Long-time listeners will no doubt remember that I use Soundcloud to embed my music on Giant Bomb for these blogs. Well, long story short - I ran out of space on the free version of Soundcloud...
So I'm going to transfer to Youtube for a while. I made a snazzy intro sequence for my music. Check THIS out:
Wow, that's a lot bigger than I intended. But never mind!
I prefer Soundcloud, but when push comes to "you have to pay us money to continue using our fabulous" my wallet is usually the first to say "eff that".
Alright, so behind each one of these blogs, there is usually a tale of woe, and this is no different. This poor track will never actually be finished, because at some point during the production process, the whole thing corrupted itself eight ways from Sunday. Luckily, I had exported an unfinished version before that disaster struck, but without all the original data, I'd have to reconstruct Rust by ear and memory to get back to where I was.
To be clear: this has a zero percent chance of happening. So I faded out the end with an external program, and voilà, Rust XI.
So the ending is lame, the mix is... well lets just say for a period of about 45 seconds, all the instruments are so loud that those little bars that turn red when everything gets loud... turned red. For a whole 45seconds. That is a long time. But I was happy with the kickdrum, and that's basically all I need in a piece of music.
Now, important question to the audience at home: what is a video editor that is better than Windows Movie Maker? Because man... everything is so much harder than it needs to be, even for things like adding multiple pieces of text at the same time. I'm no video production expert, but when it's hard to add text, something is broken with your program.
Those intrepid few of you who checked out last time's SoundCloud-quota-filling soundscape-spectacular might recognise a piece of music I made called Neon Highway. Now, what you heard there was 2 and a 1/2 minutes of what was actually a 6-7 minute long song (songs don't have to have lyrics, OK!?). It was the beginning and end, so I basically gutted the middle, and like a virulent salmon it lay there gasping for breath while I shovelled its innards into the bottom drawer.
Anyway, here is part two, the guts - if you will - of the tune. I would have loved to make it whole again, but I re-jiggered so many things to make the first part after I disembowelled it that the effort involved is beyond me.
What I actually wanted to write about (hush, the music is coming - just relax) is the way that I mixed this particular track. For numerous reasons (hateful neighbours at 1AM, hateful flatmates at 1AM, and so on) I had to don headphones to finish it off. Now, as some of you may know, iPod headphones are not world-class when it comes to dynamic range.
Thus (because obviously I can't at the moment) I was wondering if you, the sweet Giant Bomb community would dissect my song and tell me what is too loud, what's not loud enough, and particularly what shouldn't be there. Not only is it super-useful feedback, but you guys get to kick back for 4.5 minutes and listen to some of the greatest music ever created.
So here is my dumb little experiment. Whenever I put up a new piece of music, people regularly mention that it sounds like it should be in a video game like Super Meat Boy. Well, although I don't actually have a game at my disposal, I decided to do the next best thing: (not really)
I wrote a really dumb story, and made music to go along with it.
How to Play
Well, it's easy really. Just play the songs while reading the dopey text, and don't move on to the next sequence until the music for the first one ends (and you've finished reading, obviously!).
See, it's kinda like a video game, except with words, and you can't choose anything. Anyway, see what you think!
The flowing green hills, bouncing sheep and cool breeze all belie dark ruminations beneath the fertile lands of Green Acres. You walk through the sunny, carefree landscape with no recollection of who you are, or where you were before this moment. But you know what you seek: The Sanctuary. For some reason, you know that the answers you seeking are hidden there.
With green pastures far behind, you map your next destination: The Sanctuary. Unfortunately, between The Sanctuary and here lays the Neon Highway, a high-speed den of thieves, murderers and roadside motels. You spy a wretched looking motorcycle by the side of the road. This seems as good a time as any to learn a new skill!
With a roar (and an ominous *putt*, you set off down the most dangerous stretch of road in all the lands. The speed is exhilarating, but the fear of getting maced off of your bike even more so.
You arrive to find the sanctuary in ruins, It's ancient tenders long since gone. As you creep through the desolate, overgrown buildings, an eerie sense of belonging overwhelms you. Perhaps you should stay for a while. You take a deep breath, and prepare to explore the depths of this forgotten place. But you're feeling awfully tired. "Nuts to that", you tell nobody in particular, and wearily slump down to rest your eyes...
