Big Bad Bells

Soundtrack three has big bells ringing out as the holes in the ground pass the character walking down the road.  The soundtrack is a soundscape of a military funeral and when trying to find the last thing that would bring some variation, someone suggested “when the bell tolls”.  The bell is actually the bell from a microwave which has been pitch shifted down 33 semitones.  This might seem really drastic, to drop it more than two octaves, but I just kept needing the sound to be lower and lower than it was to get the desired effect.  Once it was at the correct pitch I added the EQ in.

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When you hear this bell in isolation, I will play the original bell first followed by the pitch shifted bell, and again and again, heard here:

Later in the track we see a different looking hole bypass the character in the animation.  To keep in the theme of the bells representing these holes, I did the same bell seen above, but in reverse.  You can see three in a row here.

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You can hear these three reverse bells together here:


Riding Along

Nearing the end of soundtrack 2 a ride cymbal is introduced.  It was to introduce a layer of mania near the end of the piece.  As the madness builds up towards the end, you feel like nothing more can be added to the soundtrack to make it harder to listen to.  That is when the ride cymbal is introduced.  It is a long reverberant ride with a mad long tail on it, and you can tell by the sound of it that it is a large, dark, heavy cymbal.  Here it is below.

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You can see below that I have rolled off the EQ on the ride cymbal, just to keep that dark washy uncomfortable feel of the cymbals.  There is also a chorus added, which combined with the natural sound of the cymbal makes a zapping sound.  The dry/wet is at 50% so we hear the original and affected cymbal together at the same rate.

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The sound of the cymbal can be heard here:

Static Incoming

In the second soundtrack as the character walks past the holes in the ground, we hear static coming out of the ground.  It is to represent the anger created when thinking about horrible news, and the electric is the danger created when you’re mad.  The static comes from an old school hairdryer.  The waveform is shown below.

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Below we can see the audio chain in effects, cutting out the top end with an 8band EQ, adding some sound erosion at 2.5kHz and also some fully harmonic distortion.

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You can hear this static effect alone here:

Extra Percussion

In the second half of the second soundtrack, the emotion trying to be evoked was manic anger.  As the dial up sound enters into the piece, I was trying to create a wall of sound of different textures of sounds.  I had to add in extra percussion alongside the drum line which goes through the whole piece.  It is a hand clap sequence in Ableton’s sample library which I added to piece, which creates an almost tribal style feel to the second half of the soundtrack.  The soundwave will be shown below.  As you can see the pattern is 1-2-3-1-2 then 1-1-1-3-2.  This handclaps had a very particular audio effect added to it.  I used a mid side EQ.  This particular EQ separates the frequency spectrum into the centre frequencies and side frequencies so that they can be manipulated individually without creating any artificial artefacts on the other frequency bands.

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This percussion can be heard in isolation here:

Dialling up

In soundtrack two, the conclusion of this piece is the character freaking out and losing his mind in anger and frustration.  The horrible, familiar sound of a dial up modem is the main feature of this half of the soundtrack.  The audio track was sourced from online, as I had no way to record it myself.  After loading the audio track into Ableton, there are several functions of time stretch manipulation: beats, tones, complex, complex pro, texture and re-pitch.  They all change the harmonic texture of the audio in a different way, the one which I chose to use was beats.  The audio was roughly 3 bars long to begin with but I extended it around 8 bars by stretching and squashing the audio.  Screenshots are below of the waveform and audio effects.  The overdrive is first in the chain in front of the EQ which is an unusual choice, usually all the effects happen after the EQ to affect the EQ’d sound.  I chose it this way, as it is now EQing the distorted audio, as a band-pass filter in the centre of our hearing range.  After the distorted sound has been EQd it is passed through a sound erosion effect, this just gives another level of excitement at 4.2kHz by fuzzing it out a little more.

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The sound can be heard in isolation here:

Soundtrack 2 Bass

In soundtrack two when everything goes mad near the end when the character gets angry and starts losing his mind, a bassline needed to be created to fill out the lower frequencies in the harmonic spectrum.  This is a MIDI map of the notes, which were printed from one of the first two instruments in this soundtrack, and then it is a MIDI reinterpretation of that using an algorithm built into Ableton Live.  The bass is an instrument created using Ableton’s operator instrument which I have gone into great detail on how it works here.

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The bass which is played in the manic second half of soundtrack two can be heard in isolation here (with headphones.):

Soundtrack 2 Drums

In soundtrack 2 there is a drum line which plays throughout the whole piece.  It is a drum and bass drum line with lots of snares and hi-hat.  The red line on the bottom row shows the volume automation of the audio track.  Up till the second half of the soundtrack, the drum line is increasing in volume as you can see on the left.  When the second half hits in the volume increases in volume to a steady level for the rest of the piece.  Underneath we can see the two audio effects on the drum line.  The EQ here shows a very short narrow band-pass for the drums.  This makes it very hard to hear anything other than the hi-hats and upper frequencies of the snare.  The second effect is a pre loaded granular delay called rubberband.  It’s already a really scratchy sounding drum line and this delay just keeps delaying all of the drum sounds to make it even more scratchy and uncomfortable.

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You can hear these drums in isolation here: