Exotic Music for a Video

Exotic Music for a Video

 I’ve been contributing music to a game development team; we are producing a visual novel. It’s still a way off, but it is a lot of fun putting together all the moving parts.

I composed a 4-minute piece of music, “A World Away” for the game. It has an exotic flavor — the game story takes place on an alien world. So, I thought, what if I were to put the music together with a video, just for fun? I thought about the theme of the video, and came up with the idea of “waterfalls”. So, below you can view the finished product.

I used virtual instruments from four libraries:

1) Stefano Maccarelli’s library titled Elements: Modern Scoring Synth for the classical guitar,

2) Aaron Venture’s Infinite Woodwinds for the soprano saxophone,

3) Stefano Maccarelli’s library Ethera Gold 2.5 for the vocals, and

4) Native Instruments’ Spotlight Collection: Middle East for the percussion.

I began the composition process by starting with a classical guitar from the Elements: A Modern Scoring Synth library. The video here shows the VST (Virtual Studio Technology) interface for the Guitar. If you play this short video with an introductory guitar solo, you will see the sphere modulating; it has no real meaning–it’s just a fancy effect for our visual pleasure! I implemented two separate tracks for the guitar; the one shown is for an arpeggiation track, and another track (not shown here) for the bass notes. If you blow up the video, you can see the piano keys at the bottom playing the arpeggios.</h3>

Here I show a picture of the FX Rack in the VST. I’ve circled the “Delay” panel to indicate that there is a big delay inserted into the processing. This delay is responsible for the echo effect that you can hear in the guitar. This effect is especially noticeable at the end, after the guitar stops playing after time 0:10.

The yellow-colored square indicates that also some amount of “EQ” (Equalization) is being applied. This shapes the tone of the guitar sound. The “LO” indicates that the bass is being attenuated a bit, while mid- and high-frequencies are boosted a bit. The original guitar has a bit of a “twangy” sound; quite natural in this type of guitar.

I have applied some reverb to the guitar, but not inside the VST; instead I used the “LA Guitar Venue” impulse response from EW Spaces II.

Next we come to the soprano saxophone, which plays the melody for the first time. The image shows the VST interface for the Infinite Woodwinds virtual instrument. I love the Infinite Woodwinds (and Infinite Brass) virtual instruments. They are so playable, and do not rely on any keyswitches at all!

The short video clip here shows how the VST interface responds to the soprano sax. Note on the right hand side, how the Vibrato Depth varies continuously, as does the Flutter. Of course, the Dynamics, controlled by the “mod wheel”, also varies continuously. In addition, I applied the pitch wheel a bit, to give the instrument some inflections–I believe this helps to make the instrument a little more believable!

The next section of the song is a male vocal. He sings the same melody as the soprano sax, but in phrases. The video shows the VST interface. In the middle of the interface is a small window showing the phrase’s waveform. If you blow up the video to full-screen size, you can see the waveform better, along with the vertical line that flows from left to right with each phrase.

I actually used four instances of this virtual instrument; this video shows only one of them. Each instance controls a different set of “presets” that are in one particular musical key. This particular instance if for the key of F-major, and it was originally sung to fit a tempo of 95 beats per minute.

The third and final section of the song is a duet between the same male vocalist and a female. The male part is an exact repetition of the previous section, while the female part is a counterpoint sung in response. Again, if you blow up the video to full-screen, you can see the waveforms of the individual phrases. This VST allows me to choose any subset of the waveform to play; I generally allow the entire waveform to play, as it fits an integer number of measures. Here, the female preset is in the key of D-minor, which works for the relative key of F-major.

While the Middle East virtual instrument allows you to play individual notes on each instrument, instead I elected to perform the percussion track using a set of loops. The VST interface allows you to choose from a wide variety of styles, patterns, intensities and instruments. Interestingly, the Intensity dial controls the complexity of the pattern. This video is a solo of the percussion track during a transition section. The left panel in the video shows a portion of the VST interface, while the right panel shows a segment of the DAW’s piano roll. There are lots of notes in the piano roll; the percussion is actually quite complex!

So, here is the final video. I downloaded a bunch of video clips from Pexels and from Pixabay. Then I imported them into a project in DaVinci Resolve. I merged the music track with the video clips. The result is shown in the video below. I call it “A World Away“. Enjoy!

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