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How to synthesize a human scream?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author How to synthesize a human scream?
Homepage Englisch
I mean ear-piercing old-fashioned female movie scream, Alfred Hitchcock style.

I did it once, ages ago, and was never able to repeat it properly: filter at the edge of self-oscillation, some white noise mixed with waveform (forgot which one), modulation wheel modulating both pitch and filter cutoff. At the moment of wheel-bending I pressed two keys at once by mistake: G and G# or similar interval (it was a polysynth, namely Juno 60). Whoa.

How would you do it in modular environment? How do you do it? Sampling not allowed :-)

Edit: edited title
Savage
If I tried it (and I might now that you brought it up), I'd approach it with formant filtering to get a nice "Ahhhhh!" sound. You could use the formant frequencies of around 550Hz, 900Hz, and 1,400Hz to start. (Dialing in formant frequencies is a bit like tuning multiple carburetors, if you remember what a carburetor is. you kids get off my lawn ) But if you want a nice, high-pitched, female scream, try the frequencies of around 850Hz, 1,200Hz, and 2,000Hz. The nearly (not quite) self-resonating filter would put the shrill edge on it, and the noise would make it ragged like a scream should be. If you made the pitch wheel slide from the frequencies of about 400Hz, 600Hz, and 1,000Hz to that last set above, you could work on a "Oooo-ahhhh!" scream. If you have a formant filter with three ranges, it would be easy to dial in the vowel sound and then add the gravy of the self-res filter and noise to the meat and potatoes of the vowel sound. A VC formant filter or a dual formant filter would allow you to go from one vowel sound to another.

I don't have a 'proper' formant filter, so just patching in my head from formant filtering I've done before using what I have in my rig, I'd probably start with a high pitch from a VCO (or three) and adding the noise into the Linear Frequency inputs of the VCO's to FM in the grating sound. Then I'd split the output one way to get the "ooo" part on the Fixed Filter Bank, and the other way to three parallel SVF's in band-pass mode to get a solid "ahhhh" sound. (I can get formant vowels with the FFB, but I've gotten the best ones using three parallel SVF's as band-pass filters.) Then I'd use the pitch wheel to control a Pan/Fade module to slide between the two. Then I'd run the Pan/Fade output to the Moog-type ladder low-pass to add the high-resonance 'shrill' component, with the signal finally going through a VCA that raises the volume as the vowel goes from "oooo' to "ahhhh".

You've gotten me thinking about it, and I don't have anything major patched up right now. I just might have to give this a shot and see if I can do it anywhere near the way I said. There's probably a maximajillion ways to do it, all better than what I suggested. Hopefully, my suggestion will spark you or someone else with a better idea. But if you have any formant filtering capabilities, I'd definitely start there. Formant filtering is the easiest way to synthesize human vowel sounds.

Unless you want to cheat using samples... hihi I actually have a module called a Scat-Talker that creates vocal phonemes using a Votrax voice synthesis chip that would make it real easy. But there aren't many Scat-Talkers around, and I figure that would be considered 'cheating', too.
Dragonaut
I get some screamy sounds when using feeding back the output of a filter to it's input. Can imagine self oscillation and feedback with a bit of an envelope on the filter would get you close.
D Beau
A self-generative patch of mine once produced a female scream so lifelike I just about shit my pants. I haven't the slightest idea how it happened, as this was back in my early days where I'd just patch everything to everything without much rhyme or reason. The modules I had at the time were Wogglebug, Maths, Ripples, RF Nomad and Morphing Terrarium. Prime suspect would have to be the ring mod out on the 'bug.
Mefistophelees
I once got one by feeding a sawtooth into a granular pitch shifter. I think i might have been sweeping the pitch but I don't remember. I know I didn't expect it!
goom
I recorded these distorted scream sounds a long time ago. They're not female sounding, but it was fun to hear the modular spit out the sounds.

