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LONG BLOG

Listen to my bad music 2: Electric Boogaloo

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Hey people! It’s me, ScionVyse. You may remember many months ago I posted a blog showing off some of the music I had been working on at the time. It’s that time again folks, put on your bleeding ears cause I’m back with some more music for you to listen to! I’ve already posted a few of these tracks on Destructoid, but I’ve updated them and wanted to talk about them in a little more detail than a quickpost can allow. I’ve gone into the story behind why I’m doing a lot of these in my previous blog, so if you think “but why?” I’ve explained it there. :P

First off, however, I wanted to break down a track I’ve most recently posted, and finished up since then. I’ve been doing game audio in school recently, and one thing I’ve had to do for a recent project is write a short piece of music for an FPS game. We needed to compose it in a way so it had three main layers. A low energy layer, a medium energy layer, and a high energy layer. This is the low energy layer.

You’ll notice that this layer is mainly dissonant ambient noise, with a low synth bass oscillating at changing frequencies. The bass changes to create a bit of an unsettling feel, so on this layer you can’t properly identify a tempo and it also prevents a solid groove in the higher energy levels. The level of the game we did sound design for is called the Core, so that’s why the song is called the Core.

The medium layer adds in more synths and some percussion. It gives an idea as to what the melody is, while still giving a lot of leeway to expand in the high energy layer. The synths again are not exactly in time, mainly because I’m bad at guitar and can’t play perfectly in time, but it also adds to the unsettling feel. The low energy ambience is still very noticeable, and the percussion is mainly just there for effect. (This layer on its own may need a slight change in the mix, as the synths aren’t exactly the same level, but it blends in perfectly as is in the high energy layer) I was able to do some cool sound design for it too, the straight rhythmic sound is actually me strumming my guitar in the headstock instead of the main string, and I just effected that to make the cool wah-like sound.

 The high energy layer is essentially just a guitar layer I added on top. It really glues the whole piece together, completes the melody and adds some cool guitar fills in the second half. The chugs are the least interesting part of the guitars, but I feel like they’re necessary to keep the energy up. I’m a big fan of harmonic minor keys, so I wanted to make use of it here. Now, this does end abruptly, mainly because I designed it to loop over and over, and not like a traditional song. I’m really happy with how the mix turned out, too! I usually hate my mixes, but this one actually doesn’t sound bad, miraculously. Considering From the first idea to the finished product was about 4 hours of work, I’m fairly happy with it.

 

The next piece here is an Overworld theme I wrote for the game my buddy is making that will probably never be done. With this, I was basically thinking “Hey dummy, all your other songs are repetitive and boring, stop that, dingus!” so I did this. I tried to fill it with so many little things so something is always going on, even repetitive parts were supposed to have something interesting going on. I am pretty happy with the composition on this one, it really sells the sense of adventure I was going for. Now if only I could come up with a cool but not super pretentious name for it.

 

Speaking of the overworld theme, this one is called Stormy Fields. I’ve done tracks like this before, experimenting with motif and theming, for different variants of themes. I meant for this one to be for the same overworld, except in a scenario during a big storm, a la the Great Sea/Cursed Great Sea, except with less of an, I guess, evil feel, and more just letting the rain itself set the mood. I kinda stumbled onto this by accident, just messing around with chords. Found the Dm6 to Em7 progression and just immediately felt it would work for a theme revolving around rain. It just so happened that the overworld theme also only has two main chords in its progression, so I just went from there. I’m thinking of bouncing out a version without the rain sound effects, but as it is, I feel it works well as a different texture that isn’t usually heard in music. This song is still a work in progress, I’ve put a total of about an hour and a half of work in on it so far, so it’s definitely not as polished and dense as some of the other pieces here.

For this next piece, I need to clarify a few things. First, I composed all of these on a keyboard, playing all the parts myself. Second, I have no idea how to play piano at all. All of my knowledge is me attempting to use guitar experience on piano. So, for Sonata of Snow, I did something super out of character for me and I played most of this pretty much as is, just hitting record and playing. I added a few small things, added to some of the chords, and fixed up some of the timings, but if you really pay attention you’ll be able to see that the song isn’t actually all in time. The song ends up one beat behind by the end and while it happened as such because I’m bad, I actually like how it turned out, and decided to keep it.

Next is another song I’ve posted before here. It’s a nice piece I made for a harbor town, called Serene Village. There isn’t a big story to this one, I just wrote a soft little piece of music and I think it’s pretty. The flute trills are pretty bad though, as unfortunately I don’t have a flute trill sample that fit properly with the tempo, so I had to do it myself, and it didn’t work perfectly.

Lastly, is a piece I wrote as a game-over song, called The Fallen. From most people I’ve shown my music to, this one ends up being one of the favourites. I think the strength for this is in its simplicity. A simple melody with some more building on top of it every time through. The percussive harp is really effective to express the feeling of loss that I went out to create.

So, that’s all I’ve got for now. What did you all think? I’m looking for some good criticism, don’t hold back, I can handle it. I’m constantly trying to learn more, improve my composition skills and engineering/mixing ability. I know I have a long way to go before I’m putting out professional level stuff, but I’m a lot better than I used to be, even a year or two ago, and a lot of the composition and mixes for these tracks I enjoy a lot more than ones I’ve done for previous work.

 I’m always working on new stuff, but things may end up slowing down soon, as I’m almost done school, and I’ll lose access to a lot of the equipment and software I’ve been using, at least for a little while. I’ll be focusing on getting work somewhere in audio post production after I graduate, but getting my own setup up to snuff is my first priority afterwards. I really wish I could spend all my time on music, but I’m pretty much required to go in during the middle of the night to work on stuff, haha. There are a few more songs I’m working on now, but none of them are in a good enough of a state to show off yet. Anyways, thanks for reading/listening!

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About ScionVyseone of us since 10:38 PM on 06.08.2014

I'm just a guy trying to get though life, playing video games and making music along the way.