Building and Conceptualizing a Sound Library

Building and Conceptualizing a Sound Library


If you’re looking to build up your own personal library of source sounds it can take a little time.. it’s like a plant and it will need to be watered. Generally my approach to creating libraries isn’t so much “hey I’m going to make a metal library and it’s going to contain this this and this”. It comes together in a series of steps. I use Trello and a notebook to write down any ideas of props I want to record or future library ideas I may have. I make sure that if I have a cool idea, I don’t let it slip through the cracks - I write it down somewhere and then begin organizing and shaping it as time progresses.

Some of this process I’m going to expose here probably makes more sense in my head than someone else looking at it but I’m willing to share if it can be helpful in some way. Here’s an example of how I structure a few Trello boards:

Quick List

I have a few different boards like this. I can’t show the full lists because they are really long but the basic idea is that I add raw ideas. Some of these are props I might not have recorded before or broader ideas that I have some intention on expanding. For example when I added something like “bubbles” to the list I was probably thinking of everything from blowing bubbles in a glass of milk to the whirlpool spa at my gym. More abstract stuff too perhaps, like figuring out how I could make a bubbling lava sound later down the road. So.. essentially this is a list of mental markers.

Library Lists

When I do have an idea to create a particular grouping of sounds or commercial library, I will start a board with specific props or techniques I might use to accomplish it. So this would be the second tier in my brainstorming process after just a general prop/idea list. These are more of a record day type of list so that when I set the time aside to do that, I’ve got the outline of a plan that allows room for improvisation too.

Slated Projects

This is a board I use to track specific types of commercial libraries that I do intend to create. If I end up producing one I add it to the “Complete” list. This list is most different from the others in that they represent ideas that are a bit more concrete that have some additional level of planning to them going already.

Released Libraries

I have one last board that I use to track libraries that have been uploaded and officially released. I track which marketplaces they are on and when they have gone live.


As an Example..

The Metal Hits, Scrapes and Squeaks library is one of mine that went through this entire brainstorming process from concept to completion. I had a particularly fun experience making this one in the prop gathering process.

I had a list of things I wanted to grab from home depot, per my Trello board but I also just assumed walking in I’d probably pick up other things that looked cool. While I was in the store wondering around I caught the attention of an employee after awhile. I did have a pretty weird collection of stuff in my cart and I’m sure I looked lost too. She asked the standard question “need help finding anything?” I could easily have said no but it was a slow day in the store so I explained what I was doing and asked if she wanted to help me find props. She was pretty enthusiastic and spent about 10 - 15 minutes shooting me ideas and rounding out the prop list with things I wouldn’t have thought of.

End thoughts

I guess what I’m getting at with this whole thing is, organization is pretty important but be flexible and try inviting interesting variables to the equation once in awhile (home depot lady).