Awaking from your slumber, at the foot of one of the Sanctuary's decrepit structures, you suddenly feel much warmer than you had before. Prying open your eyes, you are immediately blinded by the most dazzling light. You notice sand in your shoe. You are clearly no longer at the Sanctuary. Before you can gather yourself together, the sand shifts beneath you, before launching itself, and you forty meters into the sky. You stand on the back of a Giant Crab, holding on for dear life as it scuttles through the blazing heat of the sands.
After what seemed like hours, the crab begins shuffling awkwardly. Glancing below, you notice that the sand has become snow, and as far as you are aware, there are no such things as Snow Crabs. The crab seems aware of this too, as with a might buck, you are launched down a perilous slope, into the freezing ranges of Frost Peak.
You see a group of caverns, surrounding what appears to be a giant hotspring in the ground. Dashing towards the settlement, you cross your fingers and pray that the owners will let you take a dip.
It seems that the residents of the lodge were only happy to put up with you for so long. After a relaxing moment in the steaming hot-springs, they haul you out roughly. Spinning around, you catch a glimpse of something hard and heavy, thrusting towards your cranium. Who turned out the lights? An inordinate amount of time later, your eyes peel open to the sight of a frog-man, peering at you. At the sight of your functioning, he yelps, and legs it towards his group of friends, chattering excitedly. You have been dumped in the Frog Men's capital, Swamp City. The Frog Man who had accosted you earlier wanders cautiously across the way, whispering to you as he passed by: "You ain't meant ta be 'ere jull. Go seek da Space Elevator, It'll get 'cha where ya wannna go". And with that he left you to explore the labyrinthine alleyways, tunnels and bridges of this great marsh of a cityscape.
Five minutes after receiving your critical mission to find the Space Elevator, you see flashing lights and loud noises. Not one to be easily distracted, you wander over to see what all the fuss is about. A glamorous-looking Frog-Man sweeps you under his arm and booms: "Wel'cam to da Leapfrog Casino. Fancy ya hand at a bit a gamblin', mah boy?"
In the completely alien landscape of Swamp City, a place where idiots go to lose money was oddly reassuring.
After freeing yourself from the clutches of Gamblor, you set off again, in search of the Space Elevator. Glancing to your left, a spire that towers above all other buildings of the Frog Man capital. Made of gleaming steel, the intricate designs covering the length of the structure implies that a force greater than the Frog Men placed this here. And they clearly placed it for a reason. As you step inside the singular, glass-walled room, the doors slam shut, and at great speed you are fired into space. In less than a second, Swamp City is but a speck, and then it disappears completely under the silvery clouds, lit by a pale moo. Soon, even those disappear and you are surrounded by stars.
After a while of gazing into the stars, you begin to wonder what exactly you're doing here. More importantly, you begin to panic as you realise that there is no exit on this elevator.
Suddenly, a loudspeaker mounted on the roof of the Space Elevator crackled and spluttered to life, and to your horror you hear a familiar voice:
Hello ma boy!" he boomed, "it appears you've becom' caught in mah web. Remember, it may be some time before you actually die, and I can retrieve your corpse... so ah hope ya got some playin' cards ah somet'in! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA- "
The speaker spluttered, then died completely.
Dread slowly fills you, and as you desperately launch yourself at any possible sign of escape, minutes become hours, and slowly, the hours become days.
As the nightmare fills your consciousness, dark creatures begin to claw at your skin, salivating, waiting for just the right moment to feast upon your brittle bones.
Everything is dark inside your mind, and even that darkness is tenuously held. Suddenly, a creak. Then you are falling faster than the speed of light. You can feel your molecules clinging together for dear life as the Space Elevator throttles back towards Terra Firma.
Ready to kill, and hungry as hell you leap to your feet.
It has been two weeks with only your deteriorating mental state for company, and both of you have been hatching a plan. Not much of a plan, sure, but a plan. You hear an accelerating *ping* as the dark clouds separate, rain pelts the Elevator and thunder lashes the sky. The neon haze of Swamp City, it's highways, the vast desert to the south, the icy western peaks, and the ruins of The Sanctuary are all below you for a split second, before the *pinging* slows, and finally with a shudder the Elevator reaches the base.
"'Eyo boy! I'm gonna 'njoy eatin' you!" booms from just outside the door. The time is now. *Ping*. You launch at the foul toad, but he is ready, grabbing you by your arm and launching you into the casino wall.. And thus begins the fight for your life.
