Square Enix Music reviews AW score

9/10 for the LCE package. Nice!

Read the article here.

Also, I came across an article in which Soundelux Design Music Group finally get their props – usually they were never mentioned in a review of the game. Oscar nominee Alan Rankin and his team did some brilliant work and helped create Alan Wake’s ominous atmosphere. Head to mi2n.com. In the same article, according to Mr. Mark Yeend (of Microsoft Game Studios) “(the game has) one of the best and most memorable I’ve ever heard in a video game.”

Thanks, Mark!

Wow, just… wow

Speechless am I now.

Originalsoundversion.com’s Gideon Dabi has reviewed Alan Wake OST, read the whole article here.

Kind words out of the blue feel really, really good. Thank you.

If some of my comments and “thank yous” seem overwhelming, it is just due to the natural fact that I know I’ve chosen quite a strange way to decorate a psychothriller – a choice I was originally a bit concerned to take. The more I browsed through my soundtrack CDs and mp3s, the more confident I became, and the choice to leave the obvious path lured me even more. I wrote in my SEMO essay “(the composer’s) …always on the edge, leaning towards the wind”, and it sure as hell felt like that. There were just too many things that could have gone wrong, especially when putting some beauty into madness – but after all, that’s life in itself (although not in a usual setting): finding order in chaos, a reason to survive.

Alan Wake article published

I wrote a lengthy post-mortem article for Square Enix Music Online, which is now online. It’s principally written about the scoring itself, with a slightly different point of view, I’d say.

One should think that as my box of mental tools, wide open. Also included is a healthy dose of criticism towards the catalogue music and its careless usage, but most of the time I happened to stay on the right tracks, it seems. After reading the article myself, I feel it reflects pretty well the train of thought and the amount of effort put into what I think I do best.

Read the whole article here.

Note: In the article, orchestrator David Christiansen is mentioned, but his name is erroneously spelled as Christensen. My bad, sorry David!

Yamaha D-85 add-ons

Before I’ve looped all the necessary Custom Voices and Special Presets, I thought it would be wise to deliver another coffee breakers: D-85 Arpeggiator and Bass Pedal.

If you’re too curious to find out what the D-85 does with its arpeggio engine, just click the lower left picture, scanned from the nicely written, child friendly D-85 manual. I’m still unable to get over the fact they really used hand drawn illustrations back in the 1980. In electronic device manuals. Unbelievable.

The Arpeggiator is just the sampled output of my D-85’s three arpeggio instruments (that is, without the arpeggiator engine, as one can add it later on with Kontakt 4’s scripts) with modulation wheel controlling decay time of the samples, whereas Bass Pedal is probably the most descriptive title ever: just that, one octave’s worth of everything D-85’s bass department could ever produce, which, to be honest, is really not that much. Also, the Tuba and Bass 8′ sounds are missing from the package, for a reason: coffee break was over before I was finished. 😀

The samples, being such simple sounds by their origin, are quite happily transposed much more than one could ever guess. Also, owning a license of Melodyne will prove being quite helpful as well.

The Solo Synth section of D-85 is couplable to pedals as well, but I didn’t have enough time to start recording that right now, as it needs to be done properly due to its filter system. I’ll do it, though – some day, using Kontakt 4’s AET.

Download: Arpeggiator and Bass Pedal. Note: Arpeggiator needs Kontakt 4, Bass Pedal works on Kontakt 3. Consider these as raw material, not finished products. Feel free to explore and if you’ll ever come up with anything cool using this stuff, drop me a line or two.

Next: BBQ outside, it’s sunshine and summertime.

Yamaha D-85 drum machine

Even though my trusty old Yamaha Electone D-85 electronic organ is one damn noisy bastard, I decided to create a few Kontakt3/4 sample sets, containing all samples and basic rhythms of its built-in drum machine. I didn’t raise my finger to remove the hiss from the samples, instead I just let them be as is. I did, however, include a fade-out for 50 ms into every sample.

As the D-85 has a balance fader between the percussion and cymbal channels, I sampled both separately – didn’t want to mess with Kontakt’s scripting engine, I decided to let the end user dive into that hell.

Also included are all the basic midi files, created from these preset rhythm patterns. Again, I didn’t want to sample the variations 1-3 and the fill-ins 1-6, but in case someone needs, I’ve got a service manual for that thing, in which they also included all the rhythm patterns, printed in Roland Style – dots in a matrix. For those willing to explore, I also included an “everything” sample set, containing all possible sounds D-85’s rhythm machine could ever produce.

