Going Stale. (Final Major Project)

This week has been really frustrating for me. I’ve been trying so hard to compose some music I like the sound of but I’m really struggling at the moment. What’s worse is that I know I can make music I like. Nothing I’ve produced in the last few days provokes any feelings in me, it’s really depressing. I talked to Mark yesterday about it and he suggested trying to make something that’s in a completely different style to what I ususally make. I tried this and ended up making 32 bars of cheap, dull music that contained a cheesy bassline and arcade style samples that made me just want to throw my equipment out of a window.

This is the main reason I’m writing this post, to escape my inability to function musically.

While I’m here I’ll run through some theories I read the other night. I wanted to try and research into how music prokes feeling in listeners. I found an interesting artcile on the BBC website that discussed a selection of films and how their soundtracks effect or emotions and how we feel. A part that particularly interested me was the section on the film ‘Paranormal Activity’ and how the usage of super low frequencies in the film effect our bodies. These frequencies cannot be heard by the human ear however we can feel them on a subconsious level and they we’re used in the film to provoke a sense of dread and nausia to the viewers. These frequencies are known as “Infrasound”.

Infrasound is everywhere and is a genuine health concern for people porlonged to it for long times. For example people who live near wind turbines can be effect by the low frequencies genereated by the blade spinning.

Some effects on the body that infrasound can have include anxiety, problems sleeping and nausea amongst more. It interests me that some people would deliberately include these frequencies in their sounds to intentionally cause an audience discomfort. It’s on a truely subconscious level as people cannot hear the sounds that are making them feel discomfort.

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Soundtrack interpretation (Final Project)

The other night I wanted to make some ambient music as an early example of what I could do for Nathan’s 3D environment. At first I was really struggling for inspiration and wasn’t happy with the sounds I was generating.

After researching into Michael McCann’s work on the video game Deus Ex human Revolution and hearing from Nathan about how he was taking inspiration from the games art style I decided to play it for a few hours. At first This was just a distraction technique to help me forget about the work I wasn’t doing. However whilst playing the game my I remembered why I loved the soundtrack so much. It really immersed me in the world of stealth and hacking that the game portrays. It’s a chilling yet relaxing experience which I wanted to mirror through my sounds.

After about two hours of play I stopped the game and started to through down some early sounds. I was really getting into the vibe I was creating and a day later exported the track I’d been working on into Soundcloud.

So above is the track. This one differs a fair bit from my previous track ‘Float’ even though some of the sounds I generated were from the same source samples.

In the Deus ex OST many of the tracks contain chilling choir style vocals Which I was really struggling to make work in my tracks. At first I thought It was due to my library of sounds not containing suitable style vocals, however I think it was mainly down to conflicting styles. I wasn’t using them in the right context or for the right style of music to suit my style.

Around half way through production I posted a link to Nathan of my work in progress to check that I was on the right vibe.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.13.45

(Fake video par)

I wanted to make sure we were on the same wavelength.

After some nice feedback this made me more motivated to develop the piece.

As I was happy with the way my piece turned out I took some advice I saw in an article that Phil showed me and put my music over the trailer to Deus Ex. Although the pace of the music is different to the pace of the video I think the atmosphere and style fits really well with the game.

Here is the trailer with my music over the top.

The next style of music I’m going to produce is going to be darker and more surreal and unconventional. Hopefully this will display a versatile side to my sound.

Goals & new productions (Major Project)

Phil talked to me the other day about my music and where I hope to take it. I mentioned that recently I’ve been really enjoying working on ambient, atmospheric music. As I mentioned in a post below this has stemmed from my gaming days where the Soundtracks stood out to me. I talked about how I had produced an ambient tune that I think could be used for a stealth game such as Splinter Cell. He then showed me a great article where a producer talked about his processes of getting his first job working on video game OST’s. The articile was a really interesting read, as it covered everything from how he first searched and applied for job opportunities to how he negotiated rates of pay with employers. There was some interesting points in the article about how suitable a job opportunity was to his style of music production. The article stressed the importance of always enjoying composing music and gave warnings about taking on the wrong type of job. For example, if I were looking for employment right now I would look to apply for a job that suited my style as an electronic composer instead of one as an orchesteral composer.

