How do you create a nice shaker patch? Well, that is a question for the ages. We start with a certain amount of gray noise. Some oscillators have noise as a waveform, and with others you need to create it with frequency modulation, raising the amplitude of the modulator enough so that it amplifies the frequency, which should be set at a pitch that fits the spectrum of the shaker you are going to create. Once you have some noise, send it through an envelope with the descension and final part of the envelope after lifting the key set at the amount you want the shaker to last, while modulating the ascension with velocity so that low velocities create a slow rise of noise and fast velocities create a shorter amount of noise. You can also set the velocity to affect the volume of the patch and even the frequency of the oscillator and filter. You can create interesting shaker patterns when you utilise a step sequencer to modulate the shaker patch, selecting the notes of the measure you need the shaker to sound at. If the step sequencer has a velocity level control for each note, you can raise the velocity for shorter amounts of gray noise to emphasise a note, while lowering the velocity for notes that you need to sound quieter with longer envelopes. 

We have an example of utilising this kind of shaker patch for two shakers, creating the sound of a native wooden eagle rattle in the left speaker and whispers in the right speaker with echoes panning to the left, in an “Alder Ensemble” song, “Earth Whispers”. You can find the entire Alder Ensemble website and links to our CDbaby album “The Balance of Nature” at www.alderensemble.com.

Alder Ensemble "The Earth Whispers"

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