Making Of voXager » 2007 » January beyond the frontier - per musica ad astra - per musica ad albion

Archive for January, 2007

Birth of an intro

Maybe two weeks ago I’ve started — inspired by a famous classic tune — some experiments with pedal points. For a better fit into the voXager space theme I’ve chosen kind of a moog sound and started with this pattern:

Well, of course the timing was corrected, playing the keys is not really part of my daily routine 8) . To get more volume, some wind and the space organ were added, playing slightly different notes:

Still not knowing where this should end, I’ve played around with the drums and bassline…

… and suddenly the bunch of notes became an oriental touch, which was not intended right from the beginning. To be honest, I didn’t have a clue what this should be about until that moment. From there on everything seemed so clear and obvious, the guitars continued the bassline, some strings and french horns to round out the ancient feeling.

To pay homage to the tune that inspired me right from the start, the sitar sound plays some of the original notes in a different timing (for two reasons: I didn’t want to copy it right away and it fits much more into the mood).
Like building blocks together every part slipped into its position – almost on its own *feel free to make some magic movement right now* 🙂 It’s like the wind in the desert dispensing the rumors of a Fata Forgana – suddenly you realise that nothing happend and only echoes remain…

After listening to it over and over again I wasn’t quite sure if voXager is the right home for this piece of music and asked Helge what he thought about it (not telling him about my doubts). He suggested to keep it as an intro (don’t take it for granted – this may change), because it was ready and complete for itself but too short for a song.

Download Ancient Memories – complete or listen directly:

If it stays on the schedule it truly needs a complete re-recording but you should get the drift 😉

January 30th, 2007

Song 15: Bravery Of A Saurian

“What? Brave saurians? What did the guy smoke?” — No, really, you gotta believe me! Nopileos is his name, and he’s some walking talking lizzard of the third kind. The nice kind! But… let’s start a little earlier.

In october 2006 I bought a nice software instrument that faithfully recreates the sound of a Mellotron. I zapped through the tape banks and let my hands more or less fall on my keyboard, producing this sequence of chords:

That had a quite sad ring to it, so I saved it as “Brennan’s Death”, and made a mental note to use it as an intro to song 8, in which Elena receives information about her friend’s death. After saving the song, I forgot about it for the time being.

In the meantime, Sven had started composing a cool piece of music for exact the same spot on the album, so I was reminded of the Mellotron chords. I dug them out, and after careful consideration, reassigned them to song 15, “Final Part 2 / Bravery Of A Saurian”.

This song, together with the preceding “Final Part 1 / Hero From Afar” is to be the climax of the album. In it, the protagonists escape the patriarch of Nif-Nakh, to be eventually saved by a heroic effort of their saurian friend, Nopileos. He destroys a pursuing jet fighter by crashing his own, unarmed, spaceship into it, which then crashes into the jungle, burning.

Anyways – those Mellotron chords from october were not played very tightly, so I started by fixing the timing. Then I added a concluding chord to the end of the second cycle. To make it sound smoother, I compressed the Mellotron a little and added some reverb. An ugly reverb, admitted, but I don’t have anything better right now. I think the guys in the studio will have the right stuff. Here’s what the Mellotron sounds like after the modifications:

I don’t want the intro to become too long, however, starting with a few bars of acoustic guitar noodling might be nice. So I did that (sounds somewhat like Iced Earth, doesn’t it?), and also added the first few bars of drums:

Perhaps we can have a few lines of vocals here already. I need to think about that.

I have a relatively clear vision of where this is heading. The song will become much faster. I’ll be adding some crushing electric guitar mimicking the rhythm of the drums, and then fall into some instrumental thing before hitting the first vocal part….

But that, kids, is a story for another day…

January 28th, 2007

Money, money, money

Is voXager about money? It’s not, right? Well, here’s the breaking news: It is about money – in a way. However, it’s not about earning money, not in the first place anyway; it’s about spending money. By me, thy humble (and likely, soon to be bankrupt ;-)) initiator of the project.

