Effect Bath — Collaging 16,000 BBC Sound Effects

Matt Miller
2 min readMay 24, 2018


Growing up visiting the public library my siblings and I would always head over to the CD drawers looking for anything good. They were a weird slanted wood laminate shelving system full of jewel cases.

CDs in a public library — from https://flic.kr/p/9dS6UQ

There would never be any new releases, having already been snapped up by someone else. But there were always rows and rows of sound effect CDs. Once and a while we would check one out, for the novelty of it. We would play it in the living room five disc player and marvel at a CD with 99 tracks. It was extremely boring. We would let it play alone to an empty room while we went on and did something else.

But when I saw that the BBC released 16,000 sound effects I knew I wanted to do something with them. I found that layering them and cropping them together made a kind of transportive experience. Jumping from a crowded train station one second to a humming rainforest was really compelling to me.

I created a twitter bot that does this editing, releasing a new 60 second track every few hours:

👉Twitter Bot: Effect Bath

The bot works on a corpus of 16,000 sound effects cut up into five second clips. In total there are 324,398 five second clips to collage. The bot can do two things with the clips: Try to link them together so the intensity of the sound and the end of one clip matches the start of the next one creating somewhat of a continuity. Or it will piece together all the clips that have the same average intensity. It then titles the clip using a generative text created from the names of all the clips combined.

The collaged effects combined with the fading text are fairly transfixing for me: View example on Twitter. So it reminded me of a “sound bath” a meditative practice, which I’ve never experienced, but I like the idea of taking a little 60 second sound break every now and again.

For a technical writeup on how the bot works take a look here