New Cue – “The Future”

Just uploaded a new cue called “The Future” to Soundcloud, I wrote to contribute it to the upcoming hitRECord on TV Season 2 episode of the same name.

For those of you that don’t know hitRECord is actor/director/producer/singer etc Joseph Gordon Levitt’s open collaborative production company. So members of the companies website can contribute to requests that other members make. This includes Joseph Gordon himself and the company has produced albums, theatre productions and the film “Don Jon” amongst other things. Last year I contribute nine pieces of intro music for the first season of hitRECord on TV’s first season. While non of my pieces got featured in the show I through enjoyed the experience and learnt about the sort of things they did and didn’t want along the way. I’ve only contributed this piece this year as I got distracted by my Music for Media course, studio improvements, gear buying and ill health for first few months of the shows production. However, I got this piece submitted by the December 22nd deadline and now everyone can hear it.

Initially I wanted the track to have a dark and more dystopian atmosphere but in the end with a little hope but I think I ended with something that is a little dark but more hopeful. I featured acoustic drums, celesta, strings and bass guitar add a more human feel and warmth to the digital sounding synth bed, I think they worked really well together. I also worked on having the track progress melodically and harmonically rather than with my previous cue which progressed using sonic tricks and changes in the rhythmic parts and overall arrangement.

Let me know what you guys think below on Soundcloud, in the comments section or via the OCP Twitter.

New Cue “Digital Carpenter”

As I promosied in my last post I have a new cue uploaed to Soundcloud. This one is inspired by the soundtracks of John Carpenters and features all my hardware studio gear my Minbrute Analogue Synth, Yamaha PSS-470 FM synth, my Nord Drum (a virtual analogue drum synth). my Fender Stratocaster put through a Moog Minifooger Drive.

Check it out below and let me know what you think here, on Soundcloud or on the OCP Twitter.

Studio Transformation Part Two

Hello everyone, its been a long time since I last posted on this blog and tweeted on my OCP Twitter account but I intend to put that right from now on. I can’t promise how regular my post will be as my health is very up and down and this limits the amount of time I can work on studio improvements and music but I’ll try to up date the Twitter and blog when something new is uploaded or more studio work is completed.

A lot has actually changed in the studio since I last posted, first I have recently bought a new laptop to be the of the studio set-up. It’s a custom-built model from Scan Computers and while it took a while to work out why I was having a problem with it (turned out my sound card doesn’t play nice with USB 3 ports but the laptop has a USB 2 port so all sorted now) , it’s now fully up and running (touch wood) and I’m typing up this post on it. The laptop means I’ll be able to create much more complex and layered tracks/cues when that’s demanded of me. This is due its 64-bit capabilities Quad Core, check out a photo below:

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More excitingly I added a selection of hardware equipment to the studio, the Novation Impulse 49 sits next to the laptop on the studio desk and is great for playing in parts in Sonar via the VST instruments and I’ve started using its sliders when mixing (though there’s still loads for me to learn to get the most out of it).

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Novation Impulse 49 MIDI keyboard

I finally bought my first analogue synth this summer an Arturia Minibrute, its great fun and features on a new cue I’ll be posting on Soundcloud soon. The also features the Yamaha PSS-470 FM synth which was a great find (£40 including P&P) thanks to Moderat’s interview in Future Music magazine, the synth is much more than a kids toy. Below the synth rack (a hacked IKEA shoe rack system) sits a VOX Valuetronix VT20+ guitar amp (though the Minibrute sounds great through it too) and three new pedals (I’ve had my Electro Harmonix Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai for a couple of years now) these are a Moog Minifooger MF Drive, Moog Expression pedal and a Death by Audio Total Sonic Annihilation (a kind of feedback loop that changes the sound of the pedals feed into it). On the top row of the synth rack you’ll see the box for my Sontronics Halo microphone which I’ve yet to use a I’ve not need a guitar for the few projects I’ve worked on this year.

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VOX amp and effects pedals

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Synths on my hacked IKEA shoe/synth rack!!

Finally you may have noticed the curtains hanging behind the synth rack, these line that wall of the studio and are there to improve the sound of the room. However, I’m not convinced their thick enough to make a real difference to the acoustics of the room. So I’ll be building some DIY bass traps and other acoustic treatments in 2015 to improve the sound of the room. I’ve changed my mind about buying stands for my studio monitors and will instead buying new shelving so that the speakers are on the same level and mounted on foam to prevent vibrations.

I hope to blogging about  the new cue I’ve created in the next couple of weeks, make sure you keep an eye out for it.

