“Oh dear” was the first thought that came to mind when I had realized that this blog hadn’t updated since January 2010. The next thought that occurred was “damn, I’ve been busy.” I suppose I should elaborate.
Around two years ago was when my life status started shifting from “composer & industry hopeful” to “active in the industry”. It’s also around when I started working on a little game called Guild Wars 2. I know, I know, you probably haven’t heard of it, but it’s kind of a big deal. But these things, they take time. And, just as I relaunched my personal website as Woodland Alien Music to separate myself from the BS of pretending to be super experienced which plagues many upstarts in the industry, I wanted to at the very least address the gap in updates.
That said, I certainly haven’t been at a lack for content updates! While the Music page hasn’t been updated with new tracks, the SoundCloud playlists on the front page are constantly being updated with what are the best representations of my music.
And along those lines, I’m very excited to announce that I will be providing the full soundtrack for an upcoming RPG from Brian Mitsoda (formerly of Troika and Obsidian) & DoubleBear Productions, Dead State. The game has been in production for several years, but recently launched a Kickstarter campaign which has already surpassed funding!
As part of the promotion for the Kickstarter, I wrote up an interview about my process for writing Dead State’s soundtrack, as well as providing samples of the music!
I will most likely keep the blog up to date as production continues, using both the Kickstarter page and here for insights into the creation of this super exciting project.
Until next time (sooner than 2 years from now),
Hello denizens of the Internet! There are a few new changes going on recently regarding the Music Gallery as well as a few updates here and there. The most prevalent update is the ability to directly download tracks from the Music page. Instead of a superfluous ‘Comments’ link (as no one has ever really commented on individual tracks—though you still can, please do so!) there is now a Download link. This will take you, securely, through Tumblr’s magical gateway to my mp3 storage directory where you can download the music for listening enjoyment at any time.
Other than updating my links and recent work, I’ve generally tidied up the Music page in general for ease of browsing. There’s a bit more space at the bottom, so that the lower music posts don’t run off into obscurity. I also placed the ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ links at the top of the posts so that they’re easier to see! Hopefully this will lead to more plays on the less recent music posts!
And as an aside, I’ve just now updated with my latest chiptune Break Through, so make sure to check it out~
When discussing music with other musicians and composers, it’s inevitable that at some point the topic of this mysterious thing called the “creative process” will come up. It’s often a difficult thing to describe or nail down. How exactly does the music come into existence if not by suddenly taking shape and proclaiming itself glorious?
The answer most people not led by the mystique of divine inspiration will give is sketching, noodling, jamming, or some other variant verb—all of which being words that could be taken vastly out of context.
Granted, this can be understood by most people that play any instrument. The majority of composers write using their preferred instrument of choice, be it piano or guitar. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met many composers that don’t use either a piano or guitar, though obviously they exist! A composer vested in such proficiency can then start playing away and eventually come up with a melody or chords that sound nice. The creative process has begun. From there it’s a matter of playing parts into the sequencer, writing it out on sheet music, or just learning it to play later.
Now, let’s apply this to the fact that my primary instrument is voice. I don’t own a guitar, nor do I even have my keyboard set up in the studio. To be fair, it isn’t much more different than any other instrument—the key factor being that inputting to the sequencer involves much more clicking and programming velocities/dynamics/je ne sais quoi.
The piece I’m working on currently began as a little melody I found myself singing in the shower one morning. Keen on not letting it evaporate into the ether—I had things to do and wouldn’t get a chance to sequence it out—I booted up Sonar, hooked up the vocal mic, and recorded the melody and counter-melody.
A few weeks went by, and finally I had time to expand it out from a sketch into a full piece. Using the original recording as reference, I started sequencing out the main melodic line for my instrument of choice—in this case, the lovely santoor. After that was written out, I played it through several times and started tapping out a rhythmic accompaniment that would end up getting written out as the dumbek line. Just taking it layer by layer, the piece gets built up from its melody into a rich grouping of instruments. (The other two featured at this point are the gyil and a fretless bass that will forgo the Wikipedia treatment.)
The mp3 streaming above is an example of how the piece went from vocal sketch to the full (unpolished) production. While the piece is still a work-in-progress and far from completion, I wanted to share even just a small window into my creative process. More often than not, the vocal sketch is only present during the composition, gone into the air once it’s no longer needed.
©2009 Leif Chappelle
The performances this past weekend were really something spectacular, and I’m extremely grateful to everyone involved for making the concert come together so smoothly. Thank you so much to everyone that came!
For those that weren’t able to, here’s the full piece (at least, the audio portion of it) to check out.
The whole abstract concept for the dance and music started out with a visual analogy: A tree, viewed from one side: beautiful, lush; from the other side, hollowed out and rotting. The concept of turning around to discover hidden truths became key to evolving the melodic themes that run throughout the piece.
