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The Platform

By ViridianLoom on September 20, 2020 11:00 pm

For this week I decided to try out a new approach for composing. Mostly using just the piano. I've been playing some JRPG's and I was hoping to emulate that style of music, or at least, that's what I was aiming for regardless of whether or not I hit the mark. I'm kind of out of my element so this wasn't what I was hoping it would turn out like.


So the approach was to load up "The Gentleman" piano vst from Kontakt and then to create several midi tracks on just that instrument. Since I don't really have a ton of coordination to play multiple things at once, I figured I'd write different parts for each register of the piano, so like one midi track would be dedicated to the low notes from B0-B2, then another track would be dedicated to B2-B3, then B4-B6 or whatever. That way I could try to stack up different rhythmic elements and/or create harmony. I'm not really sure how well this worked since I don't find this song particularly riveting but I'll give it a few more goes.


Anyways, once I did that, I wrote the tune. I listened for areas where the rhythms sounded too busy, areas where the harmony clashed, etc. Then I took all those different sections and started assigning instruments to them. Honestly, that was the hardest part. I have a bunch of different VSTs but I've never taken the time to make little custom banks of sounds that I like or ever really bothered saving presets I've made. So when I go to load something up like Massive all I'm left with is a shit ton of EDM presets, none of which really match the vibe I'm going for. I swapped out the bass like a dozen times because it was either too fat, too aggressive, too wonky, too low to be audible, or too high to be bass.


On that subject though, I LOVE the soundtracks to some of these modern JRPG games I've been playing. Stuff like Crosscode, Danganronpa, and VA-11 HALL-A. I have no idea what kind of sound pallet to use to replicate that style. They're not really chiptune since the sound is a little more high fidelity, but it still sounds programmed with instrument samples rather than the real deal (with a few exceptions, but like the "slap bass" you'd hear is normally sampled and not a live performance). Does anyone know how that kind of music is made? Is there a popular VST that people use to make that kind of music or do they gather a bunch of free samples online or what?

This submission is licensed by author under CC Attribution Noncommercial No Derivative Works (BY-NC-ND)

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September 21, 2020 2:46 am

I think video game soundtracks in general have gotten really interesting especially with the indie scene opening up lots of different genres, styles, and just lots of unique, original ideas. Your track feels like it could fit in something similar; it gives me some rogue-like dungeon crawling vibes. Loved reading about your process too; really fascinating stuff. Keep it up!

September 21, 2020 7:05 am


Well, I can't say specifically for all the games on that list, but I think Crosscode specifically was going for a classic 90s synth feel. For stuff like that you are going to want to think about the types of synths and hardware that was available at the time, such as subtractive (not as new so not as much used), FM, Linear Arithmetic (a combination of small samples and synthesis), and Romplers (sampled instruments, but smaller than modern libraries). Also think about the types of drum machines that were around at the time, and while most of this style was synths and samplers, don't forget that you could probably throw in a realistic electric guitar in the mix to taste. Luckily a lot of people share their process, a quick search shows that the composer of Crosscode livestreams on occasion (he keeps them unlisted for some reason though). Anywho, Massive wouldn't be my first synth of choice for this style, but there are a few retro patch packs out there. There are however a ton of really good retro synth vsts and sample libraries out there if you dig around. This sound makes me think of stuff like Roland D-50, Korg M1, both of these (and so many more) live on in vst form. I've also seen people do this style admirably on Korg Gadget both for iOS and and Switch. (There are also tons of soundfonts that would fit this genre). Another trick to learning a style is to take a song that you want to learn from, and copy it to your best ability, both transcribing the notes and recreating the instruments used. It won't be perfect duplicate (and you probably shouldn't share it), but it will turbo boost your way to learning any style. I hope this helps!

September 21, 2020 10:26 am
Ipaghost wrote:


Well, I can't say specifically for all the games on that list, but I think Crosscode specifically was going for a classic 90s synth feel. For stuff like that you are going to want to think about the types of synths and hardware that was available at the time, such as subtractive (not as new so not as much used), FM, Linear Arithmetic (a combination of small samples and synthesis), and Romplers (sampled instruments, but smaller than modern libraries). Also think about the types of drum machines that were around at the time, and while most of this style was synths and samplers, don't forget that you could probably throw in a realistic electric guitar in the mix to taste. Luckily a lot of people share their process, a quick search shows that the composer of Crosscode livestreams on occasion (he keeps them unlisted for some reason though). Anywho, Massive wouldn't be my first synth of choice for this style, but there are a few retro patch packs out there. There are however a ton of really good retro synth vsts and sample libraries out there if you dig around. This sound makes me think of stuff like Roland D-50, Korg M1, both of these (and so many more) live on in vst form. I've also seen people do this style admirably on Korg Gadget both for iOS and and Switch. (There are also tons of soundfonts that would fit this genre). Another trick to learning a style is to take a song that you want to learn from, and copy it to your best ability, both transcribing the notes and recreating the instruments used. It won't be perfect duplicate (and you probably shouldn't share it), but it will turbo boost your way to learning any style. I hope this helps!

Thanks ipaghost! That was a ton of info and pretty much gave me the break down I was looking for, now I know where I can start smile I'm super appreciative of the time you took to write that down

September 21, 2020 7:03 pm

It really sounds like something that would work great as a videogame soundtrack. Very cool.

September 22, 2020 11:45 pm

I really dig the main piano riff, it has edge and a great sound. The section from 2:26 is fully boss level type of music. This was really an interesting track, very good especially considering it's kind of a new thing for you. I enjoyed it a lot.

September 23, 2020 5:35 pm

Love the textural choices on this one a bunch. Approaching a sort of hifi version of an SNES JRPG soundtrack! If you wanted to really dive deeper on that sound, I'd deffo second Ipaghost's rec of those older linear synthesis methods.

September 23, 2020 6:12 pm

Great track and you did capture the SNES RPG vibe for me!

Ipaghost wrote:


Well, I can't say specifically for all the games on that list, but I think Crosscode specifically was going for a classic 90s synth feel. For stuff like that you are going to want to think about the types of synths and hardware that was available at the time, such as subtractive (not as new so not as much used), FM, Linear Arithmetic (a combination of small samples and synthesis), and Romplers (sampled instruments, but smaller than modern libraries). Also think about the types of drum machines that were around at the time, and while most of this style was synths and samplers, don't forget that you could probably throw in a realistic electric guitar in the mix to taste. Luckily a lot of people share their process, a quick search shows that the composer of Crosscode livestreams on occasion (he keeps them unlisted for some reason though). Anywho, Massive wouldn't be my first synth of choice for this style, but there are a few retro patch packs out there. There are however a ton of really good retro synth vsts and sample libraries out there if you dig around. This sound makes me think of stuff like Roland D-50, Korg M1, both of these (and so many more) live on in vst form. I've also seen people do this style admirably on Korg Gadget both for iOS and and Switch. (There are also tons of soundfonts that would fit this genre). Another trick to learning a style is to take a song that you want to learn from, and copy it to your best ability, both transcribing the notes and recreating the instruments used. It won't be perfect duplicate (and you probably shouldn't share it), but it will turbo boost your way to learning any style. I hope this helps!

This is the best response ever.

September 23, 2020 6:38 pm
orangedrink wrote:

Great track and you did capture the SNES RPG vibe for me!

Ipaghost wrote:


Well, I can't say specifically for all the games on that list, but I think Crosscode specifically was going for a classic 90s synth feel. For stuff like that you are going to want to think about the types of synths and hardware that was available at the time, such as subtractive (not as new so not as much used), FM, Linear Arithmetic (a combination of small samples and synthesis), and Romplers (sampled instruments, but smaller than modern libraries). Also think about the types of drum machines that were around at the time, and while most of this style was synths and samplers, don't forget that you could probably throw in a realistic electric guitar in the mix to taste. Luckily a lot of people share their process, a quick search shows that the composer of Crosscode livestreams on occasion (he keeps them unlisted for some reason though). Anywho, Massive wouldn't be my first synth of choice for this style, but there are a few retro patch packs out there. There are however a ton of really good retro synth vsts and sample libraries out there if you dig around. This sound makes me think of stuff like Roland D-50, Korg M1, both of these (and so many more) live on in vst form. I've also seen people do this style admirably on Korg Gadget both for iOS and and Switch. (There are also tons of soundfonts that would fit this genre). Another trick to learning a style is to take a song that you want to learn from, and copy it to your best ability, both transcribing the notes and recreating the instruments used. It won't be perfect duplicate (and you probably shouldn't share it), but it will turbo boost your way to learning any style. I hope this helps!

This is the best response ever.

Yeah for real, ipaghost dropped a knowledge bomb. Between his suggestions/info and the fact that Reilly Farrell uses the M1 Korg VST for a lot of the tunes they wrote this year, I decided to download the demo and wow this thing is immediately nailing down all the sounds I was looking for. I'm definitely going to buy it soon. It also makes a lot of sense how songs were arranged on it, a lot of the presets split up the key ranges so that bass samples are in the low end and then other instruments are spread out across the keys. So basically what I was trying to do here except already set up so it feels more intuitive haha.

September 23, 2020 6:45 pm
ViridianLoom wrote:

So basically what I was trying to do here except already set up so it feels more intuitive haha.

That's going to be so great...................on your NEW Komplete Kontrol *cough cough*

smile

September 23, 2020 10:33 pm
ViridianLoom wrote:
orangedrink wrote:

Great track and you did capture the SNES RPG vibe for me!

Ipaghost wrote:


Well, I can't say specifically for all the games on that list, but I think Crosscode specifically was going for a classic 90s synth feel. For stuff like that you are going to want to think about the types of synths and hardware that was available at the time, such as subtractive (not as new so not as much used), FM, Linear Arithmetic (a combination of small samples and synthesis), and Romplers (sampled instruments, but smaller than modern libraries). Also think about the types of drum machines that were around at the time, and while most of this style was synths and samplers, don't forget that you could probably throw in a realistic electric guitar in the mix to taste. Luckily a lot of people share their process, a quick search shows that the composer of Crosscode livestreams on occasion (he keeps them unlisted for some reason though). Anywho, Massive wouldn't be my first synth of choice for this style, but there are a few retro patch packs out there. There are however a ton of really good retro synth vsts and sample libraries out there if you dig around. This sound makes me think of stuff like Roland D-50, Korg M1, both of these (and so many more) live on in vst form. I've also seen people do this style admirably on Korg Gadget both for iOS and and Switch. (There are also tons of soundfonts that would fit this genre). Another trick to learning a style is to take a song that you want to learn from, and copy it to your best ability, both transcribing the notes and recreating the instruments used. It won't be perfect duplicate (and you probably shouldn't share it), but it will turbo boost your way to learning any style. I hope this helps!

This is the best response ever.

Yeah for real, ipaghost dropped a knowledge bomb. Between his suggestions/info and the fact that Reilly Farrell uses the M1 Korg VST for a lot of the tunes they wrote this year, I decided to download the demo and wow this thing is immediately nailing down all the sounds I was looking for. I'm definitely going to buy it soon. It also makes a lot of sense how songs were arranged on it, a lot of the presets split up the key ranges so that bass samples are in the low end and then other instruments are spread out across the keys. So basically what I was trying to do here except already set up so it feels more intuitive haha.

