My name is Matt Glenn. I am a student of music technlogy and sound engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Outside of class (and sometimes during) I do a ton of thinking about music and audio engineering. This blog is a my attempt at organizing my mental maelstrom.

Matt Glenn

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Few Personal Projects

I recently uploaded two of my personal projects to Youtube, in preparation to use them as resume material. Both were done for my Sound, Image, and Story class, which focuses primarily on the use of sound and music to support, enhance, or alter a plot-driven visual work.

The first project is a photo roman , a movie that consists entirely of still images. The images follow a passage of narration which I was inspired to write by the photos. I mixed in a bed of sound design, including a few iterations of a particularly fun effect in which I isolate one or more resonances in a field recording:

Stepping away from twisted, existential prose, my second project is a mashup edit of the famous courtroom scene from the film A Few Good Men , starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. I changed their relationship a bit...

Not only was this sonically a very friendly scene to re-cut, but when Jack Nicholson feeds you lines like "Deep down in places you don't talk about at parties..." it's just too hard to refuse.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"The Township" ...

...taking your computer screen by storm with 60,000 hits on youtube so far! The music was composed, performed and recorded by Kevin Dekimpe and mixed by myself. Take a gander!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Recent Ailments of "The Beatbox"

I must digress for a moment from my usual "This is what I recorded today!" posts. It has been nearly 4 months since my faithful, aging Subaru Legacy made the 550-mile trip from Bethesda, MD to Ann Arbor and it has been squeaky-clean since then, albeit only in analogy, not in appearance. Recently, though, it began losing its grip on the fan belt, producing the infamous *eeky eeky eeky eeky eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee* sound. I took him to the shop, all is well (while I was there, check out what I saw)

I think a lot of college students with old-but-reliable cars develop a bit of a loving pet-human relationship with their loyal vehicle, myself included. So when I began to hear this cry for help my mind instantly filled in images of sudden auto-death instead of the $50 that it actually took to fix this relatively routine problem.

But hey Beatbox is fine, and before I took him in I even got a sweet sound recording of his squeals:

You didn't think I would let this sound get away, did you? (Warning: this is a bit loud)

Car Start w/ Loose Fanbelt by mattglenn

Flutes, Drums, and Composing...Oh My

Back in Diver land I have been doing much research on the culture behind the Shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo flute who's use dates back to 13th century zen monks, or komuso, who used the flute during prayers and meditation and to seek alms on the street. Music for this flute was organized into honkyoku, individual pieces that varied in tone, tempo and length. Here is an example, entitled Akita sugagaki:

In the 18th century, a komuso named Kinko Kurosawa was commissioned by the shogunate to travel throughout the lands of Japan to document the enormous variety of honkyoku that existed by that time. Incredibly, many of these honkyoku are taught and performed without the aid of scripted music. I have been in contact with Shakuhachi master Michael Chikuzen Gould (not to be confused with UM percussion professor Michael Gould, although the two have collaborated). We are hoping to work out a mechanical license agreement so that I can use his gorgeous recordings in the sound design for The Diver.

The Diver, by the way, is heavily influenced by traditional Japanese Noh theatre which, while an incredibly beautiful art, can appear very jarring to western audiences due to its slow pace and the unique vocal style employed:

I am hoping to adopt the instrumentation of Noh for some of my designs, including a shoulder-played drum called a Kotsuzumi, a hip-drum called a Otsuzumi, and the unmistakeable high-pitched Nohkan flute.

It will be fun and very hard to bring a new twist to the usual use of these instruments; on the other hand, it seems that most Japanese musicians and actors have trained for their entire lives to become masters, so I probably won't have a choice :).

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some Pillowtalk

The much-anticipated return of the University of Michigan student body has swept over Ann Arbor. Traffic lights become more decoration than law as the pedestrians become the dominant source of traffic control, while most cars contain new or returning students rushing around to buy tall-twin bedsheets and colorful, economical storage units. Amidst the I find myself reminded of the inherent distraction that college social life can cause. It's not entirely unhealthy for the typical student, to whom a week or so of meeting, greeting, and eating can be a therapeutic break from the tiresome norm. Alas, I am not, by those standards, a typical student.

For starters, I love my work. Not like, love. Like one would love a soul mate. I frequently ask myself how sound design can possibly be a career when it feels so little like a job. Sound design is my primary area of study, though, and this semester I am preparing designs for a theatre performance which will be my senior thesis project. I have been working for quite a while already on this project and lately I have noticed that I am very easily distracted by all that is going on around me. Between packing up my room, preparing to move, eating, working on (or even thinking about) other projects and seeing old friends, I have very little time to sit down and tackle the designs that I ought to be churning out by now.

