Saturday, 18 November 2017

THE BATMAN



Here we go again, you're saying! Yep, here we go again. This piece has been a long time in the making. Over two years in fact. I produced more imperfect ideas of it but being limited as regards to my instrumental pallet, I was never truly happy with it. 

I originally had a different idea, utilising my nephew's vocals to produce a piece more in line with an early Danny Elfman sound. But over time, his voice started to break and it was obviously no longer possible to use it. I worked on other things in the background but this was a distraction and a half. It was always that piece I couldn't finish. 

So I decided to revisit it and work on it until my ears and fingers bled. It is now practically unrecognisable to the original demo idea scraped together, which I uploaded almost a year ago, having exhausted all avenues to find a replacement for my nephew's voice, which I obviously didn't. You can watch it here.


Between the instruments and the massive learning curve a year gave me, I think the resulting pieces are an interesting study between themselves. Some ideas were kept and embellished upon, others were dumped entirely. Suffice to say, I'm very pleased with "The Batman" and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Bechstein Debauchery & An Ode To Danny Elfman



I recently acquired a Bechstein D 280 concert grand piano. Well the sound samples of one anyway! My dream piano, and unfortunately, I don't possess the fortune or solid gold bank account to buy one.

Eastwest QL pianos have a collection of 4 pianos: Steinway, Bosendorfer , Yamaha and Bechstein. A very expensive collection but upon investigation I discovered that I could buy just one of the models, thus saving a fortune and the Bechstein tone won it out for me.

Having a tinkle on the (plastic) ivories today, I tested the dynamic of the touch sensitivity by playing the opening chords to Danny Elfman's "Beetlejuice" and it struck me that I'd never really paid tribute to the man who is by far one of my biggest influences. So I utilised the driving hammered piano style and added trombone, french horn, 3 part choir (men and women in stereo, boys in mono), some deep staccato brass ensemble and some cheeky organ. I finished with celesta, boys choir, some flautando strings and the oboe. I'm very pleased with it and named it "Oiche Shamhna" as it is that time of year!

I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed creating it. You can listen to it HERE.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Tesco's Got Talent Relections

Performed with 3 other colleagues at the now annual "Tesco's got Talent" heats. All for charity and a lot of fun, technical issues and biased judging aside. It got me to thinking how interesting it would be to recreate "HERESY" live.

For anyone new here, "HERESY" is a 6 song concept e.p. I created chronicling the torment of a priest trapped in a mysterious desert who is battling demons both mentally and in reality. A quick tap on "Heresy" in labels should take you there. I really enjoyed jamming with the guys, there was a certain chemistry in our ragtag group, though I was not happy with my own performance in parts. Afterwards, feeling hopeful, I enquired about the possibility of producing the songs in a live setting. The guys seemed open to it and I hope that this comes to fruition. It was truly a labour of love and having waited since 2014 to do this, I am cautiously optimistic about it happening.

Below is the video of our performance from the other night. It is the exclusive property of Ginte Cepaitis. He is the singer of the video playing the Tele, and hopefully he won't mind me sharing it!




Monday, 7 August 2017

Tools, Tools And More Tools!

I can't remember ever really explaining the tools behind the music I create but there are no real secrets behind what I do. But knowing how to play music is pretty much standard. You don't need to be a prodigy and the tools certainly help both at work and helping to inspire.

The DAW I use is Reaper. Incredible value with all the modern assets for the modern producer. I can't afford Pro Tools or the like but I have everything I need with Reaper. Pro Tools is a great tool but extortionately overpriced and Reaper has every thing I possibly need.

A great producer only sounds as good as his samples and that's why I have chosen my libraries VERY carefully. High quality samplers and plugins are usually not cheap:

EastWest Quantum Leap Silk (Caters to my love of Indian and Persian sounds)
EastWest Quantum Leap Gypsy (For that ethnic folk sound - think Violin, Accordians, Dulcimer)

These are my go-to samplers. I have a certain "sound" in my head and I always seem to find it in these.
For the big lush Hollywood sound, I employ:

EastWest Hollywood Strings Gold
Eastwest Hollywood Brass Gold
Eastwest Hollywood Orchestral Percussion Gold
Eastwest Hollywood Woodwinds Gold

The realism in these is at all times absolutely breathtaking and can be upgraded over time as a less costly option when purchasing the licences.

