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.

Reviews for Annie’s Clock

  • Sound
  • Character
  • Playability
  • Inspiration
  • GUI

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

  • 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
  • The built-in reverb creates limitations

    I loved the concept and I wanted this to work, but I personally couldn't get an idea of how this can be used. But you might, because the sound itself it's pretty for sure. For me, the issue 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. A good wayto deal with that is to stick to a smaller range when it comes to a building a melody. You might also find some volume inconsistencies that you might want to find a way to deal with.

    Alex Raptakis28 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
  • As the minutes tick away...

    I really like this sound. It's actually two sounds, shorts and longs, which you can balance using the faders in the well-designed and stylish GUI. I found the shorts to be much more playable and useful than the longs, but YMMV. I love the reverb control in the GUI to allow you to easily turn down the verb. I really don't like the fact that in addition to that verb, there's permanently applied verb on the short samples. That really limits where you can use these sounds. It's unfortunate because if it wasn't for that, this would be a nearly perfect plucky sound with many many uses. As it is, it's a bit more limited. Maybe a dry version could be added later?

    Sam Ecoff30 October 2021
  • Nice in the mids with some limitations

    This instrument is an interesting kind of tonal percussion sound. Personally i much prefer it in the mid range. The attack of the recording is really interesting and foley like and the tone is cool. Im less into it in the high ens because the samples speed up which stretches them. Both ways of stretching produce artifacts but i agree with christian henson and many other that tuning samples down always sounds better. As mentioned by other its kind of a bummer that there is reverb baked into the samples, Especially since there is reverb in the GUI. If you're gonna give us control in the reverb in the GUI, you should give us a dry sound to start off with. Apart from that i still really like the sound of the in the mid range

    septemberwalk11 November 2021
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