Asbjoern Andersen


For his latest sound effects libraries, independent field recordist Thomas Rex Beverly spent a huge amount of time experimenting with rock sounds - the result? A large selection of rich sounds of rocks and stone, including recordings that are surprisingly effective for creature vocalizations. Here's how he made those rocks 'talk', and what the results sound like:
Written by Thomas Rex Beverly. Images courtesy of Thomas Rex Beverly.
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My most recent sound library series focuses on capturing a broad spectrum of rock sounds from mimicking animal calls to recording tumultuous rock impacts. These two new libraries complement the chime-like resonance in my previous Ringing Rock collection.

WHAT ROCKS MAKE CREATURE VOCALIZATIONS?

It took insane amounts of experimentation to find evocative sounds from the rocks I had collected for this sound library. I’ve done several sound design libraries thus far, but this library took the most trial and error to date. For comparison, I kept about 50% of the material I recorded for Bowed Cactus, but I only ended up keeping about 5% of the rock material I recorded for Rock Creatures.

5 differently-shaped rocks

After much experimentation, I had an epiphany when I discovered I could create a resonating chamber by placing two thin concave and convex rocks together! Then, I scraped a third rock against the chamber and instantly discovered interesting harmonics and formant sounds. Many of the rock “creature” sounds were born from the perfect 5 rocks you see above. If you look carefully, you can see the concave section in the top left rock and the convex section on the bottom of the top right rock. Once I had the right “rock instrument” built, the perfect sound was in the performance. Hear the concave/convex resonating chamber performed in the short video below.

HOW IT’S MADE VIDEO:

Video Thumbnail

I used a variety of rocks and minerals to make sounds that range from guttural boulder groans to elephant-like roars to quartz crystal chalkboard-like screeches. Hear the full variety of rock “creatures” I created in the demo below.

Various types of rocks

Fruits of the labour:

Here are some of the rock libraries captured by Thomas Rex Beverly:

  • Rock / Stone Falling Rock Play Track 109+ sounds included, 9 mins total $39

    • In Falling Rock, get a impactful collection of resonant rockfalls made from the volcanic rocks of the Davis Mountains. Throw hulking rocks down narrow ravines and hear clattering impacts with intense, extended energy. Hear miniature echoes of small stones pinging and gunshot-like reverberations from boulders thrown from clifftops. Hear the thick weight of boulders smashing and symphonies of rock careening down canyons.
    • This library offers you an extensive collection of rocks, thrown with great effort, from lofty desert clifftops and down bottomless, echo-filled gullies.

    2% FOR THE ENVIRONMENT:
    • Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause, as an “artist royalty” for the planet!

    KEY FEATURES:
    • Boulders thrown from clifftops
    • Boulders thrown down narrow rocky canyons
    • Small, mid-size, and large volcanic rocks
    • 109 impacts
    • Most impacts have extended tails (of 4 to 10 seconds) as shattered bits careen down cliff sides and canyons
    • The pitch shifted demo is the normal demo at half speed. 
    • Please note: the “Pitch Shifted Demo” was made to demonstrate the potential of the sounds in this library. However, Falling Rock does NOT include pitch shifted sounds, only mastered field recordings.

    TEXT MARKERS:
    •Named markers are included in each file to help find interesting events in files with multiple variations.
    •Markers are included in the Soundminer and BWAV description fields starting with the prefix “Marker Text”.
    BLOG POST:
    • Read the full story here: “Why Rock Rock for Creature Sound Design” 
    FILE LIST & METADATA:
    • View larger version or Download CSV.
    MORE INFO:
    • Read 40+ user reviews for Thomas Rex Beverly Audio
    • Read my Field Recording Mastering Rules and learn more about how these recordings were mastered.
    • Browse the Library Info Master List to compare specs on all my libraries.
    • Browse the Metadata Master List to search my entire catalog.
    • MD5 and SHA 256 Checksums are included for each zip file in my catalog. Use these hashes to check the integrity of your downloaded files. 
    GEAR USED:
    •Sennheiser MKH 8040 Matched Pair in ORTF
    •Sound Devices 702
    •Rycote ORTF Blimp
    Add to cart
  • Rock / Stone Ringing Rocks Play Track 500+ sounds included, 27 mins total $79

    Ringing Rocks has the chiming, beautiful tones of an ancient boulder field. As hammers strike stone, the powerful clangs resonate like church bells and bring to life a natural sonic wonder. Plus, you receive many types of melodic tones, hammering rhythms, grinding metallic stone, resonant scrapes, and much more. If you need rocks unlike any you’ve heard before, listen to Ringing Rocks.

    2% for the Planet:
    Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause. I view it as an “artist royalty” for the planet!

    Key Features:
    • Featured on Designing Sound: “Our Favorite Sounds of 2016
    • 237 files, 500+ natural chime and bell-like rock sounds
    • Captured in 192 kHz for exquisite detail and sound designing potential
    • Location: Near Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania
    • A small hammer, medium sledgehammer, and crowbar were used to create a variety of timbres
    • Audio files with single rock strikes alone
    • Audio files with many sequential, varying strikes
    • Resonant scraping of hammers on rock for tactile textures that are perfect source material for rich metallic drones
    How It’s Made
    Read the full story of these mysterious rocks on the – A Sound Effect Blog!
    Gear Used:
    Sennheiser MKH 50/30 MS pair
    Mid/Side recordings decoded to LR stereo
    Sound Devices 702
    Rycote AG MS Blimp
    Add to cart
  • Rock / Stone Rock Creatures Play Track 900+ sounds included, 39 mins total $79

    • In Rock Creatures, get a visceral collection of guttural and grating vocalizations from the volcanic rocks of the Davis Mountains. Scrape rhyolite with intense pressure and hear guttural screeches with vigorous, physical energy. Hear the thick weight of boulders growling and frenetic stutters of rocks performed to sound like animals. Hear textured squeaks of small stones sliding. Hear rocks rich in titanium clattering to create otherworldly harmonics perfect for creature sound design.
    • This library offers you an extensive collection of rocks painstakingly performed to bring these inanimate objects to life and transform them into intensely vocal creatures.

