monster

You’ve got your voice samples and have put them in the EXS24 sampler on every key, so now it’s time to get the monsters out of your speakers. Press Command 6 to get the piano roll out.

You can press any key on the virtual keyboard on your screen to hear the sound of your voice. You will probably notice some strange sounds. On the C3 key you will find your original voice, but if you move higher you will start to sound like a little baby. That’s cool for a trick, but we want the monster inside of you to come out! The more interesting parts of this piano roll are the keys below C3, where you will find your voice processed much lower than your original voice. This is where the fun starts. Press Esc 2 to get your pencil tool out of the box and start drawing some lines below C3.

You will now hear a creaking monster waiting for his dinner.

Step 4: Scaring the Neighbors

Once you’ve got the hang of this it’s time get the neighbors to call the cops. “There are monsters in the house next to us!” Get your other screams and creaks into another EXS24 and combine them. Every scream you have made will sound like something else once you’ve processed it with your sampler. You can drag your MIDI file up to get instant results, or make new ones on the track to make them more unique.

At this stage your imagination is your most deadly weapon. Go wild drawing in notes and the darkest creatures will come out. Start panning channels left and right to get you monster sound bigger and bigger. Don’t turn off the lights because you’ll end up in an institute.

Here’s the creature I created:

Step 5: Adding Effects

From this point on you’ve got your own army of monsters backing you up. But the fun doesn’t end here! You can add all sorts of effects, which will make your monsters even scarier. There are no rules on which effects you should use, but try some reverb, phaser or distortion on your outputs. Try other effects as well, start experimenting!

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