I wish I could say that there exists a reliable process to creating a soundscape or sound effect sequence, but no such scientific method exists. Like most arts, the creative process for sound design is often based so much on spontaneous inspiration and/or resources at hand, so if my mind is focusing on plans for the evening, edits for my long-overdue movie mix, the excruciating 5 days it has been since I have taken a run, or emails from my parents about grad schools then I have very little capacity remaining to think creatively. Unfortunately, such seemingly trivial things in my life take a serious toll on my workflow.

And the biggest culprit of all? Sleep habits. Yes, the body pillow and I seem to have shorter and shorter cuddle sessions. I definitely shouldn't be writing this at 4am, but that's my cycle. It does not help my brain function and I know it, I feel it daily. Unfortunately, I often do not have the spine to deny my friends' and girlfriend's invitations to extend the bedtime. I know they couldn't possibly understand how strongly I feel about sleep, but sometimes I just do not have the will power to "get all serious" and explain it to them. There we go, it's a goal.

Lesson: don't ignore sleep. It's the best medicine and the most reliable brainstorm-recharger.

I leave you with one of the cues that I have worked hard on for the diver. If you can, try to listen on headphones or on a good speaker system.

Dive Sample 2 by mattglenn

Sunday, August 22, 2010

So I am back from California...

...but that does not mean I have put away my recording gear at all. I have been capturing various sound from the area and have begun my designs for The Diver , the play I am sound designing as my senior thesis project.

Today, I was grabbing breakfast with my friends Rebecca and James and James made this "interesting" grunt-like sound by making his voice break. So I recorded it and decided to play around. The result is a fairly creepy low-pitched moan. I demonstrate the process from original grunt to Lord-of-the-Rings-forest groan in this clip:

Pitch Shifting My Friend James by mattglenn

I made this while playing with Bias Peak LE software, and I discovered that the pitch-shifting algorithm in Peak is miles above any of the software I own. Sorry mom, sorry dad, might be spending some more money...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

California, Day 1

I am here in Davis, California hanging out with the family and getting ready to drive down to Lake Tahoe for a few days for some hiking, swimming, rock climbing, and other what-not. My brother, Jon (who runs his own blog HERE), knows of an area where burrowing owls have nests, so last night I went out with the field sound kit to try to get some owl calls recorded.

Well hey definitely live up to their reputation as silent flyers. Even when I approached a small group of them huddled together by a burrow they merely stared silently, a few ducking into the large circular entrances to their dens. Once I got close enough, though, one owl broke off from the group and flew a few yards to my other side, calling and flapping his wings wildly. I can only guess that this was a threat, distraction or some signal to the other owls in response to my presence, but the others silently started to scatter or retreat into the burrows. Most were gone in a matter of minutes, but for the 10 minutes of recording that I did I managed to pull together a few amazing examples of the single owl's calls:

Burrowing Owls by mattglenn

Jon has been photographing the owls for a while, you can see some of his pictures here (to see the full-size versions of the photos, hold your mouse over the yellow icon in the bottom left corner and click the link):

I will have the kit down in Tahoe and I hope to add to my wildlife sounds collection. Will post more soon!

Monday, August 9, 2010


Underwater Recording

1. Take a really old dynamic mic that may or may not be yours and may or may not be important
2. Wrap it up in an [unlubricated] condom
3. seal at the end with electrical and/or duct tape
4. Plug it in
5. Knock on wood
6. Toss it in
7. Hit record.

Underwater Samples by mattglenn

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sound Cloud

I have a soundcloud account now, at

I will be using this account to share some of the sound effects I have been gathering and the music I have been working on. I will be able to embed the sounds directly into this blog as well. For instance:

Lightning Strike Sample by mattrglenn

Monday, July 26, 2010

Camp Chapel 5.1 Surround Mix FINISHED

After hundreds of hours, 5 or 6 all-nighters, hundreds of gigabytes of audio files, voiceover sessions, guerilla foley tactics, and agonizing session trying to debug Logic Pro—my first 5.1 surround mix has been completed. Camp Chapel , starring Joey Richter and Kris Reilly, has been shipped off to the Traverse City Film Festival where it will play in a retro-fitted opera house in front of a large crowd from the indy film industry. I'm nervous but thrilled just the same. True surround sound is a rarity for any independent film, yet alone a student-produced picture, but I saw the opportunity and gunned for it and I believe it was the right decision.

