does anyone here know how to simulate a long swinging of a blade? You know that high pitched sound you get when you have hit a metal. It does not seem to be a simple sinus tone. There seems to be some kind of modulation going on.



It sounds like you're looking for the metal ring off of the sword after it is unsheathed. It's usually performed as foley, but can be sweetened with some library effects.

Basically you'll need two pieces of metal, the first is long and dense enough to give you the length and heft of the scrape you're looking for. The second is smaller in order to achieve that higher frequency. You want something that is easy to handle, yet large enough to ring loud and long.

Check out this video on Gary Becker. At around :30, and again @ 3:10 he performs exactly the sound I think you're looking for.

You'll see that he has an actual sword, this contributes to the length and heft of the scrape (an actual sword isn't necessary, I've used wrought iron, angle iron, scrap metal, etc. again you want about 1m long and dense). And a kitchen spatula, (small, light, highly resonant) that he scrapes along the sword's edge and points towards the mic.

Try short aggressive scrapes, long fluid scrapes, whatever is appropriate. You can then wave the spatula around to modulate the ring according to picture.

Hope that helps.

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  • Thanks very much! Excellent advise and good video. Still to make it sing for a couple of seconds, foley may not be enough. – Sound1844 Jan 10 '13 at 11:26
  • True, if you're looking for a couple seconds I really like Tim's suggestion of the Tibetan bowls/bells. That should offer you tons of sustain. – Steve Urban Jan 10 '13 at 17:47

For THE WARRIORS WAY I mostly used a Tibetan singing bowl and a pair of those small Tibetan Timsha bells - the latter are very interesting as you can set up beating between the two bells and they are easy to move and perform dopplers, which is far more complex and controllable in the real world than via plugins....

See this video for how you excite/create continuous tones from a singing bowl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpw53tN6h8E

& the pair of Timsha Bells: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UDdyG7iB4o

Also worth trying spectral based time expansion with these as the beating is hypnotic when the rhythm is slowed down but pitch remains the same....

We also got some spring steel swords from WETA and suspended them on string & hit them - they resonated like crazy but the dopplers from them was very useful too

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  • That is very interesting. That way you can actually control the length of the singing. Don't have Tibetan singing bowls though :-). But now that you mention it I can remember someone creating a similar singing sound by stimulating a half full wine glas in a pub years ago. Maybe that is the solution. – Sound1844 Jan 10 '13 at 11:30

Do you mean the swish or the actual clang? For the clang after a hit you might try a fast vibrato that slows down? not sure without knowing which part you're talking about.

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  • I mean the singing, when you pull a sword out of the sheath it sings on at a high frequency. Unfortunately real blades only seem to do that for a small moment. I just saw the Hobbit and there is one scene where an Ork pulls out his sword and raises it into the air and it sings beautifully for a long time. I am pretty sure they must have done this artificially. And now I am about to sound design something similar and I cannot make it sing. – Sound1844 Jan 9 '13 at 17:19

The best luck I've had for the high pitched sing is to hit a metal putty knife with a screwdriver, then cut out the attack and fade in. As for the modulation, a slow tremolo that shifts frequency and not volume could work for you.

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Another idea... I've used a baking sheet to achieve the unsheathing, singing blade effect. Pull it off of a counter, dragging it down across the 90 degree edge of the counter top. Do various takes at different intensities, with your hands positioned differently, and, depending on the baking sheet itself, with some practice you can actually get that thing to sing for you. If nothing else, you'll have a great source to start with that you could then begin processing.

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  • Thanks, will try that too and see what kind of sounds it produces. – Sound1844 Jan 10 '13 at 11:31

Ok, so the singing part. If you have a knife block, you can get part of the unsheathing sound by pulling out of that if performed correctly. Layer that with a butcher knife along the back of something like a baking sheet mentioned above. You can try pots and pans, but thicker pots and pans will not resonate and you will not get a long sing. Don't forget you can compress the sing to hell to get some sustain out of it.

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