The first ambient music I made for Glitch was for Groddle Island. I’ve been saving it for last, but I was struggling with a couple of the other tunes, so I finally switched to what many glitchlings referred to as the “frantic banjo” music. Indeed, there is a lot going on here! My roots are in folk music, so I didn’t have much background making ambient tracks. This was one of my first stabs. I think, though, by the end of my three years working with Glitch I had a better grip on spacing things out and using tempo to do that.
For the longest time the Groddle music was the default music that played for new hubs if there wasn’t new music already made. I often didn’t find out about new hubs until they were already in, so everybody heard this music a lot.
The Groddle Forest made me think of the forest in the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia where an annual fiddle festival is held. It’s not a festival based around performances, but of people playing music together. The music is Appalachian and it can be trance-like. It’s is common to zone out on a tune for 20 minutes straight!
The inspiration for the Groddle music came from the experience of walking around in the forest and listening to an orchestra of loud insects blend in with the different jams echoing through the trees and mountains into the wee hours of the morn. If you were moving around the blend was constantly changing but almost always harmonious.
This was the basic template for the music of Ur: painting an aural landscape.
It’s amazing how organic and lifelike old analogue synthesizers can sound. I spent an afternoon with my friend Chris Stringer recording him fooling around on an old Arp Synth of his. You can hear that animal/insect-like sounds throughout the track.
I try to include instruments that can’t be replicated by midi or samples as much as possible. Pedal steel is one of them. I recruited arguably one of Canada’s most respected players to play on this track: Burke Carroll.
My apologies for not giving you an update last month! It’s hard to believe it’s approaching a year since I thought I would have this project done. Aaaaaghghgh!!! I’ve got the bulk of the work done for Spry Fox’s “Road Not Taken” so I’m going back into high gear on the Soundtrack.The good news is that I’ve also turned down a couple projects this month so that I can really focus on this (wuuut?!!). It’s so hard for me to say no to things, but I’m learning! (oh so slowly..) Just wish I had that sense a year ago!
I feel like I’ve made it through my biggest hurdle which has been the ambient tracks: distilling all these short two minute sections into coherent songs. IX and Kajuu have been so hard because there’s soooo much material them. I can’t wait till I’m just punching holes for the music box strips!
Here’s a taste of what I always called Kajuu music. This includes less than half the music I made for those hubs like Kajuu, Andra and Salatu, but flows so well together that I might have to make a different song — perhaps for the “out-takes”.
Some background on this track: It happens to be in 5/4 and is part of the lore that I was trying to build around the music of Glitch. The music from the Ancestral Lands and the Ancient Caves to the North East was written in 11/8 (just like the trailer), which makes sense since this is where the music of Ur originated (don’t you know?), and the easiest way to count in 11 is 5+6 or visa versa.
Soooo even though the hubs that surrounded the Ancestral Lands maintained some elements of the ancient music, it was diluted somewhat: whereas the coastal highlands gravitated towards the six feel, the rocky outcrops to the southeast gravitated towards the five. Some nerdery for you!
I wanted the music of Ur to feel like it was it was the folk music of the land much in the same way that traditional music exists in our own world.
P.S. Are you keen and want to have some input on one of the tracks!? Download these sections from the IX music and put them in a playlist. Listen to them, mark down the sections that you love the most, and then let me know! email@example.com.
I’ll have another update for you in a couple of weeks!
Hello Most-Patient-Supporters. As many of you know I’ve been side-tracked, working on a new project with Glitch’s head artist Kukubee. I couldn’t pass up another opportunity to work with him! It’s a game by Spry Fox called Road Not Taken that will be released on Playstation and Steam. Sony recently published a post that I wrote about making the audio for that game on their blog. I’m close to wrapping that project up and have vowed not to take on another project until your perks have been shipped!
I’m still enjoying going through all of the music that was created for Glitch. The biggest challenge has been going through the ambient music that will appear on the Soundscapes album. Now that I’ve got a pretty good grip on most of those tracks, it’s a pleasure to turn to some of the more succinct tracks that will appear on the Variations portion of the Soundtrack. Here’s a peak at some of those (these embeds might not work on your mobile device):
One of the most fun things about making the music for Glitch was getting to work with all of these great musicians you hear on Rainbow Run and Game of Crowns. I’ll take the time to tell you all about them in a future post.
I think the last hubs that were created before the announcement of Glitch’s imminent shut-down might have been Nottis and Drifa. It wasn’t on purpose, but it seems like the music that was made for those snow covered lands was foreshadowing it.
I thought this would be a good tune to send out to you all during all of these celebrations that seem to cluster around the Winter Solstice. Fitting music to be working on during the big ice storm we had in the Toronto area as well. Put it on as background music as you enjoy family, friends or quality alone time.
Best wishes to you all. Merry Glitchmas.
Hello Glitch Soundtrack supporters! Glitch is very much on our minds on this anniversary of Glitch shutting down for good. It’s been too long since my last update. You know when you want to write somebody a letter, but you want to sit down and take the proper time to do it, so you put it off, and then the longer you put it off, the more important it seems that it should a good one, so you put it off even more… Yeah..
It’s also been a year since the Soundtrack campaign was successfully funded, and I did not imagine it taking this long! Thank you so much for your patience! Every day that goes by with this unfinished project weighs on me. Projects with hard deadlines have been hogging my attention (dammit!), but progress is being made!
It is still a joy to going through the ambient music and solving the puzzle of making succinct songs out of long meandering sections. Check out the music blocks in progress!
In honour of this anniversary I thought I could give you an inside look into the making of the “11 Giants” song that I made for the 2010 Glitch teaser.
Thanks again for your patience and I promise to make the updates more regular. Hopefully I won’t have to do to many more before I finish!
It began with this little demo that Stewart Butterfield (stoot) sent me, which the Tiny Speck team ended up adding as the super rare SB-1 musicblock as a prank.
Stewart is a great musician. We used to play a lot together in the 90’s, which is how I ended up working with Tiny Speck. This teaser is probably the one thing I got to collaborate with Stewart the most on, and it was lots of fun.
I wanted to develop a melody, so I fired back a couple of ideas like this:
and ended up with this:
I’ve always learned from Stewart to keep thing interesting so I decided to write the song in 11/8 since it was about 11 Giants. It’s not a common division so I had to figure out how to make it sound natural. I started listening to a lot of Kopanitsa — a Bulgarian music and dance — where the 11 is divided like this: 2+2+3+2+2. It goes by so fast though that you can’t learn it by counting, it’s more like pulses, or a feeling. I tried but I couldn’t make it work.
Here’s one of the first sketches I did in eleven. It’s pretty square and didn’t move as well as the final version.
Then my friend and Saturday Saints bandmate, Kristin Cavoukian, reminded me about the syncopation that you can hear in this famous jazz piece in 5/4 by Dave Brubeck, who loved to mess with different time signatures. That’s basically what you end up hearing in the trailer, except the 11 is divided as 5+6, so it’s kind of like you add a beat every other bar. You might be able to hear Kristin singing the doo wop stuff with me at the beginning.
We really wanted the music to move quickly with the visual changes, so I focused on finding as many different sounds as I could to introduce as the piece progressed. There were about 60 tracks in this song, (!) and that’s minus the other 30 or so that I dropped like flamenco guitars, fiddle, jaw harp, alternative vocal parts (I found a version where I was doing all the accapella stuff singing “glitch” instead of “doop”).
When Stewart sent me the lyrics, there were a couple of verses that told the back-story of glitch that we didn’t end up using for the teaser. I think I was expected to change them or use them as a starting point, but I couldn’t come up with anything better.
I had this idea to get my friend Kim Sedore to sing the song. You might get a kick out of listening to some of the music that she writes. She’s got a unique voice and it’s great for story telling. When I sent this version to the team with her singing, it was decided that she should be the official narrator of all things Glitch.
You can hear another verse in this timing reference that wasn’t included in the final version:
I needed to get a bunch of people to sing the chorus in the end that helped express that got the idea across that we were all in this together. My friend Kristine Schmitt was having a birthday concert in my neighborhood, and I knew I was going to know everybody there, so I asked if she would me mind forming a choir after the show. It was the end of the night and there were a lot of drinks being had and it’s not normal to sing in 11/8, so it was a bit like wrangling cats, but we got it done! Most everybody there had never heard of Glitch, and after singing the chorus over and over again, people were joking that they felt like they were unwittingly participating in some secret cult.
It took a couple stabs to get the part where we introduce the giants right. You can hear in these versions that I was initially planning on doing the whole first section with just the doo wop section doing the back-up:
I think I knew all along that it needed to be Jed Clampet styles, so it was perfect that my friend Jesse Corrigan who was doing the piano part at the end had a perfect super-low voice for the part.
Jesse did a great job of imitating a piano stride style over 11/8 which is challenging because the main character of stride style is the 2/4 feel.
The saxaphone part is played by a Shimon Diamond I first met as a bluegrass guitar player, but turned out to be a smoking horn player as well.
First we came up with a horn section kind of thing and then he just improvised over it. What ended up in the teaser were just all his passes, unedited and all together. It turned out to be perfect for the chaos.
Listen to this unedited improvisation. Wish I could have used the whole thing. It’s so good. You can hear Shimon laughing in the end “I can’t think of anything else!”
Last, but not least, I have to say that one of my favourite things about this was working alongside Kristel Ottis (sugarQb), who edited the teaser and ended up as Product Manager at Tiny Speck. She had a keen sense of timing and took a lot of cues off of the music, as well as some surprising ones (my favourite is the blender at 1:14).
It’s really rewarding when someone edits well to your music, and when you get to be involved right from the storyboard stage! This song was also a great example of the rich musical community in Toronto that I was able to draw from while making music for Glitch.
It also goes without saying that working to Kukubee’s art is always fun and inspiring!
Hi Glitch Soundtrack supporters! I had to step away from the project in August, but am back at it. Like Kukubee, I’m hoping to goodness I can wrap this up this year!
Listening through the tracks that I’ve put up on soundcloud and the ones I’ve been working on, I’m getting a sense of how I’d like the Soundscapes of Ur album to take shape. I think with a couple of exceptions the songs will weave together nicely without even stopping so that it really feels like you are taking a walk through Ur. I see now that I would like to add track markers to break down some of the longer themes so that you don’t have to wait 10 minutes to get to your favourite part.
By the way, look who showed up at one of my Toronto gigs with a very special present!! Thanks Sophie! (aka Voluptua Sneezelips)
Here are a couple arrangements for all of you that spent a lot of time mining in Ur:
Both of them are from caves, but the one I titled Ancient Caves come from the hubs Callopee, Pollokoo and Massadoe in the East. Do you think that’s a suitable title, or should it be called Ancestral Caves or what? Let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like the Ancestral Lands, this theme is also has the Giants’ primordial 11 beats per measure. It may be a common division in Ur, but not in our world! A local tabla player, Ravi Naimpally, is featured on this track. I shyly told him that it was a bit strange because it was 11/8 but he barely flinched and was in and out of the studio in less than an hour, leaving way more material than I could use!
The other weird instrument you hear on that track is a banjocello which is like a normal five string banjo tuned down an octave.
I’m excited to be re-united with Brent (Kukubee) on Spry Fox’s new game Road Not taken. Here’s a teaser for it:
You can read about it here!
Still plugging away. I had to tear my basement studio apart after the big storm in Toronto last week — got a bit damp! So this is where I’ve been working lately. It’s not too bad!
Here is a peek at the Firebogs music so far. It’s been really challenging to get all the pieces together to flow as one coherent piece. I think it’s coming together nicely though!