The Art of Glitch

Written by Joe Trupiano

Have you ever wanted to make your own glitched out sounds?  Today I will dive into a brief overview of some of the free tools one could use to make a stutter-out effectual production.


You may be wondering, What exactly is glitch? Glitch is achieved by "splicing together small 'cuts' (samples). These cuts are then integrated with the signature of beats [time signature] comprised of glitches, clicks, scratches, and otherwise 'erroneously' produced or sounding noise."  Listen to an example of a glitch rhythm I created for demonstration Listen 

         There are a million ways to accomplish glitch. Often times glitch is best achieved the old fashion way: (by simply taking the time to cut up chunks of audio by hand: rearranging, copy/pasting, and adding silence, in a trial and error method. However, the main focus of this article is to provide a list of our favorite free tools that pack a powerful punch when it comes to glitch creation.


Free Tools to achieve glitch

Glitch by dblue

Our favorite tool for making glitch is a free VST plugin called "Glitch" by the developer dblue.  Unfortunately, as of now this plugin is only available for PC platform, but is well worth the free download if you are a PC user.  As defined by its developer Glitch "is a highly-adjustable, semi-automated, realtime audio manipulation system which allows you to alter your music in a variety of different ways ranging from quite subtle to extremely bizarre."  With handle and care this plugin ,hands down, can deliver a powerful punch.




Buffer Override by destroyFX


 Another free plugin we often use is DestroyFX's Buffer Override. 

"Buffer Override can overcome your host app's audio processing buffer size and then (unsuccessfully) override that new buffer size to be a smaller buffer size. It makes a lot more sense if you just try it out and hear what it does. It can sound like a stuttery vocoder or a stuck beat shuffler or many other delightful things. In certain hosts, you can also ‘play’ Buffer Override via MIDI notes and even sync it to song tempo."

The plugin is available for both PC and Mac and can create all sorts of shuffled, stuttery vocoder-esque sounds. This one takes some handle and care, but can pump out some pretty unique sounds.




Supatrigga by SmartElectronix

Available as both a VST and Audio Unit for Mac and PC, Supatrigga "could be called AutoBreaks, AutoGLitch or whatever. When synchronised to tempo this plugin will take the incoming audio and re-arrange it in a musically sensible way. Think of it as a realtime ReCyCle with fun options."


Livecut by SmartElectronix

         Livecut, is available as a VST plugin and is a "live beat-slicer that, instead of manipulating equal chunks of audio like most beatslicers do, it works on the notion of audio cuts whose length and number of repetition depends on the context and the cutting procedure.  Cuts are organized in blocks, which then form a phrase.”  Listen to demo from Livecut's website




Bouncy by SmartElectronix

Ever wanted to make your sample bounce like a marble hitting the floor? Although this plugin is not glitch in its true nature, Bouncy, is an awesome delay/echo plugin that can create some very usable stutter ramp sounds Listen.   Yet another free plugin to add to your arsenal.  Its parameters of backwards bounce, forwards bounce, envelope, feedback, and speed of bounce will have you bouncing for hours.  It's good clean fun for the whole family.




Our General Method


Every creator has his or her own method to the magic.  For us, when making glitch material to use in a track, we take a more patient 'trial and error' approach.  With all of the software/plugins discussed in this article, we generally set the sequencer tempo to the tempo of our work in progress,  hit record on an audio track, feed the plugin audio samples, and play with the plugins for several minutes while recording.  Then we go back and listen to the recorded result cropping, cutting, and rearranging usable chunks of material.  We take these chunks and mold them together creating our own unique glitched out loops.


Future Tools:

Acclaimed film composer, and electronic producer BT (often refereed to as the king of glitch and stutter effect) has launched a new software company called Sonik Architects

He is currently in the process of designing 2 amazing plugins that will be available for Mac  “Break Tweaker” and “Stutter Edit”.  “Break Tweaker includes a plethora of simple ways to deal with micro-note information”, he says. “A lot of people who are doing this by hand are going to be blown away because it really simplifies the process”. Stutter Edit will allow DJs and electronic music performers to replicate and modify the signature BT stutter effect live.