Writing and recording the soundtrack to ” Port Appin Sunset” in one day with one laptop and two monophonic analogue synths

Coming back from holiday in Scotland, Chrissie had filmed and edited a wonderful time lapse video of the view from the veranda overlooking Loch Linhe where we stayed, you can read her blog about doing the video here. Having edited the film and sped up 2.5 hours to eight minutes I had the opportunity to add music to it, but only realistically one day to do it in, as we had other plans for the rest of the week. Also that day Chrissie was producing a project of her own in her studio so I had to make do with a makeshift arrangement downstairs (my own studio is 200 miles south!) So I had some interesting limits of one laptop, headphones, two analogue synths (Microbrute and MS20 mini) and the synths contained in Ableton Live (in reality I only used the sampler)

heres the set up;



First things first

I uploaded the film into a track in Ableton Live, then marked out over the film where the significant changes were; this is a sunset time-lapse so I looked for changes of sky colour and so divided up the timeline where the colours markedly changed. From then on I mucked about with my synths trying to find both tone and note that best represented what I was seeing. I had only a day to do this in so I had to be quite decisive about it- I started with the sun, which burns into clouds then worked outward from there.

Monophonic synths and polyphonic voices

As I had only the two synths and only a spongey mini keyboard that could enter chords- I decided immediately not to base stuff in homophonic texture- so I started laying down tracks of single voices on the MS20 then overlaying with another track with single voices on- polyphonic composition.  As both synths only Have MIDI IN, and the alternative keyboard was rubbish the MIDI couldnt be recorded, so I did the whole thing track by track, live, in the traditional analogue studio way. The only effect I really used was the convolution reverb (with the Huddersfield St Pauls sample) and a bit of delay. I did use the sampler for background effects, using one of the synths as a sound source then making it polyphonic.

Heres the result




About stuartrussellcomposer

Composer/ sound artist. Electronic musician. Modern classical composer
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