For the more interesting "blockbuster" sounds, I use U-he Zebra. A Synth with incredible capabilities and highly adaptable sounds. Hans Zimmer is a big fan and he uses it in virtually all his later scores such as The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk.

Kontakt Instruments I employ are

SoundIron Apocalypse Ensemble (For a huge drum sound)
SoundIron Mercury (A boys Choir)
SoundIron Olympus (Full Adult Choir)
India (Again a lot of fun ethnic sounds)
Soniccouture Glass Works (Weird and wonderful Glass Instruments)
Waves Factory Mercury (Piano)
Kirnu Cream (A fun arpeggiator)

A pretty modest collection but one that is growing slowly but surely!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

For The Love Of Woodwinds.


The venerable Woodwind section. I've never really used it in my pieces, but I do love listening to them. Especially when they are used well. Media-wise Ennio Morricone and Jerry Goldsmith do them the most justice. It takes a certain talent and subtlety to bring them to the fore (and well) but being I do love a good brass section, I've overlooked them.

Let's be honest, a loud enough brass instrument on it's own could probably demolish and entire orchestra, and seeing as I don't do "subtle" well, it's been a learning curve both writing and producing a piece which utilises two woodwind instruments as the lead. Namely the Oboe and the Flute.

I've actually employed an older piece (Magpies & Rockstars Pt. I) to create this piece and I've kept it true to the original but I've replaced the guitars with Violas & Violins and the two above instruments. I didn't want to copy it exactly as regards melody and the two Woodwinds both compete and harmonise with each other throughout the piece, but never impeding each other. I hope. I through in a restrained trumpet duo just to add a little "ooomph" in the final third. I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed producing it. Thanks for listening.


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Opus Pica Pica: An Insight

This piece of music is split into three sections and it is an aural study of the relationship I have with my better half. The first piece was originally written for a film I was in talks to score. This fell through, not through animosity - more so lack of communication. I hope the film makers in question treat those who choose to work with them in a more respectful way than ignoring them completely as they wont be going too far in the industry based on what I've experienced.... Rant Over.

I was thrilled with this piece of music. I was also afraid it would never see the light of day in context to the above. It was written to convey fear, dissolution but ultimately, hope. I realised it was merely a reflection of everyone's journey and it was only the beginning......

My wife is a fantastic muse - so much personality, so much passion. She fuels almost everything I do, musically. So I took the first peace and rejigged it a little bit. This is the first instrumental track in which I've not used any synth sounds to stay true to a more classical sound.

Part I: Ups & Downs. The story of how the road in life is never straight for us or indeed anyone.

Part II: Silver Linings. This is signalled by a playful bass line and grows into a choir led crescendo with flutes and some unexpected glass armonium.

Part III: When We Soar. Violas and Violins duel in opposing but complementary melodies while accompanied by big drum ensembles in stereo which grow in intensity towards the end whilst the glass armonium returns in a more rhythmic, less chaotic fashion this time.

For the curious "Pica Pica" is the latin for the Eurasian Magpie. "Magpie" is a playful name I call my wife for how easily distracted she is. Like a magpie to a shiny object....






Monday, 17 July 2017

Piano musings: "Mercury"



It appears I've been neglecting my blog quite a bit recently.....

I've been up to my ears in work commitments. Alas, retail  is a cruel mistress. But as always - there is plenty of time for music and I finally got around to securing myself a piano simulator. Which is frankly incredible, as the piano is my favourite means of composing! I wanted the best of the best and I researched all possible software before discovering "Mercury" for Kontakt by Waves Factory. It's a HUGE sample factory based on Freddie Mercury's Fazioli piano which he employed at the turn of the 90's before his untimely death. A huge chunk of his work from "Innuendo" and "Made In Heaven" were either composed or performed on this particular piano, which now resides in "Metropolis Studios", London.

I'm frankly blown away by the sound. It is truly remarkable, but due to such a huge amount of sampling it is quite taxing on the CPU so I don't employ all 5 mic positions at once. Nevertheless it sounds phenomenal and I am looking to using it on some of my pieces very soon. For the curious, here's a demo video: