This tri I decided to do 3 more separate mixes as well as helping compose the soundtrack for the games. The first mix I did was a song by Nick Tart and his band. We recorded it in week 6 as a whole class lead by Guy Cooper. The recording session went really well and it was a new experience fore me to have someone with that talent in the studio.
The mix was fairly frustrating on the other hand. While we took not of which instrumental takes were the best I had to sift through every vocal take and determine which was the best. When I finally removed all of the breaths and coughs I ended up with 2 composite vocal tracks, one for the lead vocals and one for the backing vocals, and two tracks for the harmonic vocals. All together these tracks were made up of about 8 vocal takes all together. The main issue was trying to comp the backing vocals as by this time in the recording his voice was starting to wear out and it became more raspy and “air-y”. I fixed this for the most part my EQing the high end out and slightly lowering the mid range a few db. I also used a de-esser on all of the vocal tracks as there was lots of plosives that really stood out in the mix. The drums came out really well and only need a little EQ and slight reverb. Because the guitarist used his own amp the guitars already sounded the way he wanted them. Again I just EQ’d a little and added some reverb to really fit the genre of 90’s rock. The bass was also very clean and needed little processing.
After I finished editing the vocals I went about EQ’ing each comp track differently. For the lead vocals I focused on the mid range and tried to solidify them even more. I added a fair bit of reverb to them and took inspiration from the way Chris Cornell’s vocals sound in most of Soundgarden’s songs. The backing vocals were EQ’d to bring out more of the higher end and were processed with a large reverb with a fairly short decay time. This pushed the vocals to the back of the mix and made sure the reverb didn’t make them ring out for too long.
For this mix I used the song By Crooked Steps from the band Soundgarden. In my opinion this song by Nick Tart really reminded my me of 90’s grunge era rock so I decided to take that approach and make the guitars “battle” with the vocals to be the focal element of the track.
The finished mix was submitted to the submissions drive with the rest of the project files.
For my second and third mixes I remixed tracks I had mixed from tri 2. The first track was titled Hot Wheels Derby and was performed by the band Veal. I was really unhappy with the way the first mixed turned out but I realised now that the recordings were pretty bad and you really can’t polish a turd. Every track had hot levels and a fair bit of reverb from the room they were recorded in. Regardless I decided to give it a shot and in the end I was pretty happy with how this one turned out.
The track was about a professional car race and the genre resembled a fast punk rock/ metal style. I didn’t really have a reference track for this one because I hadn’t really heard something like it before other than whole concept albums.
I started by cleaning the drums up, EQ’ing them to solidify the overall sound of each track and finally added some reverb to it which resulted in a fairly solid timbre. There were 2 guitar tracks, lead and rhythm. The lead one played higher notes and started towards the middle of the track with a tight solo. Because it was playing a riff made up of the higher notes I cut the low out and boosted the highs a little when I was EQ’ing to compliment the fast ecstatic feel of the track. The rhythm guitar was a bit “meatier” and sit more in the mid range and became the overall trademark sound for the track as it drove it along. The bass was a lot higher than I expected which ended up working really well with the fast tempo of the track. I cut a little of the low end out and a little of the high which further made the speed of which it was being played more audible.
For the vocals I decided to take a completely different approach to anything I had done before. I thought it would be really cool if I processed the vocals in a way that made them sound like the singer was an announcer at a speedway. I EQ’d a lot of the low end out and added a hap of reverb which made the vocals sound like they were being played through a speaker at a speedway. There were also multiple vocal tracks which I started messing around with and ended up panning in different directions which made this cool back and forth vocal sound.
The last track I mixed was also by the band Veal and was called Exit Abattoir Left. This was really frustrating to mix for many reasons, the overheads were really low and didn’t get picked up as much in the mics, the toms were extremely ringy, the snares sounded flat and the guitars and and bass were really distorted which didn’t really fit with the over all sound of the track.
To start I heavily EQ’d the overheads to bring out the highs and added a stereo spreader to further solidify them. then I sent the tracks to a bus containing just enough reverb to give them a washy sound but still remain clear. The toms were a pain but after EQ’ing out the low ring it was a lot easier to work with. I added reverb to them and brought them out in the mix. For the snares I EQ’d them to make them sound a bit more boxy and crisp without going overboard. I then added a lot of reverb to give it a wider feel which ended up making all of the drums sound a lot bigger. The kick was just boosted in the low end and processed with reverb which further gave the drums a deeper booming timbre.
The guitars were a bit iffy and I wish I had go the player to do a lot more takes. They were distorted from the amp and already made the track a bit more muddy. I tried to clean them up with EQ and a short delay. This was the same for the lead and the rhythm guitar tracks.
The vocals were really fun to work with on the other hand. I had never mixed growling/ screaming vocals before especially with back up vocals in the background. I took influence from the vocals of Eyehategod and thought that type of mixing worked well with the rest of the mix. Because the song was obviously influenced by slow, southern doom metal Using this as a reference really influenced the way I mixed, such as constantly boosting the low end and making the vocals a focal point of the song while not detracting from the other elements.
Because there were 4 different vocal takes, all with different styles of singing, I EQ’d them all separately and had one track that presented the highs in the vocals, on that presented the lows and one that changed from both. Each track was processed with a large reverb to give it that eerie, deep and threatening sound that is in every Eyehategod song I’ve heard.
When I was helping compose music for a game it became clear that the planning stage and using the game as the priority inspiration is one of the most important aspects of composition. This inspiration can be taken from screenshots, concept art, gameplay videos and even play testing it if the game is that far into development.
Most music for games is either categorized as “static” or “dynamic”. Static music can be compared to most movie and tv soundtracks- it’s a piece of professional music that has been created with the theme, setting and characters of the game in mind but mainly serves its purpose as background music, something to further establish the atmosphere of the game. Static music can also be played during cutscenes or parts of the game where the player has no control. Dynamic music is music that is triggered to play during a certain action or player interaction. It is key that this music can be looped, repeated and faded out at any point of the game. We took this into account when working on the gameplay music for the game “Your Team”.
For example the track below starts to play in the game The Witcher 3 whenever the player sees a monster and walks towards it. The fights in the game are so long that most of the time the whole track plays all the way through which allows the faster percussions and constant repeating vocals to work with the gameplay and make the battle seem more intense.
Another key technique used in composition is to limit the repetition of one specific theme even if it does have different variations. Constant repetition can become irritating to the player and even make the game as a whole seem stale and boring which is the opposite of what the developers intended. Jesper Kyd, a composer for Borderlands 2 explained a solution to this problem in an interview with IGN, “For Borderlands 2, I wrote themes for the different areas. So there are themes for the Ice area, the Sanctuary theme is for your home town, and there is the Interlude theme which has a more Western feel.” By having different music for each area that the player comes across the player never gets bored by the music and each area feels more unique. This technique of composing for certain settings in the game can also become extremely effective if the composition focuses on a certain action or interaction with other characters.
An example of location specific music is the track below. This track plays whenever the character walks into a tavern in the game. The dampened hand drums, fast strings, repetitious flute and upbeat tempo perfectly captures the setting even without explaining the setting of the game.
Here are the soundtracks for the 2 games we worked on:
When it comes to film, ADR or Automated Dialogue Replacement is essentially recording dialogue separate from the shooting of a scene. This would be necessary for a film for many reasons- the original shot may have included too much noise when recording, a quiet delivery from the actors may introduce too much noise when the volume level is increased or simply the audio equipment may malfunction.
When setting up a session the engineer must decide on which type of looping they will use. Visual looping consists of the actor listening to the take several times before tracking the dialogue. However,when they are ready to record the audio from the previous take will be disabled and instead the visual recording of the scene will be played for the actor to match up the new dialogue with the old mouth movements. If the recording is not done in the control room than this requires a machine with a dual head video card or another method to send a split video feed to where the actor can see it.
The second method is Audio looping. Audio looping can usually have better results but is much more time consuming. Audio looping is set up the same way as video looping however there is no video feed at all and the old dialogue still plays during the actual new recording. Looping just the audio allows the actors to solely concentrate on the script and original delivery and emotion without worrying about the setting and visual sync. This method can take a while for the actors to make the new dialogue sound authentic and not “canned” due to the constant repetition and trying to reenact the scene perfectly. Most ADR engineers end up using a combination of these looping techniques throughout the ADR sessions for a whole film.
When it comes to the recording stage the microphone placement is usually dependant on the position of the actor in the original take. For example if the new audio is being recorded with a shotgun mic it is best to recreate the placement of the mic in the original recording, that way there is less editing and processing needed for the audio for it to match the camera angle. In any case the best position of the mic is slightly off axis and pointed downwards, slightly to the left or right rather than pointed directly at the actor’s mouth. This decreases sibilance and results in a more constant pronounciated volume. A pop filter may also be necessary if there is too much sibilance. Another way to result in a better take is to encourage the actor to replicate the body language and mood that was used in the original in the scene if they are comfortable to do so. Lots of movement may result in more noise so that also needs to be taken into account.
There are three main polar patterns microphones use- omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-8. Omnidirectional is when the sound source is equally picked up, by the mic, regardless of the direction the source is facing. Cardioid polar pattern allows the sound to be picked up the best from the front of the mic, picked up less from the sides but not picked up at all from the back. Figure-8 however, uses two opposite facing diaphragms, one at the front and one at the back. Because of this the sound source at the front and back of the mic is easily picked up but nothing is picked up from the sides.
Adib, Jordan and I decided to experiment with this polar pattern yesterday when we recorded dialogue for our project. Originally the game developers didn’t want dialogue in the game which we were fine with. However one day after recording most of the assets we were just messing around in the raven studio and decided to record some dialogue just to see what it would sound like. Jordan and I both put on hillbilly accents and the result was just hilarious. One of the developers, Anthony, came to ask us a question and we showed him what we just recorded. He thought it was great and called up the rest of the team and they all changed their mind and asked for even more dialogue and offered some suggestions on what we should say.We covered what they wanted and the rest was improvised.All together we ended up with around 20 lines of dialogue.
They implemented most of the dialogue into the game before the second play test. After the play test they asked us to do even more dialogue and said that was a part of most of the feedback. We went back into the raven a few weeks later and recorded around another 70 lines of dialogue.
During the recording sessions we used an AKG C414 to record the dialogue. We set the polar pattern to figure-8 and Jordan and I stood on opposite sides of the microphone facing each other. Recording the dialogue with this technique made it sound more genuine and real as the characters were meant to be talking to one another. Minimal delay time between the responses meant it was easier for us to edit. The only downside to recording the dialogue this way was that we had to manually cut up each line and drag them onto separate tracks to process and bounce out. After we finished recording we EQ’d the dialogue as well as adding a bit of reverb to it so that it fit in the setting of the game.