To be honest, I was a bit surprised to notice D-85 had such a marvelous accuracy, and the timing of the rhythm section was very coherent, especially after I had let it warm long enough. Next: Custom Voices and Special Presets. Looping takes ages, especially if Symphonic Ensemble or Celeste are used. But, eventually I’ll put them here.

All rhythm sample sets are free, no copyright whatsoever.

Download: midi files, rhythm sets, and the single shots. Native Instruments Kontakt 3 or 4 needed.

Dumplo coffee breaker

Yet another tiny set of two instruments, made of plastic building bricks manufactured by a Danish toy company for 1-5 year old kids (the larger bricks, hence the name “Dumplo”). A brilliant source of higher middle frequency percussion. Recorded with a Zoom H4n and OKM mics, no processing in the middle.

Dumplo_sml has only four velocity levels and eight round robin groups, Dumplo_lrg has 6 velocity levels and again 8 round robin groups, with the same random parameters: pitch, eq. AET is present here as well, so unfortunately no Kontakt 2 or 3, K4 only.

This one was used in Alan Wake’s level 15, by the way. A small addition, yet it provided a lot of movement, especially due to a long stereo S/H Noise IR sample used for processing these.

Download: Dumplo_sml and Dumplo_lrg.

By the way, it’s incredible how fast one can work if you’ve set up your Kontakt’s user settings (controllers, for instance) and done some templates for percussive instruments, looped stuff, whatever. A quick mouse hand helps as well.

Another coffee break instrument

Asprine. Misspelled by purpose. One might use that for headaches, this one was for rhythm. It came in a form of cola-orange flavored granule sachet packages, a tiny pocket-size cardboard box with 10 headache granule sachets inside. The box and the sachet bags were shaken and tapped with fingers, recorded with OKM ortophonic microphones and an Edirol R09.

Result: A rhythm instrument not too far away from regular shakers or cabasas, only with a bit different twist of taste this time – literally. For Kontakt 4 only; 7 velocity layers, 8 round robin groups, AET and several real-time controllers plus humanizing randomness.

I thought of using the original name (due to the origins of this sample set), but I guess I’d likely violated a copyright. An earlier version of this was used in Alan Wake (AW) soundtrack, together with clapstick or toms (mixed in the background), in order to bring more randomness to a machinegun feel. Worked for me, probably works for someone else. If you’ve played the latter levels of the game, you’ve heard this one for sure.

Have a go, Asprine’s here. EQ it, compress the hell out of it, don’t leave it as is. Use it, abuse it. There are others coming as well, all from the AW instrument folder.

Kind words, yet again

WhenSpamAttacks.com reviews the game with some kind words on the soundtrack: “This game has a GREAT soundtrack. Props to Petri Alanko, the soundtrack composer, for providing some of the best music in a game since Fallout 3.” Thanks, anonymous, for the link.

By the way, Fallout 3 is among the very few games that I’ve ever had enough stamina to play through, twice, and thus I appreciate the comparison. So: thanks!

Pebbles – a coffee break instrument

Even though those two limestone pebbles may look like two potatoes, believe you me, they’re the real thing. I wanted to test a Zoom H4n for field recording, then create a Native Instruments Kontakt 4 instrument out of what I’d recorded, just to prove myself I really don’t need a portable 8-tracker worth 4500 €.

It turned out both the pebbles and H4n were pretty good, even though I managed to clip some of the samples. And, what’s even more positive: I think I’ll ditch the idea of acquiring myself an expensive piece of something that’ll be used twice a year.

The two instruments are called “pebbles” and “pebbles_low”, both recorded at 96 kHz/24-bit, then resampled to 44.1 kHz with Audiofile Engineering‘s Sample Manager (SM for short). Some batch editing was also done in SM, but nothing drastic, though.

What really impressed me (again) was Kontakt 4’s AET (Authentic Expression Technology), used in conjunction with 8 randomly cycling round robin groups, each containing 9 velocity layers. The result may not be the greatest limestone sample, but it goddamn worked pretty well in the backing track of a certain track in the making.

Also included is a heavy dose of randomization (pitch, eq1, eq2) and some Time Machine controls, pitch bend controlling the playback rate, modulation wheel lowering the pitch two octaves. I recorded these for Alan Wake just before my deadline, by the way. They ended up in the in-game music.

Grab the both instruments, pebbles and pebbles_low, they’re free.

(Coffee break instrument = took less than 30 minutes of time to create.)