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I read a lot of questions along the lines of, “What is your favorite plugin for doing [insert sound here]?”, and would like to start a discussion about ways to accomplish the same thing, sans plug-ins.

These sounds can be almost anything, including whooshes, “spells”, reverbs, electricity, futzes, and many more. These are also all sounds that can created with a microphone, a prop, and a little experimentation. Is it reasonable to think that we in our profession have become too plugin-reliant? What does it mean that everyone can and does go out to buy the same piece of software to create similar sounds? I personally worry that we may devalue our potential creative contribution by reliance upon such tools, but then I, too, run out to acquire them to “because they’re so cool.”

Would you still be able to to do your job if you had no plugins? Would you be able to reasonably utilize a reverb chamber? What if all you had to create whooshes was some fishing line and some kitchen tools? Have you ever cranked a wind machine or made a thunder drum? How many coil springs do you own? Have you ever made a plate reverb or spring reverb? Could you squash dynamic range by bouncing sounds off of tape? Have you ever recorded to tape? Could you create doppler by swinging a cheap (or expensive if you’re crazy) speaker past a stationary mic (or just finding Leslie)?

I’ll start: One of my favorite games to play is “Will it whoosh?” The basic idea is a riff off the old “Will blend” and “Will it shred” series of youtube videos that featured industrial shredding companies putting increasingly more “indestructible” items into their giant shredders. Mayhem ensued.

My game is to put things on fishing line to see what it sounds like. Usually I use heavy multi-braid ocean line that can hold up a lot of weight, but lately I’ve been playing with really light objects and have found monofilament to be of more use. Over time, as I’ve put a stranger and wider variety of objects on string I’ve learned to predict what the result will be. Sometimes I’m still surprised. The latest thing to catch my fancy is a goose feather: https://youtu.be/3ofR64387YM

I’ll apologize for the crappy camera audio, but the idea still comes across.