An example of this would be main melody itself and its repetitions. It begins as a simple celesta plucking out the notes casually. The next time it’s heard, a piano plays it in an ornamented fashion with various flourishes. As things begin to change, a guitar plays it out of time and begins adding in its own independent elements. The fourth time, a sine wave takes it up and begins sliding it around in a more artificial fashion. The final time, a human voice hums it casually; his own version.
Visually, the dancers wore green patterned dresses. Backs facing the audience, they appeared to be perfectly normal. As they began to turn around, tattered and ragged bits were revealed on the fronts of the dresses. Throughout the course of the piece, each dancer began removing the ragged bits in their own way. Some forcefully, some casually. Some removed the tattered pieces themselves, others obsessed over removing them from other people.
Hopefully this gives you a bit of a look into what the piece consists of and enhances the listening process! Please check it out, and of course feedback is always welcome.
On Friday November 6th and Saturday November 7th, I will be debuting new music accompanying an original piece by Amy Weaver in the dance performance Entitlement by Sapience Dance Collective.
It has been a wonderful opportunity collaborating with Amy, and once again writing new music for dance. Above is a preview of the piece, with three slices from the ~9.5 minute accompaniment cross-faded together.
After the performance’s debut, I’ll put up the full piece and article about its composition so that those who weren’t able to see it live can at least hear the aural element.
If you are in the Seattle area though, please come and see a wonderful evening/afternoon of new work! I guarantee it’ll be worth your while, as all the choreographers and dancers involved are amazingly talented individuals.
For more information about the show, check out the full poster here.
I’ll forgive Naoshi Mizuta for stealing my awesome idea just this once, because what he’s doing with it is really interesting. I kid, of course, because while I’ve always entertained the concept of mixing orchestral ‘tunes with chiptunes, I haven’t actually done anything with it yet. So, beating me to the punch, is the really fantastic (samples of the) soundtrack to Final Fantasy Gaiden: 4 Warriors of Light.
The entire concept of the game is going back and saying hey, what if the original Final Fantasy was being made today for the DS? Therefore everything, from the world design, gameplay systems and music, gets reborn and is both old again and new.
From the samples of the soundtrack released so far, there is a really fantastic assortment of sound samples that range from old NES synths to a more 16-bit oscillation style synthesis to modern instrument samples. By picking and choosing, it seems Mizuta was able to milk the best qualities each generation’s sound style had to offer—from the driving crunchy triangle wave basses to the gorgeous square and sine wave leads, as well as modern percussion and even live instruments such as the great trumpet solo found in the main theme.
I’m a big fan of this approach, and may begin to adapt to it myself going forward. There really isn’t much of a downside to utilizing every tool in a medium’s tool belt when all you have is the richness of music history to back you up.
Very much looking forward to hearing how the rest of the soundtrack shapes up as well as the full tracks themselves! We should find out in a little less than a month when the game and soundtrack launch in Japan.
My apologies for not updating the blog as regularly as I have in the past! Busyness has more or less prevented me from writing anything super pertinent recently, but I assure you that new stuff will be coming soon!
Among the various projects that this fall is bringing, I am currently working on a new collaboration for dance that should be finished around November. Once that is completed, I’m diving straight into my collaboration with Aventurine Music (yup, that’s my dad) on tracks for Music for Creative Dance Volume V. Should be some exciting stuff!
While I haven’t been able to come up with some full-fledged reviews of music I’ve been discovering lately, I should most likely be able to come up with a few batches of mini-reviews, potentially this weekend. Stay tuned!
As I was recently informed by my friend and collaborator Otto Cate, the album that we worked on A Descent into the Darkness has been released on Amazon.com’s mp3 store!
Coming soon as well is an iTunes release, and the album has also made its debut on eMusic, Napster and Rhapsody. We’re certainly making the rounds! Exciting stuff.
While I had only just heard of it recently, SoundCloud is a neat new online service where you can host your original music online and it is extremely easy to share. The whole thing is linked up social network-style, so people can keep up to date with what people they’re following are releasing. The best thing about it to me is that it shows the exact wave-form in the player, making it very informative to us audiophiles (and consequently very familiar for those of us that mixed all the tracks down in our DAW of choice!).
So far the only downside that I’ve noticed is that free members are limited to uploading 5 songs per month, and with only 10 visible at a given time. However, membership only starts at around 9 euros a month (however much that translates to US$) so for professionals it should be pretty affordable to keep an online portfolio up and active.
At Night — ©2009 Leif Chappelle
There’s always something lulling about music that loops. Or, perhaps the secret to looping music is to put the listener into a lulled state. If the music can properly engage them enough to become background noise yet entrance them at the same time, then I’d say the music is doing its job well.
Of course, the Catch 22 here is that for a lulling effect to happen, the music needs to effectively loop as well. Whether it’s a repeating chord progression with riffs on top of it, or an A and B section that connect at either end; the two seem to go hand in hand.
On a side-note to this piece, I’m especially loving the act of constructing instruments as part of this 8- and 16-bit rediscovery. To take raw oscillating wave forms and transform them into a rhodes piano with some after-effects is very satisfying to then write something with.