You stand, panting ferociously over the corpse of the vile toad. His brains are spilling out his ears, and he twitches violently. Concerned onlookers murmur amongst themselves, and you figure "let them".
You breath a sigh of relief, and fall to the ground in joy. You are free of that dreadful prison forever!
However, at that moment the rain begins to fall to the earth in torrents. You see the gushing streams encircle you and trap you.
You can now see nothing but water, and it begins to drown you.
You scream for help, but nobody heeds your calls, they allow the rain to overcome you, to trap and keep you.
Outside your cell, two doctors grimace slightly at your peculiar contortions and screams. One chuckles slightly, while the other jots down a few notes on a blue sheet of paper. "Poor chap", exclaims one. "Indeed!", chortles the other, "he'll never get to Carnegie Hall like that!"
They both produce a dreadfully malicious laugh: "*RIBBET, RIBBET*"
"Did you know..." said one Frog Man to the other "that is the fellow who murdered that poor Casino owner?" "Oh, it was him!?" exclaimed the other, "some fellows simply have no class. No class at all." Then they wandered off to have some lunch.
The rain hammers the windows to the asylum and thunder strikes the clouds without meanness or lust, but for necessity. Far away, at the Sanctuary, a young boy wanders up to the desolate, arching buildings, with wonder in his eyes.
I can use punctuation and everything. The only time it goes horribly wrong is when I don't spell check myself, see, watch this. No personal spellchecking from here on in.
Hello everybody i am tying to you from ym computer and it feels so good.
Wwats that? skills, thats what. there are like 3 erros so far and thats onyl because i havent been changing it intentionally, to rproove the most provound of points.
OK, I'm going back to spellchecking. It's easy to look professional on GiantBomb.com, you just have make sure you're not trying to look like you've been drinking. That's when it all falls apart. Just use your common brains, people, Jeebus gave them to you for a reason: to make sure you haven't made any spelling mistakes.
Anyway, what with the advent of university WoW, Starcraft 2, and rejoining myself to the rest of humanity, I doubt I'll have an awful lot of time to make music. Who am I kidding? I'll find time. Whether it be by not attending lectures, or not attending tutorials, or not playing... no, lets not get ahead of ourselves here.
So this here critter is a definite WiP (Work in Progress - for those folks out there with abbreviphobia) so right off the bat, here are the things that I'm not happy with (and obviously as an impartial listener, you should totally gloss over these issues, and only focus on the good parts - that's how Metallica gets away with it!!!):
The Mix: Things get real... crunchy in the last, oh lets say 20% of the song. In layman's terms (because I know of no other) there are too many sounds playing at once, and it distorts like a mofo. The instruments themselves are about as balanced as they're going to get, but the overall volume of the track becomes - at a few points - too loud. The only solutions are to remix the entire thing (which isn't hugely time-consuming, but I'd rather not), re-render it at a lower volume (so that you - the listener - have to turn your volume up more, which isn't exactly ideal for you), or meet the distortion half-way with a limiter, which increases the volume of the track, while sacrificing it's dynamic range. I freakin' love dynamic range. Also I don't know how to use a limiter properly, and I ruin more than I fix 99% of the time.
Length: Fact, it used to be about a minute shorter, and in my opinion it was uncomfortably short. So I added an extra couple of bars. Now I think it's too long. That synth solo near the end is basically what filled that gap, but I don't know if it was worth it.
Apart from those few issues however, I'm secretly quite proud of this one (unlike my others, those venomous piles of garbage - sorry boys!)
Unlike my previous attempts (re: my other blogs that only my 3-4 loyal listeners heard) this time round I set out to make something with the intention of a particular emotion or feeling. Considering we have all recently invited a new year into our cold, maligned hearts I figured that hope would a good place to start.
Well, not hope, per-se, more accurately the idea of a new year. You know all that crap: fresh start, looking forward, lose 10 kg, etc etc. Burying the past and building the future. Looking life dead in the eye and making a sneaky grab for the...
But I digress.
Of course, how much of this wishful thinking comes through in the music... well, only you can decide that. I'm in no position to judge it, I think it's rad.
By the way, when searching for "Final Fantasy Hope" in Google, do NOT turn off safe search. Dear god. And on that note:
EDIT: Oh yeah, it might be a little quiet, so crank up your volume if it is.