Awesome! I actually really had to hold myself back! I left out a bunch of stuff like the role of the General Midi standard that was a big part of games and consumer synths in the 90s targeted to Japanese gamers. If you get a chance, check out gear like the Roland Sound Canvas series, or Yamaha MU series. They are lower quality than the pro synths, but usually much better than the horrible General Midi wavetables many people think about when they think of GM. If you want to want to evoke the computer-game feel, these will be a good place to look, and the Sound Canvas even has a VST version! There is so much gear from this time period, I really couldn't even begin to scratch the surface, but you might have fun researching it!

September 24, 2020 1:24 pm

It seems pretty on character for Ipa to go off like this. He's definitely the go-to guy and you should follow through on the discord.

Great track too, maybe a little hectic, but appropriately tense.

September 26, 2020 3:51 pm
Ipaghost wrote:
ViridianLoom wrote:
orangedrink wrote:

Great track and you did capture the SNES RPG vibe for me!

Ipaghost wrote:


Well, I can't say specifically for all the games on that list, but I think Crosscode specifically was going for a classic 90s synth feel. For stuff like that you are going to want to think about the types of synths and hardware that was available at the time, such as subtractive (not as new so not as much used), FM, Linear Arithmetic (a combination of small samples and synthesis), and Romplers (sampled instruments, but smaller than modern libraries). Also think about the types of drum machines that were around at the time, and while most of this style was synths and samplers, don't forget that you could probably throw in a realistic electric guitar in the mix to taste. Luckily a lot of people share their process, a quick search shows that the composer of Crosscode livestreams on occasion (he keeps them unlisted for some reason though). Anywho, Massive wouldn't be my first synth of choice for this style, but there are a few retro patch packs out there. There are however a ton of really good retro synth vsts and sample libraries out there if you dig around. This sound makes me think of stuff like Roland D-50, Korg M1, both of these (and so many more) live on in vst form. I've also seen people do this style admirably on Korg Gadget both for iOS and and Switch. (There are also tons of soundfonts that would fit this genre). Another trick to learning a style is to take a song that you want to learn from, and copy it to your best ability, both transcribing the notes and recreating the instruments used. It won't be perfect duplicate (and you probably shouldn't share it), but it will turbo boost your way to learning any style. I hope this helps!

This is the best response ever.

Yeah for real, ipaghost dropped a knowledge bomb. Between his suggestions/info and the fact that Reilly Farrell uses the M1 Korg VST for a lot of the tunes they wrote this year, I decided to download the demo and wow this thing is immediately nailing down all the sounds I was looking for. I'm definitely going to buy it soon. It also makes a lot of sense how songs were arranged on it, a lot of the presets split up the key ranges so that bass samples are in the low end and then other instruments are spread out across the keys. So basically what I was trying to do here except already set up so it feels more intuitive haha.

Awesome! I actually really had to hold myself back! I left out a bunch of stuff like the role of the General Midi standard that was a big part of games and consumer synths in the 90s targeted to Japanese gamers. If you get a chance, check out gear like the Roland Sound Canvas series, or Yamaha MU series. They are lower quality than the pro synths, but usually much better than the horrible General Midi wavetables many people think about when they think of GM. If you want to want to evoke the computer-game feel, these will be a good place to look, and the Sound Canvas even has a VST version! There is so much gear from this time period, I really couldn't even begin to scratch the surface, but you might have fun researching it!

Awww man I haven't thought about the sound canvas in years!  I remember downloading as many midi files of popular songs as I could.  I heard some of my first Pink Floyd tracks through there lol.  I think it was High Hopes.  The GM standard was a good way to learn making music with a limited amount of instruments.  Good times!

September 26, 2020 3:53 pm

Def bringing back those rpg vibes.  Love the progression around 1:20ish.  The changeup extra action part at 2:25 is awesome.  Gave me some Jerry Goldsmith feels too.  Nice work!

September 27, 2020 2:57 pm

Great stuff! Kept it super busy without it every feeling like a mess, absolutely feels like each little section could be looped in a game.

September 29, 2020 8:03 pm

first minute kinda has a NiN feel. Love that.

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