However we did need to edit the recordings and move each piece of dialogue to 2 separate tracks to, one for each character, to process them individually. This could become time consuming if we were recording lots of dialogue or if we ended up talking at the same time. Fortunately we didn’t need to record that much dialogue (only about 30 seconds worth all up) and we paused for a second just after each take so that no breaths or other noise from the other person came through.
Compression is one of the key processing techniques and is absolutely crucial when it comes to any sort of audio. The general point of compression is to reduce the dynamic range of individual tracks or the range of one final track, when it comes to the mastering stage. During the mastering stage different parts of the frequency spectrum will need different compression settings to appropriately reduce the dynamic range, thats where multiband compression comes in.
Multiband compression separates the frequency spectrum into different bands (hence the name), or sections. This lets the mastering engineer set individual compression settings to each separate band. The mastering engineer would use this method to individually compress the different elements in the mix which would reduce the dynamic range of the overall track while still being subtle and transparent. Most multiband compressors use 3-4 different bands though it isn’t uncommon to find some with more.
Correctly setting up the crossover frequencies makes the processing all that more effective. The correct position of the crossover frequencies mainly depends on the instruments that were used in the mix and how they were previously processed. For example if you want to compress the band that covers the frequencies that vocals sit at you would set the low crossover just below the vocals and set the high crossover just above the vocals as to not cut out too much reverb, if it was there. Most compressors have a solo function to solo each individual band which can further help in setting up the crossovers.
From there the engineer can begin compressing. It’s important that the track doesn’t get over-compressed as the tracks should have already been compressed more in the mixing stage. Multiband compression should remain subtle, if it’s audible at all. With any sort of processing at any stage it’s important to constantly be aware of how the processing changes the audio by A/Bing, or bypassing, the processing and comparing the processed audio to the original audio.
While foley was originally a key element in film, it has become increasingly important in the medium of gaming. Using foley in games has become a crucial element to maintain the immersion of first person games and to a lesser extent, third person games. For example including the sound of footsteps in a first person game can make the biggest difference in the player feeling immersed regardless of the actual gameplay. Foley has also become more popular in games as better compression software for audio files has become introduced.
The main difference between creating foley for film and foley for games is when you create foley for a film it must match a specific scene and correctly sync up with the images. However in games it is much more difficult to match the foley sounds with the actions because a player is controlling the movement of the character. This can even become more complicated if the studio you work for wants the audio assets for sections of the game that aren’t even in development yet, though most will give the engineer captured gameplay footage, let them play it themselves or concept art at the very least.
We fortunately got some tips from the developers we were working on the project with. They explained that we should create at least 3 different variations of one sound so that they could randomise them in the game. We took their advice and created a couple of different walking sounds and different variations of rocks falling.
Setting up the recording session of foley is extremely important to have an efficient and smooth recording session. Aside from having a breif it is also a good idea to list all of the sounds you NEED to create and some ideas on how to create them, and also list all of the optional sounds you would LIKE to create if you think of some that the client forgot. We suggested sounds for the character death, water splashes, and many other sounds to the developers we were working with while have a rough idea of how to create them as well.
Knowing the setting of where the foley audio will be triggered is also extremely helpful. This allows the engineer to apply the appropriate processing and fades so that it fits perfect in the setting. For example we worked on a game that took place in a cave so we added an appropriate amount of reverb to the foley to make it sound more legitimate. Some game development software such as Unity includes a small amount of processing options which makes it all the more easier for the developer to get the sounds just right if they weren’t satisfied with the processing the engineer did.
Creating the sound of rocks falling and rolling around was absolutely crucial to get right for this game. We recorded these sounds with a pair of AKG C-451bs using a stereo mic placement. Adib and I picked up handfuls of the stones and slowly dropped them back into the box. We dropped small rocks and large ones which resulted in a random mix of different sized rocks hitting each other as well as little pebbles falling more frequently with gave off a more constant sound amongst the clutter. A mixture of multiple takes of both of these approaches and we had a collection of sounds that fit well with what we had seen of the game. We recorded and submitted multiple takes so that the developers could randomise them. We also added heavy reverb to the sounds to make them fit into the setting when the sounds were triggered.
We also needed to create walking and jumping sounds for the characters in the game. This was done by having Adib walk in place on the rocks to make the walking sound and having him raise his feet up and then put them back down with some force to recreate the sound of jumping. To also give the jump sound a bit more of an authentic feel in a game Adib later on swung a piece of rubber tubing to make a swish sound that we just layered underneath the jump sound. This resulted in some great sounds that fit perfectly in the game. We of course also did 3 takes of each of these sounds for the developers to randomise.
When it came to creating the sound of a fire crackling Adib grabbed a handful of the tape that was in the studio and rubbed it between his hands which resulted in a perfect crackling sound. We just EQ’d out some of the high end and boosted some of the low and mids and it was almost a dead ringer. This time stereo was unnecessary so we recorded it with an AKG C414.
Setting, Pre-production, processing, compression and variations of the sounds are just some of the aspects that need to be taken into account when creating audio for games.
At the start of the trimester I didn’t really know what other discipline I would like to work with but during the meet up in the Void Jordan, Adib and I met a student from gaming who mentioned that they had an assessment coming up. The three of us agreed that working on a game would be a great opportunity to start working on foley and sound effects as well as specific composition. We told Anthony that we would be interested in working with him once he knows what exactly he had to do for his assessment.