Half a century ago, Alan Blumlein pioneered the idea of stereo—music and sound consisting of two independent tracks of audio intended for the left and right ears. The concept was employed simplistically and tentatively, used more as a tool than an opportunity. But slowly, music producers and sound engineers(e.g., Bruce Swedien and Quincy Jones, engineer and producer for Michael Jackson) began to appreciate and apply the power of the stereo image as a creative means to design a unique, more spacially-engaging sound. I believe that surround sound has reached that point, and in choosing to mix Camp Chapel in 5.1 I had the opportunity to toy around with the unique spacial options at my disposal. The low price and commonality of 5.1 home audio systems means that more people than ever have the ability to experience film in "3D" without the need for glasses (and music as well—see my post on iTunes Music in 5.1).

Camp Chapel will be pressed to DVD and potentially Blue Ray? I will make it known what happens, but for now I am proud of the work that the entire cast/crew has done to produce a film that I believe solidly holds it's ground as a short version of a compelling romantic comedy.

To conclude, I want to leave you with the pure reason that I want to be a sound designer for LIFE, in the context of Inception :

"Inception" Sound for Film Profile from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

I would die (or retire) happy with just one opportunity to work on material like THAT. Go see Inception , you shall not regret it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Camp Chapel Videos!

"Camp Chapel" DONE

Two weeks of 10-hour days in the mixing studio and I have the stereo version of the mix for the Screen Arts and Cultures 423 picture Camp Chapel. The film is a 20-minute version of the first-act of the screenplay, which does exist in full. Starring Joey Richter, Kris Reilly, and Quinn Scillian, the film depicts a high-school rebel who lands himself an arrest and subsequent ticket to a bible camp for spring break. Hilarity does ensue.

I learned a tremendous amount about post production (and production) sound on this project. Number one lesson: record EVERYTHING on set. Rehearsals, wild lines, crew chatting, partyers singing, footsteps, cars on the street, EVERYTHING! It always comes in handy when I need to fill in empty space with something, or need to replace some bad dialog (performance or sound) on a particular take. Amazingly, because of all that we recorded on set, no ADR (dialog replacement) was needed for this film. We did record a few reactions, breaths, whispers, etc. last week but they were hardly requisite.

The foley footsteps were a blast to record. Colin Neville, sound designer, and I walked around the music school in the wee AMs with a bag of shoes, the sound devices recorder, and the mic and recorded a mini-library of steps. We found these two podiums, one hollow wood and one hollow wood and covered in carpet, that provided excellent steps.

The movie should be online sometime this week and I will post the link then! Meanwhile, here is the trailer with unedited audio:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Me and My Dick hits #11 on Billboard Charts

In Winter of 2009, I recorded and mixed a musical called Me and My Dick . An original masterpiece written by AJ Holmes, Carlos Valdez, and Darren Criss and directed by Matt and Nick Lang [of Starkid Productions], the musical tells the story of a boy and his dick who struggle through the harsh realities of young love. The musical, which debuted in November to three sellout audiences, was written partially in response to the immense success that was A Very Potter Musical (by the same creative team).

Congratulations to everyone involved!!

'My Dick' Rises To Become First Charting Student Musical |

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Men's Glee Club performance

PLUG: This Saturday, the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club is performing its 150th anniversity concert in Hill Auditorium, which is COMPLETELY sold out to friends, family, and alumni. HOWEVER, you can GET YOUR TICKETS FROM ME for $5. It's going to be a fantastic event.

Monday, March 29, 2010

iTunes 5.1: New Quality in Downloadable Music

I was reading an article recently about an artist who was signed to a half-century-old record label in 2007 with high hopes for her career and for the label. Three years later, it is reported that she began stripping to keep herself on her feet. There really is nothing consistent or reliable about the music industry except that it is always in a constant state of flux. Even a mere decade ago, everyone bought music on CDs. Yes, BOUGHT. These days, listeners have ample opportunities to listen to music for free without breaking a single law (sources such as youtube and grooveshark make it easy). And more often than not, music serves as a background while the listener does something else.

I'm not complaining about any of this. Things change, and if you can't accept the new ways then commercial darwinism will quickly slap you out of your jadedness. Plus, mass access to music opens up a plethora of opportunities for musicians and producers like myself to collaborate with other types of artists and create new uses for our tunes.