How so? Wasn’t it the goal to produce an album in the home studio, at no cost at all? No, not quite so – sure, I’d like to cut on the cost as much as possible, but there are things that can’t sensibly be done at home, and additionally, there are a few other factors that need mentioning:

  • Drum recordings. There’s simply no way to do this at home. Except, of course, you’ve got a studio in the basement of your house and have the knowledge how to do things right. I don’t.
  • Vocal recordings. Yes, I own a nice large-diaphgram, tube-amplified condenser microphone, that should theoretically do a fine job. But I have no recording booth, plus, I haven’t got enough experience with that.
  • Mixing and mastering. I’d like to have this done with as much analog outboard equipment as humanly possible, by folks who know exactly what they’re doing. I’ve got to call on somebody else for this as well.
  • Soft- and hardware. I’ve already spent more than €1200 on software, and I’m only counting what I bought specifically for voXager. I’ll spend about the same amount until I’m complete.
  • Distribution. Will be done mostly online, but there’ll also be a limited number of professionally manufactured discs in shrink-wrapped jewelcases with color booklets for your CD shelf. Both, online and physical, will cost a pretty penny – let’s just hope it’s not too damn pretty.

So there you go. Yes, I’d still like to cut on the cost wherever possible, but not if this means compromising quality. I’m aware that, at the end of the day, I’ll have sunken a few k€. I’ll be broke, like, y’know, totally – but rest assured, I’m not going to regret it in the least! The music will be put under a Creative Commons Licence nevertheless, and be freely downloadable just as it was planned right from the start. Yeah, I’m Geezus H. Krist, your saviour, now worship me 😉

Well, not really. But bordering on it, am I not? 😀

January 26th, 2007

How to catch the guitar?

ASK any guitarist on our planet how to record guitars and the answer will probably be: go into a studio, stick your guitar into a tube amp and record the result with a microphone or much better: use different amps and microphones. Allthough this is the “normal” way to do it, it doesn’t guarantee a good sounding result – it’s for sure a matter of recording and studio experience. Apart from that it doesn’t fit to our vision to record most of the music before going into any kind of studio using low cost DAW equipment.

SO have we got a non-starter right from the beginning?

NO way, we wouldn’t be voXager if we couldn’t find a solution 😉 According to countless colourful advertising we didn’t even have a problem, easy way out – just use a modelling amp. Knowing that life isn’t always that easy we gave it a short try…
Just plug in and adjust the level, hit the record button and there you go – but wait, what’s that? As if we didn’t knew it before the guitars were clinically dead afterwards.

DOING it the studio way just in the comfort of our own homes was not even worth thinking about. How liberal can neighbours be? Aside from that there is almost no way to create an accoustic comparable situation outside of a studio – yes, there seems to be a reason why those doggone establishments exist at last.

NOT beeing part of magic circles or using any voodoo techniques, reamping will do the magic for us. The guitar is beeing plugged directly into the computer and recorded with pure clean sound. Those tracks will – electrically adjusted – hit a real amp and then be recorded again. A reasonable agreement between efforts, time and waste of money.

SHREDDING the guitar with clean sound? It doesn’t feel like creating rock music whilst recording not even for us. Therefor the signal of the guitar is splitted and also sent through a distortion pedal. Tape it clean and listen metal 😀
Using a spimple Y-connector pulled down the signal, much better then amp modelling but still an anodyne sound with no balls at all. A little tube preamp boosts up the sound before the signal is splitted and bestows us with a warm natural compression not reached by any kind of amp simulation so far.

THERE will be more lessons to be learned, time will tell. The future lies ahead of us…

January 14th, 2007

Every great song was once an ugly suckling

HERE, on this blog, in the category “making of”, you’ll find reports from the making of songs – voXager style! From the earliest stages right through their adolescense and supposed maturity, it’s all here. You’re supplied with all the gory stuff you’ve always dreamt of, but were to shy to ask: Early draft versions with soulless VST guitar shreddings by keyboardists; shaky keyboard hooks by guitarists, gruesome vocal renditions by both keyboardists and guitarists, incomplete arrangements – you name it, we have it!

BUT on a more serious note, this is not meant as soul striptease of producing musicians. Well, a wee tiny bit, perhaps. But mostly, however, we’d like to document – for ourselves as much as for you – how we’re composing, arranging and recording an entire album of rock music. From our homes, for the most part, and not from a studio. We’ve never done anything like it before, so we’re likely going to run up into a host of problems, some only minor ones, while others will certainly annoy the poop out of us. The bottom line is this: We’re going to find out. We’re not going to stop, and whatever problem will occur, we’re going to find a solution. (If you’re not interested in solutions, however, fine! We’ll join you gloating over our puny selves in a minute :-))

Note that you’ll find only draft versions in this category. Complete songs are in the downloads section.

GET your popcorn. Fetch a beer. Grab your mama. The show begins.

January 11th, 2007

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