Forums > MaxMSP

Alien Weapon

March 18, 2013 | 3:11 pm

Hey guys,

Not been on in a while, so be good to get exchanging ideas again

I am about to start a project on Procedural Audio, and I will be making alien weapons in Max/msp without the need for audio files.

So does anybody have any ideas how I should go about making an alien weapon sound? Maybe someone knows of a particular synth?

All the best


March 18, 2013 | 3:38 pm

Well first of all who has ever heard the sound of an alien weapon? ;-)

But seriously there’s going to be some inherent creativity involved with creating the sounds of things that don’t exist. What I would do is listen to some sounds from games that have aliens and hear what kind of sound design they’ve got going on. The Halo franchise comes to mind.

Also, Andy Farnell’s book "Designing Sound" is all about creating procedural audio sound effects using Pd. I don’t have it in front of me at the moment to see if he has a section on aline weapons.

March 18, 2013 | 4:14 pm

I suggest a forum search for Drum Synthesis as a starting point for your Alien gun SFX…

Obviously these would create some old school sounding alien zaps but you didn’t go into much detail on how contemporary you want your alien gun sfx to be.

March 18, 2013 | 9:32 pm

hehe, "contemporary alien gun sfx".

I’d approach this like any other sound design task: Break it down into component parts and a nice solid backstory. Invent an alien overlord race – what would their tech be?

March 18, 2013 | 11:51 pm

You can get some really wild sounds by combining sig~ rate and gizmo~, both at opposite extremes (really fast but transposed way low, or vice versa). If you don’t want to use previous audio files, maybe draw some buffers using waveform~ to start. Some long, draw-out ones might be good for "alien gun reverb" ;)

March 19, 2013 | 12:43 pm

start with old school– envelope modulated freq with filtered noise:
(hours of fun)

— Pasted Max Patch, click to expand. —
March 19, 2013 | 3:39 pm

Thanks Terry – really enjoyed that!

For procedural stuff like this it’s also a good idea to use [random] or [noise~] to add minor changes to pitch and modulation for each shot. This mimics some of the natural fluctuations of real-world objects.

March 19, 2013 | 6:55 pm

I read somewhere that in its latter years one of the Radiophonic Workshop’s ‘secret weapons’ was a Yamaha TX816, so FM might be a good place to start.
Start with the Simple FM patch and make it less simple, or for inspiration have a look at the X.FM patch in the Examples/Synths,

March 20, 2013 | 1:42 pm

Cheers guys, plenty to think about and research!

I have farnells book yes, but having a couple of issues transposing his pd files into max files.

I have been considering making an FM Synth to generate the sounds, with the inclusion of [random]/[noise~]

Thanks again for the help, will keep you posted


March 24, 2013 | 12:34 am

The synth produces some great sounds, but is there no simpler way of producing these sounds?



March 24, 2013 | 9:43 pm

just for sh*ts and giggles:

— Pasted Max Patch, click to expand. —


March 25, 2013 | 11:40 pm
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Forums > MaxMSP