Soundfly

Home for the Curious Musician

Ryan Lott: The Creative Potential of Sound (Video)

+ This exclusive video is presented courtesy of Ryan Lott’s in-depth course on Soundfly, Ryan Lott: Designing Sample-Based Instruments. Sign up and inject a new dose of creativity into your music with custom-built virtual instruments. 

What is possible when you start a song with a sound rather than a melody, harmony, lyric, or groove?

According to modern-day Renaissance man Ryan Lott (of the band Son Lux), the answer is “anything,” and after seeing him work, we can’t help but believe him.

Ryan has accomplished so much, from releasing popular records to scoring major films. In many ways, his entire oeuvre is defined by surprising, otherworldly, hard-to-pin-down sonic origins — specific instruments, sounds, and palettes that welcome a listener in while also keeping them on their toes.

In his brand new course on Soundfly, Ryan shows us how capturing interesting sounds and turning them into playable instruments can unleash stunning amounts of creativity in the music-making process.

You could say his course is simply about “sampling.” After all, capturing audio and using it as a compositional tool is at the core of what we’re doing here (it’s certainly the main focus of RJD2 in his course, From Samples to Songs). But the process Ryan shares has a depth to it that goes well beyond collecting and incorporating sounds.

A new instrument can imbue a familiar melody with mystery or add something profoundly unique to an otherwise predictable song. Developing your skills in this area can make you a better composer and push you to think beyond the limitations of standard instrumentation. It can break you out of creative ruts and transport an audience somewhere wonderful and unexpected.

We’ll be looking at how Ryan makes all of that happen in his music by watching him work with audio from a few seemingly familiar sources: a piano, a human voice (provided by the amazing Hanna Benn), and a drum kit (played by the prolific Deantoni Parks). He’ll show us how he captures and processes sounds to maximize their creative impact, as well as how you can use them to discover fresh ideas and create new music.

He’ll also crack open a popular Son Lux track called “Live Another Life” and explain how it started with an instrument created from a rhythmic sound.

Whether you’re looking for untapped sources of inspiration or hoping to find that thing that takes your existing work to the next level, the lessons here have so much in store for you.

“It’s like you’re having a party. The party’s good, it’s not great. Who can we invite into the room to make this a great party? That’s kind of what it feels like to inflect your process with a new instrument that you’ve never heard before because it’s never been made.” — Ryan Lott

This course is for the sonically adventurous, but Ryan shows that you can also use the techniques herein to compose popular music. You can push beyond pre-conceived creative boundaries and still bring audiences along with you. We hope you’ll take up the challenge.

Ready to Get Started?

Keep learning about production and beat making, composing and arranging, theory and harmony, mixing, songwriting, and so much more, with Soundfly’s in-depth online courses. Subscribe for access to all, including the newly released and widely-acclaimed Ryan Lott: Designing Sample-Based Instruments.

Sign up here for Soundfly’s weekly newsletter.

Ryan Lott on Soundfly

Ryan Lott is a composer/film scorer, producer, songwriter, and bandleader. An avid collaborator, Lott has worked with choreographers Stephen Petronio, Travis Wall, Gina Gibney, and Jodie Gates, and dance companies like Ballet de Lorraine, National Dance Company of Wales, and BalletX. His film scores and arrangements include The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (2014), Paper Towns (2015), Mean Dreams (2017), and the iconic sci-fi film Looper (2012). He is frequently commissioned by new music ensembles, including Eighth Blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, yMusic, and even Paul Simon. Lott also created the original game soundtrack for “Tell My Why,” heralded as “the new gold standard for trans characters in games.” In 2007, Ryan founded Son Lux, releasing music that “works at the nexus of several rarely-overlapping Venn Diagrams” (Pitchfork) and in 2014, the band became a trio with the additions of guitarist-composer Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang. Son Lux scored A24’s highly-acclaimed film Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022), which features collaborations with Mitski, David Byrne, André Benjamin (aka André 3000), Randy Newman, and Moses Sumney, among others. Ryan's online course, Ryan Lott: Designing Sample-Based Instruments, is available now exclusively on Soundfly.