    2% FOR THE ENVIRONMENT:
    • Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause, as an “artist royalty” for the planet!

    KEY FEATURES:
    • Rocks performed to sound like creature vocalizations
    • Resonant scrapes with shifting harmonics
    • Small, mid-sized, and large rocks
    • Thick grating boulders sliding
    • Squeaking scrapes
    • Titanium rocks rattling and clacking
    • Scraping, grinding, and rasping stones
    • Types of rocks/minerals: rhyolite, quartz, and in unidentified rock I marked as “titanium rock” in the metadata due to its high rating on the Moh’s Hardness Scale.
    • Combine these rock vocalizations with the massive impacts in SD10 Falling Rock or the resonance of SD02 Ringing Rocks for infinite creative possibilities.
    • The pitch shifted demo was made from excerpts of the normal demo at half speed. 
    • Please note: the “Pitch Shifted Demo” was made to demonstrate the potential of the sounds in this library. However, Rock Creatures does NOT include pitch shifted sounds, only mastered field recordings.
    TEXT MARKERS:
    •Named markers are included in each file to help find interesting events in files with multiple variations.
    •Markers are included in the Soundminer and BWAV description fields starting with the prefix “Marker Text”.
    BLOG POST:
    • Read the full story here: “Why Rock Rock for Creature Sound Design” 
    FILE LIST & METADATA:
    View larger version or Download CSV.
    MORE INFO:
    • Read 40+ user reviews for Thomas Rex Beverly Audio
    • Read my Field Recording Mastering Rules and learn more about how these recordings were mastered.
    • Browse the Library Info Master List to compare specs on all my libraries.
    • Browse the Metadata Master List to search my entire catalog.
    • MD5 and SHA 256 Checksums are included for each zip file in my catalog. Use these hashes to check the integrity of your downloaded files. 
    GEAR USED:
    •Sennheiser MKH 50 and 30 in Mid/Side
    •Sound Devices 702
    •Rycote MS Blimp
    Add to cart

Discover more sound effects from Thomas Rex Beverly here

A large boulder sits on the side of a cliff with the title Falling Rock

WHAT ROCKS MAKE THE BEST FALLING SOUNDS?

I recorded the best falling rock sounds in the resonant echo chamber of a narrow canyon in West Texas. When I threw the first 50-pound rock down the canyon, I experienced genuine childlike joy. That first rock shattered into tens of pieces and ricocheted down the canyon with a full ten second decay. It was a phenomenal sound and I felt like I was a 10-year-old boy again, innocently smashing things to make cool sounds. I couldn’t believe I get paid to do this! In that moment, I felt so fortunate that my recording work leads me to such interesting adventures.

A mic on a stand sits next to a recording area for smashing rocks

RECORDING CHALLENGES:

For this sound library series, I was lucky to have access to private property with an ample supply of volcanic rock (mostly rhyolite) and several places where I could safely send massive boulders careening down rocky canyons and shattering from clifftop falls.

The biggest challenge was that it took many hours to move the rocks into the staging areas. My body also had to adjust to the elevation changes because I was recording at an elevation of 6,000 feet. Most rocks I was throwing into the canyon were between 50 to 100 pounds and a few were 200-500 boulders I was able to slide or use leverage to launch off clifftops. In short, it was quite the field recording workout. It took me several days of moving rocks and then waiting for perfect recording conditions without wind before recording the sounds in this collection.

My favorite impacts were when the rock completely shattered and the debris went careening down the mountain for upwards of 10 seconds!

A man throws large heavy rocks off a platform in the Southwest

Listen to the variety of falling rocks I was able to capture for this library in the full demo:

LESSONS LEARNED:

  1. When trying to create rock creatures, look for thin concave and convex stones that you can put together to create a resonating chamber. Then use a third stone to activate the resonating chamber and you’ll start hearing evocative harmonics and formant sounds.
  2. Research the Mohs Hardness Scale before working with rocks and minerals. If you know the hardness of the rocks you will be using, you won’t waste time with rocks that are too soft to make great scraping sounds. The scale goes from zero (talc) to ten (diamond). The hardest substance I used in this library was quartz, which is rated a seven. I found lots of rock that are great for scraping are in the five to seven range. Read more info on the hardness scale – here.
  3. Listen to recordings of animals calls before and during your recording session. I used elephants, lions, loons, sandhill cranes to name a few. Listen to the recording of the call, then try to recreate it by performing the rocks. This will help you create genuine sounding rock vocalizations.

FIELD RECORDING TIPS:

  • Short, practical field recording advice for beginners to established pros.
  • New tips posted as they are discovered.
  • See five crowd favorites below, or view the full list of 50+ tips on Twitter – here.

Five Crowd Favorites:

FIELD RECORDING BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. You’ll never see a forest in the same way after reading this book. If get excited about nature field recording I highly recommend it. I specifically love the audiobook.
  • The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. Fantastic book about Stoicism and overcoming obstacles. I like to read it while waiting for airplanes that are ruining my nature recordings to fly away :)

THANKS FOR READING

Sound libraries are works of art and I hope you have enjoyed this behind the scenes look into my work. I’ve put a little piece of myself into each recording, and I hope that you love each recording as much as I enjoyed making them.

 

A big thanks to Thomas Rex Beverly for giving us a look at one of his beautiful sound libraries!

 

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