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, 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