(sonicArts) concrete music techniques in peak

For your 2-track collage project I am limiting you to a set of classic concrete music editing and processing techniques:

  • cut/copy/paste
  • gain change (as an envelope, or overall)
  • playback speed change (without maintaining pitch – speed change should create a pitch change)
  • change of direction (reverse)
  • equalization

This post gives you the specific commands in Peak, along with some added help in using them. Other posts will outline the use of Audacity and SoundHack.


In Peak, your editing commands will be in the Edit menu and the DSP menu. (Many commands will also show in the toolbar at the top.) Equalization happens via plugins in Peak.

Cut/Copy/Paste are in the edit menu, and these are obviously the same as if you are editing a Word document. Also in the edit menu are the Silence and Insert Silence commands. The Silence command will cause any selected audio to have its amplitude reduced to 0%; Insert Silence allows you to add a specified number of seconds of silence at the cursor insertion point. Cut, Copy, and Silence require you to select audio on which to perform the operation.

There are five ways to change gain in Peak, all accessed through the DSP menu. You can Normalize a sound, which changes the gain of the selected audio to some percentage of maximum (or some dB below max). You can Change Gain, which lets you specify an amount of gain (increase or decrease) to apply to the selected audio. You can apply a Gain Envelope, which lets you manipulate a breakpoint function to change the gain for a selected portion of audio. You can fade in or fade out, which is really a gain change envelope that is fixed. You should keep in mind that with Change Gain and Gain Envelope, you can easily increase the gain to more than 100% of the maximum system amplitude, resulting in distortion.

Changing playback speed in Peak occurs with the Change Pitch command in the DSP menu. Don’t use the Change Pitch (Variable) command. You can adjust sliders to an interval of +/- one octave, or +/- 100 cents (100 cents = 1 half step). You can also type in a cents value into the interval cents box that is larger than one octave. Important: uncheck the preserve duration option in the lower left corner of the dialog window. I want your change of pitch to occur by changing the playback rate. Increasing the pitch requires increasing the playback rate (and shortening the overall duration), and vice versa – lowering the pitch requires lowering the playback rate and lengthening the overall duration.

Change of direction is handled by the Reverse command in the DSP menu, applied to selected audio.


Peak doesn’t have a DSP command for EQ (the boosting and cutting of amplitudes of specified frequencies). You need to use a plugin for EQ changes. My recommendation is to use the Apple Audio Unit: AUGraphicEQ, set to 10 bands of control.

With The AUGraphicEQ, you have 10 frequency bands where you can cut or boost the gain of that band +/- 20 dB. Be careful when you boost amplitude, as this could lead to distortion.

In Peak, plugins operate non-destructively on the audio. That is, you hear the effect on playback, but the file has not been changed. The processing is happening live during playback. If you want to save the file with the plugin process applied, you have to “bounce” the file.

After choosing Bounce…, select disable plugins after bounce, then save the file (usually Save As…).


Leave a Reply