A few weeks later we saw the project pitch which revealed that the game was a sci-fi game mainly set in space and titled Your Team. After a short discussion the three of us thought this concept was interesting as well as a good opportunity to experiment with foley and composition. Jordan emailed Anthony the next day and he was happy for us to work on the sound assets for his game. Anthony was sick for most of the following week so most of the communication was done via email.
Audio assets and brief information was mainly exchanged through google drive though occasionally in person. We were given a brief to create both original musical tracks and other audio assets for both the diegetic and nondiegetic aspects of the sound design in the game. The brief was pretty short but was detailed enough and included a few reference tracks which was enough to give us an overall feel of the world and he wanted to create. We talked back and forth to make sure both the audio we gave were coherent with the video game’s atmosphere and the mood that he was trying to convey through the game.
During the planning stage we created a pre-production plan and allocated small tasks between the three of us; I worked on the foley, Adib worked on the composition and sound effects and Jordan did both. Since the development cycle of the game was rather short,we did not have enough time to fully plan and complete all of the tracks and sounds that we originally wanted. However we still submitted a fair amount of assets by the due date.
For the foley we had booked the post suite and recorded some sounds using a total of 2 microphones both dynamic and condenser which can be seen in the production plan. The condenser was set on the cardioid polar pattern and all of our tracks were recorded in mono.
The brief specified that Anthony wanted some mechanical noises to play during an upgrade screen but didn’t go into detail with what sounds he wanted so we decided to record some well known and easily recognisable sounds that have been heard in other commercial games, such as the sound of a wrench tightening. For some of the recordings such as the wrench and switches, we used the sound of a socket wrench turning and flipping the switches on the tape machine in the studio. The brief also stated that Anthony wanted some sounds of glass bottles being picked up, put down and rolling around which we physically recorded with the bottles that were already in the studio.
We also used basic synthesis for some of the foley work and mixed them with other sounds we recorded from the studio. To achieve the engine sounds for the tracks they were a mixture of the electrical hum we captured from a light bulb from inside the recording booth and also a mix of white noise and low-passed sine waves. The explosion sounds were a combination of digitally synthesised explosion sounds played over the top of a recording of Jordan making an explosion noise with his mouth which was also processed through reverb and a compressor.
Adib took major responsibility for working on the Sound Effects. I was busy doing the foley side of the project while Adib worked on the sound effects, so I didn’t have a good idea of how the sounds were created. He created 6 sounds and he used subtractive synthesis to create all 6. Below is a screencap of the patch he used for one of the laser sounds. He made the laser sounds using one oscillator sine wave which was then automated using envelope 2 to achieve a short zap sound with a quick decay. He also processed it through a long reverb to represent the vastness of space as if it had the acoustics of a large physical space.
Another sound he made was the sound of shields recharging. Because the laser sounds mainly occupied the high end Adib decided to focus on the low end when making the shield sounds so that they were easily distinguishable from the laser sounds. The shields were made using the same process as the laser, the only difference was that he increased the attack and shortened the decay. The increased attack made the synth start at a lower octave then pitch up one octave.
For the other sound effects such as crash noises or warp gate, the same process was also applied but he had changed the oscillators around and inserted automated white noise to differentiate it with the other sounds we had already created. This one technique made up most of the sound effects that were used.
Composition was mainly done by Jordan and Adib while I gave feedback and suggestions and continued editing the foley sounds that we had previously recorded. When they worked on the composition of the soundtrack they tried to follow the limited brief while still exploring a range of emotions and aesthetics that would suit a scene in particular or even serve as a background track during the battle sequences.
Since the game was set in space, the feeling of a never ending emptiness was a key element of composition. They emphasised on long chords with lots of reverb as well as the use of simple sine wave arpeggios to make the tracks fit together. After a bit of research we discovered that many game soundtracks are designed modularly so that the game designer can cut them up, fade them in and out, and loop certain sections to what they deem appropriate to that scene or environment in the game. We decided that it would be a smart thing to do the same and also took that into account when composing.
They compiled some reference tracks that were in the same genre of games and even tracks from sci fi films that we had seen in the past, as well as using the reference tracks that Anthony supplied us. This group of references they compiled turned out to be extremely important when it came to the actual composition stage as it gave them a solid base to work from and direction to work towards in regards to the sound aesthetic and minimalistic approach. Below is a breakdown of each track they produced and the reference tracks that we took into account while working on them.
First Track: (Sad Scene) The first track was made was actually the last track to be used in the game. It was meant to convey and build upon the emotions of grief and anger that the main character felt at the time. The character is distraught over the death of his team members, as well as having PTSD from the constant battles, and decides to head back into the war as he doesn’t know what else to do. To keep with the timbre of spacious, reverberant sounds as well as giving the song more emotion, they used a sine wave arpeggio and a piano unison for the main melodic hook. As the track progresses taiko drums, strings and a pad was added with a phaser being post processed into the mix which resulted in a more futuristic, drone timbre that fit really well without being too prominent and drawing attention away from the other elements.
Second Track: (Battle Scene) For the battle music they heavily took influence from the soundtrack from FTL. To start they experimented with a saw wave oscillator to give the track a harsher vibe and make it seem more upbeat and aggressive but still incorporated the same aesthetic coherence of the low long drawn out pads and upbeat arpeggios. When it came to the percussions, they wanted a driving beat that would stand out and complete the theme of war and battle so they implemented taiko drums into the mix which sounded very distant and empty but still progressed the song along.