Oh, and happy new year everybody!
Until next time.
(By the way, anybody who cares about all the technical stuff - I know there's at least myself out there - I got rid of the limiter completely, so... ZERO COMPRESSION! Aside from the fact that it's MP3 rather than FLAC or something, but then, that's pretty negligible in the grand scheme of things. Be sure to tell me if sounds better or worse without compression) 18 Comments
Oh boy, this is going to take a long time to upload, so I'll write this while I wait (but I'll put the music above this text, so you'll never know!!!)
So, following advice from last week, I used something called a Limiter this time. On the flipside, I think I may have actually compressed it more than last week's one, owing to the fact that I had zero idea what any of the dials meant, save from min / maxing them to see if I could tell the difference. Yes, I looked up online tutorials, but they only made me more confused. At any rate, see if you think it sounds compressed, or not compressed enough (you can tell because the more compressed it gets, the less "deep" the music sounds, as the compression jams the sounds together to make them louder and clearer, but also losing subtle detail.
Stop me if I'm getting too science-y.
I'm starting to see why the role of Producer exists. You don't have to be creative to be a producer, but you sure as hell need an ear for detail, to know when something sounds just right and when to stop tinkering with it. I tend to get too close to my music, and do very little in the way of stepping back and looking at the piece as a whole. Thus, volume varies all over the place, and of course, if I may remind you of my effort from last time it tends to be a little disjointed. This week at least, it's only disjointed once. And what a disjoin! Different timing and everything! Does it fit? Not really! But I spent a solid 35 minutes on it, so there was no way I was taking it out after that kind of effort.
I also know that as of last count, my last blog was about 3 weeks ago.
Performing some complicated math (involving counting on my fingers), that's million weeks.
Anyway, I've been busy, what with exams out of the way, I needed do do essentially nothing for a while, though unfortunately that "nothing" turned into complete apathy, so in a flurry of 2 hours the other night, I created this beast:
The fact that it was made in a rush really shows, so give it a chance (yeah over 7 minutes long, you know what's up). It's a little disjointed, I mixed, re-mixed and de-mixed (!?) it multiple times, and I'm still not happy with it. I'm actually quite proud of the music itself, if only because I started something, then finished it. You honestly wouldn't believe how many things I make that make it to about 1.30, before I drop 'em like they're hot, never to return.
This time, some feedback would be great, specifically on the mix. I made this entirely with headphones, so while the bass they produce isn't entirely terrible, it's not representative of... well, real bass, from a subwoofer - so I suspect some of you will have issues with over/underpowered bass guitar, kick drum, and lead guitar. I'm interested to know though!
I think for next week, I'm going to set out to make a Christmas-themed musical number. I don't know if you've noticed, but 'tis the season.
Although technically... it's Summer here soooooooooo... 'tis hot as hell.
I'm keeping it simple this time. That's right, fuck the banner, fuck the police! Lets get straight into it, loyal listeners.
First off, this track is why what used to be a regular Wednesday / Tuesday (depending on your time-zone) occurrence is currently occurrence-ing on Sunday. My chatroulette woes aside, that is...
It also took an age to render... I'm talking like 20 minutes! I HAVE NO IDEA WHY!!!
Anyway, here it is. Be careful, I was a bit overzealous with the dynamic range on this baby, so lets just say... the quiet parts are really quiet and the loud parts are really loud. I believe in the industry that's called: crap production.
Yes, I know what you're thinking: "I don't think I really like that". It's because of those god-damned irregular synths, isn't it!? I thought so. But by the time I got to a point where I decided I didn't really like them, I had sunk far too much time into the song to back out. I was compelled to finish it! Compelled I tells ya!
Lastly, and also least...ly, I bring you another unfinished wonder. The wonderment comes from you imagining what might happen after I ran out of good ideas. The possibilities are limitless!
Maybe I'm too tired at the moment to appreciate my own genius, but the formula for this starts wearing real thin about half-way though. That's the primary reason I gave up on it. Once can't-be-effed-itus sets in, it's probably a bad sign. So I ask you, the third-party (lord knows what happened to the second-party, it's best not to ask) what do you think about it? Should I bother with adding and improving it, or is it one of them bad eggs you hear so much about, wherein they are inherently bad?
Hopefully next week I'll make a new banner. Hopefully next week, I'll pick up the broken pieces of my heart, laying right where Chatroulette left them...