From my previous post you can hear the work I produced last week which explored the darker side to ambient music, in contrast to this piece I’ve posted a track below that I’ve just finished which has a much more relaxed and etheral sound to it.

The track’s called ‘Float’ and I feel like I’ve captured that feeling through my production techniques. For instance, whilst producing this track I really experimented with textures and the illusion of space. I achieved this by assigning differnt effects sends over multiple synth notes which all varied slightly to one and other. One of these effects that really gave this illusion of space to my work is called a BPM Delay. Essentially this echoes the sound for a certain amount of time and pace that you controll after the first note has been played. I applied a mixture of shorter and longer Delays to my synth notes which gives the sound more space and texture. You can also change the “colour” AKA “Wet” or “Dry”. If you set an effect too 100% dry you will not hear it. Turn it to 100% wet and you will get the maximum potential of the effect however this can be very overpowering to the overall sound of the audio mix.

The other effect I used is called a Reverb. and it makes the sound you trigger blend into the rest of the mix as it fades out. Combining delays and reverbs can lead to some really nice spacey echo effects that gives some music an etheral quality.

‘Float’ was inspired by the music of an ambient group called ‘Marconi Union’. The group are from Manchester and are known for creating the most relaxing tune ever made. (Scientifically proven).

There music made me notice just how much some effects add to the overall ambience of music.

Back to my chat with Phil, He told me to set my self some goals. One of these he suggested was to make at least two pieces of new music each week. This could be a lot of fun and will overtime help me build a portfolio of my audio work. One that I want to do as well is try and make differeing genres of music. I don’t want to be tied down to just one style or vibe. One day I might want to make some dark moody music, the next I might want to make something more upbeat. Also this’ll keep me on my toes and help me learnt new productions techniques that I can cross with other genres of music that I make.

Production Methods (Final Major Project)

Since last year I’ve managed to save up enough paper to be able to buy some profesional music production equipment.

I decided on Maschine which is a Hardware and software as it has a nice hands on approach to making music similar to the Ipad.

This is my current Set up. Very visual and playfull looking which I like.

This is my current Set up. Very visual and playfull looking which I like.

Here's a shot of of the Mashine software. I've found this a lot easier to get along with compared to FL Studio. It's a lot brighter and easier to navigate in my opinion.

Here’s a shot of of the Mashine software. I’ve found this a lot easier to get along with compared to FL Studio. It’s a lot brighter and easier to navigate in my opinion.

So over the christmas period I’ve been experimenting with producing music through Mashcine and there’s quite a learning curve compared to making tunes on an IPAD. I still feel like I’ve got loads more to learn (which is a good thing).

Over christmas apart from drinking too much and being ill I was working on more beat based music. Which was really fun, however last week at uni I had a chat to Nathan on my course about video games we liked and I began to remember all the awesome atmospheric soundtracks I encountered whilst playing games like Deus Ex, Portal, Homeworld and Fallout.

I had a think about other games I liked. I really love splinter cell but can’t think of the games soundtrack in my head. I still cant at this moment which is strange because usually I pick up on in game sounds. With this in mind I fired up Mashcine and started to make something atmospheric and ambient, something that I felt would fit well with a stealth game and bring a sense of unease and relaxation to a listener.

Here is the track I made named ‘Infiltration Scene’.

I think the above track of mine is influenced by OST’s like Homeworld and Deus Ex.

The main reason I like making this ambient style of music is because you can get some really nice atmospheric effects by manipulating sounds in experimental ways. It allows me to automate effects in ways I would never usually do for a beat based tune.

I try to replicate the sounds of car engines travelling past by automating low pass filters over a single sub bass note.

Final Major Project.

The other day we got given the briefs for our Final Major Project unit. Since then I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts and work out how I can develop the skills that I learnt last term and use them to create functioning, immersive environment that focuses on Binaural audio and visual stimuli.

Although I enjoyed the visual aspects of my Specialist Project I feel as a creative person to be much more driven by creating audio pieces. This is what I want to do in the future and I’m trying to think of areas of employment that would suit my skill set.