Third Track: (Main Menu) The main menu music used the same approach as the rest of the tracks but it has a more relaxing and pleasant pacing to it. They also used complex arpeggiators in this track to keep up with the sci-fi, futuristic theme that had been a main focus in the other tracks. They also used another drawn out pad to fit all of the other melodies and elements together to form one cohesive piece of music that gradually changed without getting stale or too repetitious.
In the end we submitted the assets on time and they seemed to capture the atmosphere of the game and were coherent in the scenes they were present in. One of the tracks was so good in fact that Anthony told us that he extended the cutscene in which it played just so that the song could play out longer. This track also took influence from FTL’s soundtrack.
The third song that I am going to analyse is titled The Bargain and is by stoner rock band, Fu Manchu. The Bargain is the 11th track off their 3rd full length album titled In Search Of… This track is a great example of stoner rock with its slow, fuzzy guitars, soft vocals and constant short guitar solos. As with most stoner rock, this song structure is fairly simple and very repetitious.
The intro sets the whole mood for the song and lets the listener know what their in for. It’s slow, relaxing and fairly long going for about 10 seconds. The thing that stands out the most is the first guitar that plays, it’s entirely panned to the right and audibly heavily distorted. It’s playing a combination of low and high notes but at a very slow speed. Another guitar starts to play, this time panned to the left. It’s not as distorted as the first guitar and is playing simple low chords that ring out that are muted just before the next chord plays. The constant guitar in the right gives the listener a simple rhythm to nod along to while the lead guitar in the right plays a slower relaxing rhythm that conveys a lazy, simple mood and only plays when its appropriate.
The start of the bridge is indicated by the longer riff from the lead guitar and the introduction of drums. Just as the guitarist starts to play the riff a snare is repeatedly struck and followed up by a crash hit. A kick can then be heard in the bottom of the mix, not too punchy and slowly driving the song along, playing a 1-2-1 rhythm. A snare work in conjunction with the kick and is hit on every third kick. A hi hat is also constantly being hit throughout and sits at the top of the mix but isn’t louder than the snare. The snare, kick and hat are panned centre while the crash is panned left and right.
Ya shook the override Why’d I get this far, this time A ton of more, I mean I’m ridin’ hell and the mile this time I see
The rhythm guitar is playing the same as it was during the first bridge aside from also playing the riff that the lead guitar played in the bridge. Have one guitar start to play two different parts works really well in this instance and stops the constant repeating riff of the rhythm guitar from getting stale and too predictable. The lead guitar can only be heard once in this verse, playing a quick riff about 3/4 through.
The drums for the most part are playing the same as they were during the bridge aside from the whole part being repeated once. While the kick, hats and snare stay the same, the crash is hit more frequently than in the bridge. It is hit at the end of the first half of the verse just before it is repeated again then it’s also hit 3 times near the end during the lyrics “this time I see”, during the tom roll.
A drift machine ago, I see A one you’ll never know A drift machine ago A one you’ll never know
During the chorus everything seems to slightly speed up. The rhythm guitar is playing a faster riff that uses higher notes that aren’t sustained as long as they were before. The lead guitar is playing a lower chord then a higher chord, both are sustained but not nearly as long as during the verse.
The drums have completely changed and are the reason the song seems to speed up during the chorus. The kick and snare start off playing the same rhythm as before but before halfway through, the kick is hit twice and the snare once in between. This one pattern is repeated 4 times in the whole segment and repeated twice through out the whole chorus. Just after the lyrics “A drift machine ago” there is a snare roll that turns to a tom roll and then follows up with a crash. Through out the whole chorus the crash is constantly being hit and takes the place of the hats.
During the second bridge the rhythm guitar plays the same as it did during the verse. The lead guitar is playing a solo through this whole bridge, mainly with higher chords than before. This is usually in most of stoner rock to either impress the audience or to show that the guitarist can play more than one riff. The drums are just played the same as they were during the first bridge.
An hour late’s too soon Surround the stop right through A sound far too long Explode and fail and see goin’ to and I’m gone
All of the instruments play the same as they did during the first verse.
A drift machine ago and they’re gone A one you’ll never know A drift machine ago A one you’ll never know
The drums and guitars play the same during this chorus as they did in the first chorus. The only difference in the chorus is the change from “I see” to “and they’re gone” in the lyrics. This changes up the lead vocals which could be a bit strange if they just repeated the same lyrics from the last chorus as the singer is kind of commenting on the story being told.
The rhythm guitar and drums play exactly the same as they did during the second bridge. The lead guitar is playing a slightly more complex solo than the previous bridge. It contains higher chords that are repeated twice or three times and sustained for longer than before.
A drift machine ago A one you’ll never know A drift machine ago A one you’ll never know
The drums and guitar play the same as they did during the last chorus with the only difference being the lack of the lead vocals.
The track fades out very fast with the vocals fading out slightly faster than the rest. The final lyrics can just be heard before the track completely stops.
Stoner rock originated from the genre of desert rock that rose up in California in the 90’s and gained it’s fan base through fans of desert rock and stoners. The slow tempo, repetitive lyrics and bass heavy drive makes most of the songs from the genre easy to listen and usually results in the audience rocking back and forth or slowly head banging in time. The distortion in the guitars is a key element of the genre and thickens up the song as a whole without being too intrusive sonically.
Unfortunately this genre seems to have died down in the last 10 years most likely from being too slow and simple in comparison to modern songs that have become popular among stoners such as surf and skate rock (Violent Soho, Dune Rats, etc). The progression of desert into modern rock (such as Queens of the Stone Age, Vista Chino) could’ve also lead to the original fan base moving on to faster and more complex music.
