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I'm interested in using the wind-like sound heard during the first few seconds of "Seven Devil" by Florence + The Machine, but I have no idea how it's produced. How can I reproduce this sound?

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P.S.: This is not a "practical" question per se, I presume, but it's not a song recommendation either. I believe it's related to musical performance. But close if off-topic, I'll ask elsewhere. :) –  Lazlo Jan 17 '12 at 16:08
    
Per this Meta discussion, "How" should be OK but mere indentification isn't, so I edited the question to emphasize the former. Feel free to participate on Meta if you're interested. –  Matthew Read Jan 17 '12 at 16:44
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Could you provide an excerpt of that part, for those of us who don't know about the song? –  Anthony Labarre Jan 18 '12 at 9:54
    
@AnthonyLabarre I would recommend you search it on YouTube, many videos have the audio track uploaded. –  Lazlo Jan 18 '12 at 15:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

There are two distinctive sonorities on the beginning of "Seven Devil" by Florence + The Machine as found on this music video:

On the right and center fields is a very good imitation or possibly the real Aboriginal Musical Instrument, known as a "Bullroarer".

"The instrument itself consists of a simple wooden slat, 30 to 40cm in length and 5 to 7cm wide that is whirled around in a circle on the end of a length of cord."

quoted from this source: http://www.didjshop.com/austrAboriginalMusicInstruments.htm This site has broken down the acoustics pretty well.

On the left and center fields is some white noise shaped (filtered) like the breathy way Ian Anderson plays flute in the rock band Jethro Tull, very pan pipe like. Think about the music from the Andes pan flute or zampoña as a start. This element is later blended with a cymbal being played with repetitive mallets.

How can you produce this sound?

1) Acoustic means: you could easily try to make your own "bullroarer" and you could ask a flute playing friend and a percussionist to help with the other sounds.

2) Electronic means: Do you have synth? Try locating a patch that has the velocity set to trigger the overtone series, the faster you strike the note the higher the harmonics. Something like a one pipe, pipe organ with a Leslie effect. Maybe your synth has a 'bullroarer' patch, also look for a bottle or pan flute patch. I know Yamaha has those two last ones.

The key ingredients of the "bullroarer" is that it is an edge tone sound (like a flute) but since it is spinning it has natural doppler shifts in pitch as it turns. In practice the musician will spin it faster and slower to get some real colorful harmonics. This is why I recommend the "Leslie" effect. Think of the "bullroarer" as the Aboriginal version of a B3 with a Leslie speaker cabinet.

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In this live version, we see that some of it is played by violin.

Other parts of it is on the synth, where you can get any sound you like by tweaking.

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It doesn't sound like a "real" instrument, more like a synthetizer (flute sound ?) with some effects (reverb, echo, ...), maybe a sample...

Something like :

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