Annie’s Clock

A unique instrument created from a ticking clock....

The story

It all started in December of 2017, when a choir member gave me a clock. I’d started conducting a community choir that year, the previous conductor having moved to the other side of the country.

I’m not sure quite why Annie – the choir member – decided to give me a clock a few weeks later during the preparation for the group’s Christmas Eve concert: I suspect it was either a gift with the subtext of ‘I’ve really enjoyed singing in the choir this year’, or a subtle hint for me to start and finish rehearsals on time.

Fast forward to 2020, and I’m looking into making my own samples, having been inspired by the Pianobook website and Christian Henson’s videos. In this time I haven’t really used the clock, having a perfectly good digital one, one that doesn’t make loud ticking noises at 60bpm.

The logical thing to do, therefore, was to get the clock up and running – so a few AA batteries later I recorded the ticks and tacks (it doesn’t really go ‘tock’) with a stereo pair of KM184 microphones into a Zoom F8n recorder.

The audio was then noise reduced (thanks to iZotope RX7), and chopped up. I noticed some resonant frequencies, so put a filter on to emphasise those – they were A3 for the ‘tacks’ and E2 for the ‘ticks’. Following some experimenting with reverbs and other bits and pieces, I came up with a three-layer sample spanning the entire keyboard. On the shorts, this translates to three velocity layers, and on the longs the mod wheel crossfades between each layer.


Leave a review to let others know what you thought of the instrument!

  • Good for wind-like drones but I'm not sure what else...

    What an interesting sound to have made out of a clock! However I'm not entirely sure how usable this will be in a compositional or even sound design setting, for me at least. I'm not a fan over stretched sample mapping. But I'm well aware that since the source sound came from a clock I doubt there was any way round that. Good Effort!

    R.Treves18 October 2021
  • Good concept, needs some work

    I loved the concept and I wanted this to work, but the end result doesn't feel usable. The main problem for me is that due to the stretching of the samples, the wetness differs greatly between the low and the high ranges because the reverb is pre-applied on them, therefore it's too short high and too long low. Another problem is that the velocity is way too random, resulting in a very unbalanced sound overall that it's not even programmable.

    Alex Raptakis17 October 2021
  • Pensive Sound

    Meditative. Pensive. Thoughtful. Those are the words that come to mind when I hear this sound. Sounds incredible. Just make sure you stay in time. LOL. Enjoy!

    dafingaz13 October 2021
  • Deep Space Time Keeper Tolls the Bell

    The name of this instrument blindsides the potential player. Tentatively touch the timepiece, explore the Splosh and Longs controls and head into the heart of the sun. Psychedelia in the everyday, bravo Buffa

    Consterdine12 October 2021