The second song that I am going to analyze is titled Crawling After You and is by garage rock band, Bass Drum of Death. Crawling After You is the 8th track off their 2nd full length album simply titled Bass Drum of Death. This track is a perfect example of modern garage rock, the sharp snares, fast distorted guitars and reverb-saturated vocals alone ticks all the boxes. The song structure itself is simple though occasionally changing, every verse has 2 parts and the final chorus has 3 parts.
The intro of the track starts with all of the instruments playing. The lead electric guitar sits up front in the mix, panned centre and left. It is playing fast chords alternating from low notes to high notes. It sounds like it has been slightly over compressed and processed with a slight reverb which is not unusual for this genre, neither is the fast repetitious riff. A rhythm guitar sits under the lead, panned centre and left. It plays the same riff as the lead guitar just with lower notes and less variety of them. It is really distorted, again another key element of the genre. The intro ends with a final note of the lead guitar fading out.
The snare is panned in centre is a key element of the mix. The crisp, fast snare hits again fit in the genre and are the main part of the drums in this track. The kick sits underneath the snare and can barely be heard, but it is there playing a very quiet 4/4 beat. The other part of the drums that can be heard are the hi hats which are panned slightly off centre towards the right they are surprisingly clean and are not too loud in the mix which is unusual for the genre as early garage rock songs usually had louder hats and cymbals. a crash can also be heard being hit in the left just after the snare roll.
Verse 1- Part 1:
Well I’ve wasted all my time Trying bad to make you mine And I know it’s not ok I can’t find that perfect line
In the first part of the first verse the electric guitars have dropped out and been replaced by a bass guitar and vocals. The vocals being the most obvious element have been heavily over compressed and because of that have been distorted. The vocals have also been heavily processed with a large room reverb fairly short reverb time which further makes the distortion more audible. The heavy reverb and over compression are meant to mimic the sound of recording a band playing in an actual garage, the origins of the genre. The vocals that have just been compressed are panned centre but the processed vocals are panned hard left and right, resulting in a unique vocal timbre that reminds me of seeing a band in concert- you hear the clear vocals up front but can also hear the reverb from the venue behind you.
The bass guitar isn’t as low as other rock songs which fits in the mid-high range timbre of the song as a whole. The chords are fairly simple a variate from repetitive low chords to mid to high and back to low, similar to the rhythm guitar in the intro.
The kick is slightly more audible in the verse and and the kick-snare rhythm becomes the core drum tempo with a snare roll at the end of the 1st part of the verse. The hats have stopped but there is an occasional crash hit in between the breaks of the vocals.
And when things are not the same Too far down in my brain Toss my drinks into the sky And I’m face-down in my mind
The lead and rhythm guitars return as do the hats. The guitars and drums play the same as they did in the intro and the vocals are sung in the same style as they were in the first part of the verse. This build up and reintroduction of instruments and previous rhythms could be considered a pre- chorus.
Crawling after you (x4)
The vocals are very simple in the chorus and just repeat one line of lyrics. There is a fairly big change in the guitars. The rhythm guitar has dropped out completely and the bass is playing at a faster speed and with higher notes. The lead guitar has changed completely, it has been distorted way more than before and is playing fairly long, drowning notes that are panned to the right than processed through a slight delay with the processed track panned to the left. This results in a constant drive that’s reinforced by the repeating vocals, catchy snare and predictable crash hits.
The drums have also changed up. There is no kick at all during the chorus but an occasional tom hit sits at the bottom of the mix which appropriately takes its place. The snare has also changed its rhythm to 1 hit then 2 faster hits and back to 1 hit and so on. This works with the guitars and maintains the constant speed of the track. A crash can also be heard being hit after the end of every line of lyrics.
The vocals drop out and the instrumentation resorts back to the way it was in the Intro.
Verse 2- Part 1:
And I’m waiting for something While you occupy my head And it’s getting far too loud When your face is oh so proud
The first part of this verse is the as the first part of the previous verse in terms of instrumentation and vocal style.
When I feel like I am dead Alone all day in bed Toss my drinks into the sky I’ve been wasting all my time
The part is the same as the 2nd part of the previous verse as well. Repetition is key to this genre.
Crawling after you (x4)
This chorus is the same as the previous one but with one exception, the lead guitars change up and play higher chords halfway through.
And I can’t get better If I don’t let you down All night I sweat her I can’t get further down
This verse is completely different any of the previous verses. First of all it starts with a snare roll that leads on to a single repeated snare hit then another snare roll then the 1-2-1 snare hit rhythm that was heard in the chorus. This is repeated once. The crash is also being hit after every snare roll and repeatedly hit while the snare plays the 1-2-1 rhythm.
The guitars are playing completely different to before as well. The bass seems to have dropped out and during the whole verse both guitars are just repeating one chord, the lead a higher chord and the rhythm a lower chord, until the singer starts repeating the lyric “down”. During that part of the verse the guitars mimic the singing style- they play higher chords during “dow” and then switch to lower chords at “own”, similar to how the singer pitches his voice. The vocals also change a bit. The singer seems to pitch his voice up during the lyrics “better” and “her”, almost giving off a whiney style of singing. This type of singing is unusual for the genre and is most notably heard in modern punk and pop punk bands such as Green Day and Blink 182.