I have a theory, though, that there is a way to present music of all genres in a new medium that is creative and fresh yet not too bold or expensive: surround sound music. It's not completely new—SA-CDs have been around for a while, and many electronic artists, such as BT, release DVDs featuring surround mixes of their music. But it hasn't caught on just yet. Maybe too few listeners own surround systems, maybe listeners just don't have the patience to experience or the ear to appreciate a surround mix. Even in film, surround sound is a drastically over-hyped and misunderstood for film viewers outside of the business. It has to start somewhere, though.

Imagine the setup: music that is already popular suddenly emerges on iTunes in "exciting new 5.1 format!". Users can download the tracks the same way they always do, but the filesize is a bit larger and the format changes a bit. As of now, the mp3 format does not support multichannel audio, but it would be very possible to design a 5.1-compatible lossy format. One might argue that this format would alienate listeners who do not own a surround system (hell, I don't even own one myself). I think this is just a way of the audiovisual world. Blu-rays, LCD flatscreens, and HD cable channels are luxuries, sure, but sales have shown that people like high quality stuff. Even with regular stereo iTunes music, higher quality speakers (and perhaps a subwoofer) enhance the listening experience. Prices for surround systems have drastically decreased in the past decade, and many can be connected directly to a computer via USB or the built-in sound card. And for all those music pirates out there—discrete 5.1 channel audio files are not exactly a standard format. Yes, I'm sure it can be done, but it would take a long time before the files would become as convenient as mp3s, and during that time iTunes could be the sole-provider of its own downloadable format.

Surround music would also change the music creation process for producers and engineers, before the music even hits the listener base. Advents in technology have made home-studio music production a reality, commercially jeopardizing many studios and putting studio engineers out of a job. Mixing well in surround is no simple task, and if surround music caught on then studios and engineers with surround capabilities would see a rise in demand, even if only slightly.

I admit that surround music would not drastically change the industry, and really the industry does need a bit of an overhaul. The old business plan did not account for the fact that people want to hear music for free and will do just about anything to pay nothing. But the nice thing about downloadable surround music is that it does not cost much more to produce, and could bring in a profit if advertised well. I even heard an [unconfirmed] rumor that broadcasting companies had talked about 5.1 radio broadcasting as a possibility, which of course would compliment 5.1 music downloading wonderfully.

Maybe I'm just one of those bitter music engineers who wants listeners to sit down in front of two high-quality, well-placed speakers and truly appreciate the work I put into the music; that said, most people I talk to simply lack this opportunity to do so, not an interest. And if they get excited about high-quality stereo music, I bet surround could make them drool...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Korg Kaoss Pad

If you have not seen/used/heard of the Korg Kaoss pad then I highly recommend checking one out. The touch-sensitive pad can be used to control synth elements as well as pitch, filters, delays, granuler stuff (stuttering) and other effects. The feature I enjoy the most is the sampler, which allows you to quickly build a looping groove using the built-in sounds or an external mic/line source. There is a lit tap-tempo button which pulses to the selected tempo, allowing you to perform a loop that fits perfectly to the tempo map (although the flashing light-metronome makes it hard to judge so it takes a bit of practice).

Overall, it's pretty fun but not something I would rely on. It's a bit difficult to keep with the tempo mapping because of the flashing light and because there is nothing to indicate when a given sample starts over. It's fun, but not worth my $400.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Getting job in the music/theatre industry is like impressing a girl in a bar...

• You have to be in the right place at the right time.
• It's all about first impressions.
• You may think appearance and wardrobe aren't that important, but they make a big difference.
• Singing or playing an instrument well scores major points
• A hot résumé never hurts
• Don't expect to go all the way at the start
• One wrong move could blow it
• You have to be willing to kiss some ass to get some ass
• It never hurts to know someone beforehand
• It's much harder in New York or LA

Anybody have a job for me? I'm not 21 yet...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Man of La Mancha

Windmills whirl, lances twirl, and a knight errant becomes a knighted lord in "Man of La Mancha", Musket's winter 2010 musical that will open this Friday, March 19, in the Power Center of Ann Arbor.

So I am fairly not good at writing pump-up publicity slogans ... but this show really is going to be fantastic. Musket, which is entirely student-run, has a reputation for being less-than-timely with show readiness; this team, however, has been so on the ball with rehearsing, production design, load-in, and construction, trumping most other shows that I have been involved with. L'chaim.


Truthfully, I should call myself a member of the set crew, but in fact I am the sound designer with a whopping 3 cues that are, in fact, variations of the same cue. You can listen to the cue (as well as my other stuff) here:

Come see it!