I definitely want to continue working with immersive 360 degree sound. I feel like I achieved a good outcome making my music binaural last term so I hope to keep learning techniques in Adobe Audition to make an experience even more immersive and professional sounding. I’ve also recently purchased Native Instrument’s ‘Maschine’ software and hardware bundle which is a music production suit and MIDI controller. I’ve been using this recently to produce sounds and beats on, I’ve still got a huge amount to learn but can see that it is really powerful and has great potential.

I’ve been thinking about the styles of music I want to make as part of my immersive experience and have been looking into video game OST’s for some inspiration. I used to be a dedicated gamer through and through but had to give that life up because it was turning me into a wasteman. However I realized how much the OST’s to these games effected me as a player and my experience as well as emotions that I felt whilst at the controller. Towards the end of my gaming days I’d start buying video games based strongly on their soundtracks and tended to enjoy the games with electronically produces OST’s rather than epic orchestral scores in franchises like ‘Call of Duty’. Instead I preferred mellow atmospheric and sub ambient music to play to. One of the most important game OST’s to me is from ‘Deus Ex Human Revolution’ as It was varied in its styles and influences and worked incredibly well with the games art style and colour pallet (Obviously my opinion.) The soundtrack ranged from purely etheral ambient melodies to techno style tracks and tracks with eastern influences in.

Below is the full soundtrack for you to skim through and enjoy.

I’ve also posted some screenshots of the game below.

Another massive reason I love this game is due to the art style.

Another massive reason I love this game is due to the art style.

 

The music worked well with the setting of a dystopian city.

The music worked well with the setting of a dystopian city.

 

The OST is dark in sound to reflect a worrying view of future technology.

The OST is dark in sound to reflect a worrying view of future technology.

Although dark in tone, many tracks on the OST contain ethereal synthesizer notes which works well with the way the game is lit, giving a sense of uneasy eupohria.

Although dark in tone, many tracks on the OST contain ethereal synthesizer notes which works well with the way the game is lit, giving a sense of uneasy euphoria.

The only thing I didn’t like about the game so much was the voice acting. This is something that I feel many games suffer from and again it’s just a personal opinion but I felt some of the speech was lazy and didn’t match up to the music in the sense of atmosphere and emotion.

This is probably sounding like more a review, but hopefully I’m explaining how I feel the bond between visuals and audio make this game what it is.

I would class this video game as a work of art whereas games like ‘Call of Duty’ I would not.

I feel like the way this game’s OST managed to compliment the art style, level design and environments has had an effect on the way I produce music, and changed how I think of immersive experiences.

Listening to the soundtrack sparked a real interest in ambient music within me and I began to discover musicians who produce similar music to Michael Mccann (Producer of the Deus ex OST). Id say my musical style is nestled somewhere between the dubstep and ambient genres. For example the drum patterns and basslines I produce are definitely inspired from my love of dubstep and grime music and the textures I use are often inspired by ambient music. (Texture is a weird word to use but I found a good definition of it below)

“Texture describes the complexity of a musical composition. The word texture is used because adding different layers or elements to music creates a musical “tapestry.” Texture can be simple or elaborate”

Another influence in my production of music is reggae and dub music. I have a lot of love for these styles of music as the sense of space and atmosphere that’s created through effects like reverbs and delays adds a great deal of depth to a tracks mix down. These effects are used commonly in many different genres and can add a really spaced out, relaxing feel to music, especially when applied to synth notes and certain percussion instruments. A great example of the use of these effects that ties in with game OST’s is the soundtrack to ‘Mirrors Edge’

Now this OST borrows a lot more conventions from more club based music as the game is incredibly fast paced and is all about movement. Most of the action revolves around the parkour and hand to hand combat so the beats are skippy and fast however dream like synth notes contrast this and really complement the visuals and environment your character is sprinting through.

The game is also viewed through a 1st person perspective adding to the immersive feel.

The game is also viewed through a 1st person perspective adding to the immersive feel.

 

The majority of the music in the OST has quite a fast tempo to reflect the gameplay.

The majority of the music in the OST has quite a fast tempo to reflect the gameplay.

 

As you can see from the screen shots above ‘Mirrors Edge’ uses a very basic colour pallet and is very bright. The soundtrack reflects this and I feel it has a clinical feel to it throughout. This had made me think about how the producer’s are influenced to make what they make. I’m sure they get given loads of concept art to work off of, because of this I’ve decided to make some mood boards before I get my head down and start producing.