I'm trying to figure out how the instrumentation of a particular section of music.

The piece is from the video game Halo 3 titled Sierra 117: Released/Wild Life/Another Walk by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori. I'm interested in the beginning of the middle section which (I'm guessing) is called Wild Life (starts at 2:32 in the linked video).

The instruments I can pick out are:

  • Cello/Bass
  • Bass drum
  • Some other drum, maybe snare?
  • Tambourine/Cymbals/Sleigh bells?
  • Some sort of impact crash?
  • Triangle/Someone striking a music stand with a metal bar at 2:54?

The percussive instruments are the ones I'm having trouble identifying, particularly the metallic-sounding ones. Maybe they are prepared or aren't your everyday instrument. I'm curious to know how these sounds are made!

  • Could be a washboard in there at the end? That would be an impressive mix! Or maybe strumming on a guitar with muted strings..
    – Tom
    Oct 22, 2020 at 6:18
  • 1
    I’m voting to close this question because it's off-topic here What topics can I ask about here?, but on-topic for Music Fans.
    – Aaron
    Oct 22, 2020 at 6:33
  • I’m very confident they are samples from one or more libraries of non-western and/or found object percussion. There are so many samples in the world that it really doesn’t make much sense trying to track them down. It could be the samples were made by the composer. I myself sampled struck rebar and cinder block for a composition a few years ago. Better to analyze the type of sounds you’re hearing and think about how you would use similar sounds and resist the urge to enter the bottomless pit of trying to find the exact samples. Oct 22, 2020 at 15:23
  • Thanks for the feedback. I'm content with just general ideas of how to produce these sounds, not the exact samples themselves. Some of the sounds are so foreign though it's difficult for me to describe let alone experiment how to create it. Percussion isn't my expertise, and I also wanted to make sure it wasn't a "common" technique like raking/bowing a gong or something like that. I know percussionists have been asked to do some really strange things in some compositions, and just wanted to run it by someone with an ear for it to see if it rang any bells (pun intended).
    – Nullus Aurēs
    Oct 22, 2020 at 17:12
  • This one may actually be better suited for our Sound Design site - I'll migrate it there as it isn't on topic here.
    – Rory Alsop
    Oct 22, 2020 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


What is that instrument?

These type of instruments are called Sculptural Percussions.

They are non-standard percussion instruments mostly crafted using (but not limited to) hardware tools and home made objects.

or in percussionist Chas Smith's words -

"all the instruments have to be made out of junk, surplus and stuff leftover from jobs...that's the rule!"

Hans Zimmer uses this borderline sound-design elements in his scores a lot. This one behind-the-scene video from movie 'Man of Steel' has some amazing examples.

Another name for such percussions is Industrial Instruments - a name more commonly used in sample libraries.

How to make it? (opinion)

Layering is the name of the game. One way to create an 'Industrial Drum' like the one in the link is by combining sculpted sounds with standard big drums like Taiko etc. thus creating a 'fuller' sound (encompassing the full spectrum).

  • Sculpted Sounds - mids and highs
  • Rim Shots - mids
  • Big Drums - lows

Very short delays to give an echo feel (as if played in a hall) and reverb to enhance it.

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