Everything is stripped down in this segment of the track as it builds up to the final chorus. The bass has still stopped playing and the lead and rhythm guitars are playing a riff of middle chords to low chords to high chords and repeating this twice. The rhythm guitar in the left sounds slightly out of time to the lead on the right. This results in making the band sound like they aren’t exactly too talented or they don’t practice- an intentional element of bands that play garage rock.
The snare has stopped and been replaced by a boxy kick that still keeps the same fast 4/4 tempo as the snare. The drummer also sounds like they are tapping the sticks together at the same rhythm that the hats were being hit during the first bridge. This is really effective because even though they are adding a new instrument, it isn’t as loud as the others but still stands out and grabs the listeners attention because they noticed something had changed. About halfway through a tom roll can be heard with a crash hit following it, this also happens at the end of the bridge. This adds another element to the repetitious segment and really makes it stand out even more.
Chorus 3- Part 1:
Crawling after you (x3)
This first half of the chorus is completely different to the previous ones. The instrumentation is the same as it was in the bridge while the singer repeats the catchy lyrics. The stripped down arrangement of instruments results in the vocals standing out and makes the effects that much more effective.
Crawling after you (x4)
The second half of this chorus brings back that repetition of the very first chorus. As the singer finishes the last lyrics of the previous half, all of the instruments come back in and play just as they did during the previous choruses with the exception of the crash being hit like it did in the 3rd verse (constantly during the 1-2-1 snare hits, which is for most of this half of this chorus). The crash is also hit after the final snare roll at the very end of the chorus.
The song fades out fairly quickly with the final chords of the guitars being sustained and fading out last.
Modern garage rock carries many influences from other different genres mainly rock, punk, thrash and metal. Most garage rock focuses on being loud and fast usually resulting in even more distortion (an obvious influence from punk and thrash). The simple often repetitious lyrics usually come across as another instrument to head-bang to rather than being well written and clearly pronounced.
While the begins of garage resulted in its unique lo-fi sound from amateur bands actually recording a demo or album in their garage, today most bands achieve that sound through fuzzboxes, extreme compression and reverb processing or simply by using poor quality gear. Major increases of popularity of garage have been seen in the mid 60s, the 90’s and within the last 5 years as lo-fi sub genres have been gaining popularity.
The first song that I am going to analyze is titled Going Down and is by blues and funk guitarist and singer, Freddie King. I haven’t really listened to many other songs of his but he has a fairly big discography that I am looking forward to listening to. Going Down is the 6th track off Freddie King’s 10th album Getting Ready. This track alone fits perfectly in the broad genre of blues but contains more elements of rock than traditional blues for instance, swapping harmonica for electric guitar solos though the simplicity of the lyrics and the singing style fits with the blues from the 60s and 70s. The song structure itself is very simple too- intro, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus, bridge,outro.
Intro: The intro of the track starts with a few quick notes being played with the light keys of a piano. The final previous note is then constantly repeated until the bass guitar starts playing lower chords which cues the piano to do the same. The piano is panned to the left which gives a very unique characteristic to the track as it sounds like it ‘starts’ in the left then moves across to the centre (that’s where the bass is panned) and eventually becomes stereo as the electric guitar comes into the mix which is panned in stereo though sits more on the right. The bass guitar is really low and quite fuzzy possibly due to the recording techniques and microphones being used at that time. It sits at the bottom of the mix though it is constantly playing and gives more substance to the track as it takes the place of the low-end. The bass keeps the main rhythm of the whole track and when it plays lower chords the piano follows and occasionally the electric guitar too. Hi hats, cymbals and a snare can also be heard in the intro. The snare is hit in a 4/4 tempo an and is hit on the 2/4 beat. Before every snare hit there is 2 hits on the hi hats. A cymbal roll can be heard twice in the intro- once at the start just after the electric guitar starts and about half way through the intro just as the guitar starts playing lower notes. Just after the bass guitar starts and the piano starts playing repeating, an electric guitar comes in. This sits right upfront in the mix and only occasionally follows the same chord progression as the bass and piano. It has a very squeaky timbre which is very prominent due to it mainly playing high notes that are drawn out.
The vocals actually start, in this track, with the chorus. The quality of the vocals themselves are quite poor in comparison to today as they sound very compressed and slight distortion can be heard when the singer really starts putting more emotion into his singing. The low quality is most likely due to the quality of microphone which fits the time of the recording of course.
While the lyrics are fairly repetitious the singer changes the way he sings each line to further emphasise each lyric and because this is sung from the point of the view of the character this can actually convey the emotion the character is feeling in the song.
The piano follows the rhythm of the bass just like during the chorus though it occasionally plays short simply ballads between lyrics such as between the 2nd and 3rd lines.
The bass is playing the same rhythm as before although now we can tell it follows the rhythm of the vocals, for example it plays lower chords when the singing is quite low and higher chords when the singer starts to shout.
The electric guitar stops during the vocals but plays in between the breaks. The drums are playing the same as before though now the cymbal is hit 3 times after every second break in the vocals, each preceding hit louder than the last. For example it is hit during the last 3 “downs” of the lyrics
The verse is actually very similar to the chorus in terms of vocals, drums, electric guitar and bass guitar. The only difference with the piano is it is now playing higher keys which makes is more prominent in the mix again.
During the bridge the vocals stop completely other than a faint “woow” that can be heard in the background. The bass guitar plays exactly as it has been previously. The piano too plays the same as it was aside from a short ballad on the high keys at the start of the bridge and at the end.
