No doubt the Roland 808 drum machine for me as for many other music producers features the most essential drum sounds for modern music production. Being simple the drum samples demand to get layered with other sounds. While travelling I realised I always had my favorite 808 sounds with me. I started adding/stacking sounds on top of these 808 sounds to create something new and hopefully give back to the community. In October 2015 the idea of the Yosemite Drum Kit was born. I travelled to the national park with a mission: Searching for sound and capturing the parks’ spirit!
As I arrived at Yosemite National Park my first experience - beside the breathtaking landscape - was total quiet. After a couple of hectic and noisy days in San Francisco the contrast could not be bigger. After a short night at a cabin at June Lake located at the east gate I was entering the National Park driving on Tioga Pass. Arriving at 10,000 ft I went on a short hike to get familiar with the area. As I was hiking on a beautiful trail to the nearby located Tuolumne meadows the initial silence faded into a mesmerising collage of soft and gentle sounds. During other field recordings I had to deal with passing cars, airplanes and other disturbing noises. At Yosemite the sound was pure.
Driving down to Lake Tenaya I was catching ambience sounds as well as coincidental bird calls.
Overwhelmed by the numerous opportunities I started to record several water drops, dry leafs, stone hits and scratches or whatever was falling into my hands.
As a music producer I’m working a lot with dry drum samples. Searching for sound at Yosemite the main focus was not just capturing the sound itself - but also the natural ambiences. Surrounded by huge rock formations recording natural echo was at ease! One of these places has been at e.g. Tunnel view.
At the end of the trip I was skipping through the samples realising that the unique characteristics of the sounds do not come from the source itself, as the original sound sources (stone & wood hits, water drops, etc.) could be recorded anywhere else.
It was the spirit and environment of the National Park that sparked the creativity for a certain sound design.
I left Yosemite National Park knowing that I had captured at least a little piece of the parks’ spirit.
Link to the kit: ProducersOnTheRun Vol. I: Yosemite Drum Kit
Photo edits: Philipp Levinger