I am in continual awe at the huge and mysterious nature of the cosmos. When Ableton Live 10.1 let you add custom wavetables I had the idea of using celestial sounds as wavetables. But before I get started, let me answer the question of how there is sound in space.
NASA released a collection of sounds and said this:
Some spacecraft have instruments capable of capturing radio emissions. When scientists convert these to sound waves, the results are eerie to hear.
In other words, these sounds are either radio wave transmissions or other radiation. They are then translated or processed into sound for human hearing. I went through the Public NASA Sound Library, European Space Agency Library, and a collection of recordings by Don Gurnett at the University of Iowa. These sounds make awesome textural pads or layers for your music. There is nothing like playing with the sounds of the universe.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at how you can use them with Live’s 10.1 Wavetable Synth.
MAKING SAMPLES INTO CUSTOM WAVETABLES
Live announced the ability to add custom wavetables in Live 10.1 update. I thought it was going to be an incredibly complex process but they surprised. It is actually really easy to use samples as custom wavetables. All you have to do is drag and drop a sample. Yeap… that is it.
The audio file can be dragged from the Browser, from a clip slot in the set, or directly from anywhere on your computer.
Wavetable reads the first few seconds (up to 256 wavetables) from the file. Each wavetable is a 1024 sample. In other words, it chops up the sound into 256 splices each being 1024 samples each. It does this all automatically so you don’t have to start thinking about all the math to prepare the file. It’s incredibly smooth and easy to do.
If you want to learn more about making custom wavetables, check out this article. I had to learn how to make my own 1024 sample wavetables the hard way. This was before Live let you drag and drop samples.
SOUNDS FROM SPACE WAVETABLE PRESETS
Once I realized I could use any sound I wanted, an idea popped in my mind. A few years back I heard sounds from the Nasa Soundlibrary and I decided I wanted to turn them into wavetables. I collected a bunch of sounds and started experimenting. I found the best collection of samples to use with Ableton Live’s Wavetable. I was then playing with the sound of stars. Here is a walkthrough video:
The presets and samples are free / by donation with the link below.
When you open the live set you can play with the Presets I created, or drag and drop the samples on the first track into a new wavetable to make your own.
CREATIVE POTENTIAL WITH WAVETABLE
Adding custom Wavetable’s with Live 10.1 opens up a whole world of creativity. You can record your own voice and make it a synth, or you can take field recordings… you name it. If you have found a cool technique, I would love to hear about it. Comment below with any links to videos using custom wavetables, or tricks that you have discovered.
I have tons of articles and videos on how to make sounds using Wavetable. If you want to level up your synthesis chops check out the Wavetable category of my blog.