The electric guitar plays a fairly long solo of high notes which gives the impression that this is the most exciting part of the song. It also shows the talent of Freddie King’s guitar playing and in a sense conveys a different type of emotion that can’t be achieved with vocals.
The hats and snare play the same beat as before but because there are no vocals it becomes clear that the crash is actually following the rhythm of the bass and is hit every time the bass plays the repetitious chord progression.
Lyrics- same as before.
This chorus is the same as the first chorus.
The bass, drums and piano play the same as the first bridge. The electric guitar is slightly different to the first bridge. It plays the second half of the first bridge during the start for this bridge then starts to play different chords, most notably when it plays one very high note 8 times in a row and then a couple of chords that haven’t been played previously in the track before. The singer/ guitarist can also be heard shouting “woow” this time with more clarity (most likely because he is closer to the mic than the previous person that shouted.)
For the outro everything starts fading out at once though because it sits right up in the mix, the electric guitar can still be heard last playing the same part as the chorus.
As well as this track having all of the key elements of the blues genre; fast piano, emotional projection in the vocals, repetitious lyrics and electric guitar (this became a key element as more blues bands implemented electric guitars for acoustic guitars), it also contains a lot of key cultural influence from previous blues songs. The story being told itself is a great example, the character is poor and hides in the boxcar of a train as it makes its way down to the city where his sister lives knowing that she will at least have the compassion to let him sleep outside her house. Most blues songs are about a self struggle either with money or looking for work and very few blues songs actual have a solution to the characters problem hence the name the blues.
The track Crystals was released by electronic music producer MOON of his 2011 EP titled MOON. This track uses various 8bit elements as well as consistent panning and tempo changes.
During the intro the first element that gets the listeners attention is the kick. It has a slight reverb but a very low gain and sits at the back of the mix while still being panned centre. It sits from 50-200Hz on an analyzer, peaking at -5dB which explains its punchy timbre but low volume.
At the same time a snare is much more prominent. It also is panned centre though it has a much more audible reverb with a medium decay time of 1-2 seconds. It has been equalized with a high pass filter that cuts below 2kHz, this boosts the crack timbre of the snare
These drum follow the pattern of kick, snare, kick, kick, snare.
A synth can also be heard at the far back of the mix though it slowly fades in reaching its peak in the first verse.
The synth reaches its peak gain level and its characteristics are now more audible. It appears to have been made using FM synthesis with a sine and square wave oscillator which would explain its 8bit timbre though not sounding too digital. It also has been effected with a huge delay that is panned hard right and left. The synth also seems to move across the stereo field most likely with a tremolo or specific automation as it specifically pans across on certain beats. While the synth is constantly panning the delay still stays in stereo. Though the synth sounds to have a higher pitch it mainly sits in the mid range, from 500Hz- 2kHz.
The kick has completely changed. It now contains more sub bass and a larger reverb with a long decay time. It now sits between 50-200Hz and its gain peaks at 10dB.
A shaker has also come into the mix halfway through the first verse at a constant 4/4 tempo. The shaker has a very light timbre and occurs in constant short contained beats. This track makes up the high frequency element for the song and sits from 5-15kHz which explains its light, sharp timbre.
Gain automation pushes the synth back in the mix and at one point it almost drops out completely before returning to its original gain level. Once the automation begins the delay effect is removed then returns once the synth reaches its original gain level.
A new synth fades in at the start of the chorus with a low humming timbre. This synth seems simple compared to the first synth as it drops in pitch 3 times and only one octave per change. The simple characteristics of this synth hint that it may have been created using subtractive synthesis. As the kick has also dropped out this synth sits in the low end frequency range from 50-150Hz.
The kick, snare and shaker stop as the first synth starts being affected by the automation then they return as it reaches it normal gain again.
The original synth changes to a slower tempo which brings out the other synth and the shaker halfway through the verse. The kick and Snare have been lowered in gain to make the other elements stand out more.
As the second verse moves into the second chorus a quiet cymbal wash can be heard at the back of the mix. This stands out as the shaker has stopped and this takes the place of the high end sitting from 3kHz- 15kHz on the frequency spectrum. The wash also comes in at the end of the second chorus as it moves into the third verse.
This chorus is then exactly like the first.
The main synth has stopped as has the shaker and snare. The low synth and the kick are the only tracks playing. The snares then come back 1/3 through the verse. Halfway through the original synth fades back in, similar to how it did in the intro. Near the end of the verse everything drops out for a second except for the main synth a cymbal was rises into the mix then fades out as everything previous returns.
The third chorus is the same as the others though only plays for half as long.
As the third chorus ends the main synth drops out and all that is left is the low synth. That too fades out and marks the end of the song.
The genre of 8bit or chiptune has started to become popular on music hosting sites such as soundcloud as it is a fairly simple genre to follow as a producer. Many indie video games such as Fez and Hotline Miami have soundtracks of exclusively 8bit electronic music undoubtedly paying homage to the early 8 bit video games of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. These iconic soundtracks have brought attention to the genre once more. Most modern chiptune orientated music takes influence from modern day EDM and rather than just being simple melodies most tracks now include punchy kicks and cracks of snares. The extreme of this EDM approach can be heard from artists such as Deadmau5 or even Flying Lotus. Chiptune can also be used in conjunction with pop music to create a type of 8bit synth pop. This approach has become increasingly popular in Japanese pop music. Chiptune music in the mainstream is rarely used on its own though its influence can still be distinguished in some modern pop songs.
The timeline and comments can be found in the Student Repository under “J_Graham” in the “Timelines” folder or by following the link: