sound fx

Shifting Perspective

It's been quite a while since I last posted on here. A lot happened the past week. I played at a Nu Metal tribute gig that went reasonably well in terms of the performance, but in terms of crowd turnout and organization, it might have been just decent. I see the music in scene in Delhi as a consequence of a trickle-down effect. If the pub's shit and organizer's shit, it's usually us musicians that have to bear the brunt of the kickback. Things get complicated. I try and concentrate on what matters - the music.

Learning how to scratch with an APC 40 is never easy, but only if you test your abilities in the higher waters, by doing something new, by challenging yourself, do you get some sort of self-satisfaction. So there I was at a pub trying to make it work, and it did. Mostly.

 
 

But the problem kind of started not before our gig, but rather after it. I initially thought I would go home right after playing the gig, but my love for music did not really allow me to go back home while a cool gig was happening. But then at around midnight, in between a band's set. People were asked to get out and go home. Apparently a couple of people got a little too drunk. Some musicians weren't given food/drinks that they were promised all in the name of organizers trying to make a quick buck. The sound engineer was pushed around a bit. Things escalated. The whole episode didn't have a good aftertaste in my head. Even though the gig went rad.

A day later, I embarked on a roadtrip to Chandigarh, a small city in Punjab where most of my relatives live, including my grandmother who I hadn't seen in quite a long time. It was a bit transformative to see my 92-year old grandmother kicking ass and being really healthy at her age. We talked a lot. It's amazing how much old people can give you a reality check on life, what you're doing and where you're going with it. I spent the remainder of my trip wondering what my next big interesting project was going to be. I'm still pretty clueless, but thinking is still a start, right?

The Roots

As another year passes me by, it seems like only yesterday my journey into the world of music had begun. Yesterday being Holi, I realised how remarkable my Holi was last year when I was working on a project that combined all sorts of noises into a background score track. At times like these, you cant help but get nostalgic and wonder how it all begun, whether you would have done anything differently or what would have happened had you not gone down certain paths. I find myself listening to songs and revisiting ideas that got me interested in music in the first place.

When I was about 11 years old, my first interaction with music that seemed interesting was rap music. My sister used to record mixtapes from the radio and dance to them, and one day I wondered into her practice room just to listen to music and 'Without Me' by Eminem started playing. What immediately attracted my attention was the fact that how everything was so brilliantly syncopated rhythmically while Eminem rapped and it sounded fun. An eventual connection with rap music developed over the next couple of years and I became a huge Eminem fan.

That was of course before the teenage years struck and my first contact with genres like Nu-Metal happened. While I very strongly rejected that genre of music the first time I heard 'Hybrid Theory' by Linkin Park, I started liking it as I kept listening to it. And that is where the power of groove lies. If your music is groovy and keeps the listener interested, you've done 95% of your job as a musician.

 
 

Forwarding to present day, I've spent the entire day doing nothing more than writing an article, and figuring out how to play the samples/fx for One Step Closer by Linkin Park. Apparently old habits die hard. A friend called, one thing led to the other and turns out I'm doing the FX/Samples for a few of the songs being played at a Nu Metal Cover night being held at Turquoise Cottage, a nearby gig hotspot. 

Talking to a friend, I realised I feel like DJ Hahn and I hysterically kept laughing for about ten minutes. The reason? I don't know. I don't think I've ever seen myself as a DJ person in strict sense of the word. I think the word DJ has been bastardized, ruined and completely destroyed by the present culture where it can mean a variety of things and not all of them might be good.

Reminds me of the rather cringe-worthy cover of Somewhere I Belong I did 6-7 years ago when I used to actually be a rap fan, not anymore though. But I realise that roots, the crazy thing about them is once they grow, they're set in stone. You can't move them. You could always create a new tree. But that weird pull will always stay there like a sour first-relationship gone bad.

Oh, and more APC 40 goodness coming your way this Sunday, woooot.

Wrapping it Up

I've almost reached the end of my music score for the entire movie, and it has been quite an interesting journey. Even though, I had set my mind on having a total of 14 tracks in the final arrangement, I decided to add a couple more in the end as I felt like the movie could use some extra filler music.

There was also the question of the ending credits and what music that would consist of. Even though I was sort of lazy and unwilling to work on some more music for now as it has been a long month, I still somehow mustered up the energy to create a reprise of the opening song as an ending. I wouldn't really call it much of a reprise as it drifted pretty far off from what the first track was supposed to be.

The song had turned into quite a mess before I completely scrapped it off and started working on it again from scratch. I decided to combine a few trip-hop beats with a sense of doom and an eerie feeling provided some absolutely crazy FX. Somehow, I feel like it always helps to keep an open ending to movies as they leave so much for things to be interpreted in so many different ways.

Finally, I was done with entire score about two hours ago. Went through all the tracks twice, and now it's time to chill.

Until next time, folks.

 
 

Eerie or Weird?

'To be eerie or to be weird?' That is the question I'm asking myself while working on music for a horror film. While the occasional orchestral treatment is always there to get back to, what matters is how much one can push the boundaries in terms of whats acceptable as music, what's not.

A recurring theme throughout the score I'm working has been unusual percussion. While on one track I used white noise as percussion, in another I've used ethnic/african instruments like bongos and tablas. And then there's another that had sounds of decapitating heads, swords and animal howls (check out 'Cloak and Dagger' on my Soundcloud) I believe making music for film is all about creativity.

Now I know african instruments are not usually as wide spread as probably decapitating heads in horror movies, but it always helps to envision things from a different perspective and find the new in the old or vice-versa.

 
 
 
 

Part of how the african sound in that one track came about was a consequence of what happened yesterday. My film producer friend shared a snapshot of the 'monster' in the movie that sported a bird mask of sorts and was staring down from a flight of stairs.

The tribal mask seemed to give out a very ethnic and creepy voodoo vibe, so I went back to the basics. started with bongos, added orchestral percussion like bells and and odd sticks to the mix and a sitar pluck on top of it. It seemed almost like an african dance that was ritualistic. It was creepy.

Lots of times, I find it easy to start a track but much more difficult to end them. Now there is always the good ol' fade out or gradual muting of secondary elements to come back to the core, but I wanted something unique and eerie for that track in particular. I layered about twelve orchestral string sounds to once again create something very dissonant and Hitchcock-ish and to my surprise, it actually worked!