They're pretty loud, so you might lower the volume before playing...

https://sites.google.com/site/synthasaurus/ScreechyScreams.mp3

https://sites.google.com/site/synthasaurus/Scary_Run_short.mp3

There's also a (sort of) scream sound in this patch I made, but it's low in the mix and hard to hear:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_6mBBY9mZk
desolationjones
There's a great old scream patch on Vimeo.

I adapted the technique for 3 Sisters last Halloween:

[s]http://soundcloud.com/romjay/halloween-2017[/s]
cptnal
desolationjones wrote:
There's a great old scream patch on Vimeo.

I adapted the technique for 3 Sisters last Halloween:

[s]http://soundcloud.com/romjay/halloween-2017[/s]


we're not worthy I'm soooo scaring the cats with that tonight!
mousegarden
Check out the album "The End" by Nico, there are some amazing tortured synth screams on that one. I think Brian Eno used a VCS3 set up with lots of feedback.
I got similar results with a valve guitar amp and valve tape recorder, plugging the inputs into the outputs. Valves always give great results when creating stuff like this, but you have to be careful, go carefully.
cptnal, that Vimeo scream is a classic.
dooj88
"...no... no he's not murdering his family.. yeah, it's just that weirdo with his noise machine again..."

post some examples if you figure it out!
z3r01
This might help:



In case the video doesn't show up proper, here's the link: https://vimeo.com/98406385
cptnal
mousegarden wrote:
Check out the album "The End" by Nico, there are some amazing tortured synth screams on that one. I think Brian Eno used a VCS3 set up with lots of feedback.


Good shout. That sound always makes me think of those nature documentaries where there's a group of chimps on a murdering party, out to maim and dismember and eat the flesh of their victims. evil


Reckon that's the kind of thing the OP was after. w00t
dooj88
that video is awesome!
RedLab
Did a pretty convincing one on my Arp Odyssey some time ago. Gotta see if I can recreate it. Didn't sound like screaming until I pressed the pitch up button (yep, those dreaded rubber ones) but then it for sure did
kcd06
Quote:
I actually have a module called a Scat-Talker that creates vocal phonemes using a Votrax voice synthesis chip


I was going to suggest this, but you beat me to it. Another source could be the Korg Miku pedal; out of production, but only recently as of this writing. That thru a ring modulator or other distortion, then into a VC amplifier controlled by your favorite complex envelope generator.
Homepage Englisch
D Beau wrote:
A self-generative patch of mine once produced a female scream so lifelike I just about shit my pants. I haven't the slightest idea how it happened, as this was back in my early days where I'd just patch everything to everything without much rhyme or reason. The modules I had at the time were Wogglebug, Maths, Ripples, RF Nomad and Morphing Terrarium. Prime suspect would have to be the ring mod out on the 'bug.


Oh yeah, those beautiful moments of randomness!

I had once something resembling a scream turning into demonic laughter which slowly morphed into locomotive chugging...and that was before my modular adventure, just Tascam Portastudio feedback loop...
Dilibob
z3r01 wrote:
This might help:

In case the video doesn't show up proper, here's the link: https://vimeo.com/98406385
That's excellent, can anyone translate that to 5u or is this something that is euro only?
oberdada
Presumaby the voice synthesis program Praat would be able to scream if you know what numbers to set its parameters to. But that is not trivial.
addendum
Add clipping and/ or FM and/ or subharmonics. Adding a low (as in approaching subsonic) frequency element is key. The usual formants are not enough. You need to emulate that heightened and somewhat chaotic friction that distinguishes screaming from loud calling or singing.
corgi
Feeding back your filters (more than one) with filter tracking is pretty nice because you can play the scream up and down the keyboard..
loachhat
desolationjones wrote:
There's a great old scream patch on Vimeo.

I adapted the technique for 3 Sisters last Halloween:

[s]http://soundcloud.com/romjay/halloween-2017[/s]

Do you recall any patch notes?

I'm gonna give it a try, I have a 3 Sisters but none of those particular MN modules, though I guess the principle should be the same.
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