New Track – “Motorway Chase” Cue

I put this track together over a couple days, scoring another scene from Richard Linklater’s “A Scanner Darkly”. This scene takes place later in the film as three of main characters drive along the motorway, when they feel their going to be driven off the road. It’s not clear if they are actually being chased or imagining which both adds to tension and separates the scene from the average chase scene. I decide to go with a motorik rhythm like that used by krautrock bands Neu! and Can though due the chaos in certain parts of scene there are more drum rolls and fills then Neu! or Can would have used. Over the top of this I lay down a simple repetitive bass guitar line, I used a record of my guitar playing this and then converted it into MIDI using Melodyne and then used Kontakt for the bass guitar sound itself.

Once the I had the rhythm section down I worked out a motorik rhythm guitar part that I disrupted during the most chaotic parts of the scene to compliment the camera work and movement of the cars on the motorway and the three main characters. Then I worked out the lead guitar part for the first part of the scene where the three main characters are just enjoying themselves and joking around as they drive along the motorway. When the chase is close I used some bends to both tell the viewer something bad is about to happen and to bring in the rhythm guitar part. I think guitar parts added a more American alternative rock feel to the track off setting krautrock influences.

The last element I added was a Korg Monotron drone that I feel further compliments the movement in the second half of the scene and that of the rhythm guitar, it also adds another layer of tension. You can buy the track via my Bandcamp. An update on the transformation of my studio is coming soon.

New Track – “The Tenderness of Silent Nights”

Yesterday I received my Certificate of Completion for my Sound Design having submitted my Final Project and had it reviewed by my tutor Paul Crossman (aka dance music producer General MIDI). For my my final project I decided to create an ambient techno track inspired by The Field, whose warm, rich analogue sound I’ve always admired. The only rule for the Final Project was that I had to use some of the techniques learned on the course using Native Instruments Kontakt sampler and Reaktor modular synth environment. I used a Tapedeck ensemble we created in Reaktor, an organ and synth lead I’d create using an Additive Synth we’d made in Reaktor and an Analogue Drumkit I’d created in Kontakt. I also edited some vocal loops and vocal percussion loops out of long recordings I’d made using various Reaktor ensembles.

The resulting track is a dark downtempo ambient techno track with a thickly layered drone, hard cutting drums, deep bass guitar and child-like synth and bell melodies laid over the top, in fact I think the melodies add a creepy edge to the track. Check it out and let me know what you think:

New Music: Drug Induced Paranoia (Film/T.V. Cue)

When not steadily transforming my studio and working on assignments for my Point Blank Online Sound Design course, I’ve been working on my film scoring skills. The cue that I’ve written (which you can listen to below) scores the opening scene from A Scanner Darkly (video to follow shortly) which main subject was the victims of Drug use/Abuse. In the scene Rory Cochrane believes that he is covered in tiny green bugs that run all over his day and he frantically tries to wash them off or kill them with bug spray.

The main parts of my composition are drones and loops that I came up with using my Korg Monotron (original, Duo and Delay) and my Electro Harmonix Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai. These elements were then underpinned by a beat that utilised Battery 4’s Garage Kit and a Kontakt bass guitar instrument. Let me know what you think, I think its suitably tense.

Studio Transformation Part One

On December 23rd last year, I started the biggest transformation of my music studio since I first moved into my current flat eight years ago. I’d cleared away some things from the desk in the studio the night before and then the remaining items e.g. Soundcard were removed to leave the desk as you see it below:

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Then I took the desk apart and moved it pieces into the corner of the room, before then putting together the new smaller desk and returning all my music gear to the studio, as seen below:

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I also set up a Mac monitor that’d been given to me by my girlfriend Kirsty’s mum, so far though I’ve failed to set this up as a second monitor but hopefully its just a matter of technical knowledge and time before I can get the Dell laptop and Mac monitor communicating with each other.

This is just the start of the studio’s overhaul, a Novation Impulse 49 MIDI controller keyboard arrived yesterday to replace the EMU keyboard seen in the picture this and my Behringer GMX 212 guitar amp are being sold on ebay.co.uk to raise money for a new Vox guitar amp. If your interested in buying these items click here for the Behringer amp and here for the EMU MIDI controller keyboard.

I also plan to buy an analogue synth and Moog Minifooger Drive pedal soon, as well as a Sontronics Halo mic for recording my new amp and speaker stands for the studio monitors. The studio will also be kitted out with DIY bass traps, curtains for dampening and other room sound improvements. I’ll be sure to update the blog about things as they develop.