Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jungle Grunge (Listening Guide)

My most recent piece is that of a Jungle-themed area. Hilariously enough, I don't even think there is a Jungle-esque area in the game itself, but either way I decided to finish the project.

Something I plan on doing for this blog is having a sort of listening guide that you can follow along as you hear these pieces, giving you an idea of whats intended from me, how I came about doing something, or anything else related to the piece.

If you'd rather have an unfiltered experience then go ahead and listen to the tune without reading the guide.

And now, here is the original piece:

Jungle Grunge by Project Panda Music

Hit the jump for the listening guide.

Listening Guide for Jungle Grunge:
  • 0:00-0:08: An exotic drum intro helps set the mood. The drums have light reverberation on them to create a wider atmosphere and depth.
  • 0:08-0:25: Enter the bass, a shaker and the chirping. The bass has a a heavy distortion which makes the sound itself sit in the upper-low range. There is also a light reverberation on the bass as well, and most sounds in this song will contain reverberation (further noted as reverb) to an extent for the reasons explained earlier. The shaker helps set a conventional rhythm alongside the exotic rhythm that the drums are leading. The chirping is set to sound like a creature in the jungle, a monkey or bird of sorts. At ~17 seconds there's a bell flourish that starts at a high register and rolls to a lower register, escaping as it blends in with the rest of the sounds sitting at the same lower register. The bells provide more randomness to the piece.
  • 0:25-0:32: The bass rhythm kicks in full force, with a groovier sound that drives the song as a whole. Some sound effects I made are heard, to create a fuller listening experience. They are specifically set to sound like animal noises. I will do a post on sound effects in the future and explain these further.
  • 0:32-0:49: The main flute melody enters on the right. Some light synth pads are played on the left, emphasizing certain beats as well as rounding out the sound. The flute is a bird at certain points, fluttering up or down a scale quickly, as if flying through the jungle.
  • 0:50-1:06: The bass returns to its slower, introductory line hinting at a transition. A pan flute picks up the melody now (listen to the flute before and the pan flute now. There is a distinct difference between the sounds if you pay attention). The pan flute flutters like the flute did, but emphasizes the same notes as the synth pads on the left. The pan flute resolves its phrase on the same note as the bass.
  • 0:50-1:48: The song repeats without the intro. VGM (Video Game Music) tends to be repetitive.
  • 1:48-2:20: The breakdown. A crashing sound effect is used to ease the transition (I will do a post on transitioning eventually). The drums slow down a lot, and the shaker drops off completely.A warm pad fills the lower-middle/middle range. The pan flute and the flute dance here. The pan flute begins on the right, calling the flute with a simple three note progression. The flute hears this, and flutters quickly up a scale to meet the pan flute and settle on the same note. The pan flute then takes the lead in the dance, playing another three note progression to a lower note, and the flute follows suit shortly after. The animal sound effects are heard again to provide a rounder more complex listening experience. During the last phrase of the flute/pan flute dance, the flute slides to a higher note immediately before the phrase breaks and the bassline re-enters. This is to set an expectation that a transition will occur, allowing the bass to flow from the breakdown rather than rudely interrupt it.
  • 2:20-End: Repeats.

    Following my completion of this song, I had a conversation with my friend Jake, who is working beside me on the VGM music production. Unlike me, Jake has been studying music for a long time, so he knows his shit. He proposed that the flute melody, although good, did not fit the theme of fleeting randomness that the rest of the song implies. A "fleeting" flute melody is what I decided to do.

    Here is the final version of the song:

    Jungle Grunge (Fleeting) by Project Panda Music

    The main flute melody is shortened and more sporadic, with the fluttering sounds becoming the primary focus. This lends itself to the song better than the previous iteration.

    Side-note: I was fiddling around in FL Studios when it struck me that I would inevitably have to create sound effects for the game as well, which is something I had never previously tackled. I decided to just see what I could do without much effort, so I took a steel drum sample and threw like four effects on it. It ended up being the chirping sound that is used in Jungle Grunge. Right when I heard the "chirp" I immediately thought a monkey which put me in the jungle. Thus, I began writing Jungle Grunge.

    1. Beat - A beat is a single specific moment of music.
    2. Breakdown - A section of the song different from the main section included to provide contrast and to  break up the repetitiveness of the piece. 
    3. Distortion - The sound is distorted, or disfigured providing texture and flavor.
    4. Note - Not to be confused with a Beat, a note is an instance of music. Notes have characteristics such as pitch and length.
    5. Phrase - A section of music regardless of length. (Beats are word count, Notes are specific words, and Phrases are paragraphs to a Song, which is an essay).
    6. Pitch - Frequency of a note. The higher the pitch, the faster the frequency, the higher the note sounds.
    7. Progression - A series of notes that tends to be repeated.
    8. Range - The relative area of a frequency. A "low-range" note would have a frequency below 500hz. A "high-range" note would have a frequency much larger.
    9. Register - Similar to range, an area of frequency. Low register contains lower notes, aka lower frequencies. 
    10. Reverberation - the remnant of a sound after the sound has already been played. Similar to an echo.
    11. Scale - A specified progression of notes in a musically appropriate manner (not every combination of notes is a scale).
    12. Synth Pads or Synthesizer Pads - A simple electronically produced sound.

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