Archive for category sound design

Echoes of Sadness

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Teslagrad has been out a few days. I’ve been having a great time blinking around on my laptop. (That sentence makes sense as soon as you get a little into the game.) Blinking is so much fun, so when I get that ability in the game, I just blink around for a while and forget about continuing with the game.

Cats and bears making music.

My lovely collegaue Linn Kahtrin and I are the production duo of the musical score for Teslagrad. Collectively, we call ourselves “Bear & Cat Music Production“. My name almost sounds like Bear in norwegian, and Linn Kathrin… Cathrine.. Cat… you get the idea..bear and cat

The OST – the official soundtrack – was also released on Teslagrad’s launch date. It is available everywhere digitally; iTunes, Spotify, Amazon etc.  A little bug snuck into the OST. Track 22 should be called “Bonus: Haap – Uena” just like track 23 is called “Bonus: Kathleen – Time”. Minor detail…

The reason for including these two bonus tracks,  is that we wanted to include a little musical taste of what Cat and I are up to whe we are not making Teslamusic.
Haap is my “cinematic songs” band, and Kathleen is Cat as a solo artist. We hope you will enjoy these two extra tracks along with the rest of the Teslagrad OST 🙂

Merlin 3rd party matched content on my YouTube, what the !”%&!”%&¤!”????

If you get a message like this on your YouTube account when you’ve made a teslavideo, don’t worry. This is not a takedown notice or anything scary like that. The distribution partner we use for the OST release registers videos that have Teslamusic in its, and that’s it. There’s no follow-up angry notices from us. It is an automated process, and all it means is that it counts as a stream/play when streaming royalties are distributed here in Norway.

The great artist Ugress explains this deal much better than I do:

A few months ago I reported on an agreement for my music on video sharing sites like Youtube. Anyone can use my music as much as they want in personal videos, and the system will recognize it and distribute any ad revenue automatically.
When the system recognizes my music, you might get a message that seems a little cryptic, something like this: 
Your video "Title Of Video", may have content that is owned or licensed by [Merlin] Phonofile, but it’s still available on YouTube! In some cases, ads may appear next to it.
 This claim is not penalizing your account status. 
This message is good news! Phonofile / Merlin are my guys. 
Here is how it works: My label is Uncanny Planet, which is really just a tiny company I run myself. Uncanny Planet delivers and licenses all my material to Phonofile, my digital distributor. Both Phonofile and Uncanny Planet are members of indie label organisation Merlin, who negotiates mega-deals for indie labels towards media giants like Google, Apple, etc. 
This is a nice setup. I concentrate on music, Phonofile concentrate on getting it out everywhere, and Merlin concentrate on making the deals….
I’m sorry it’s not clear from those messages that the content is owned by me, and licensed to Phonofile / Merlin. 

So nothing “dangerous” at all with that message 🙂


We’ve gotten some questions about the production of the music – and we love to share – so there will be a few blog posts from us on this topic. The reviews of the game usually describe the music as adding to the atmosphere, which we think is a huge compliment, as a big part of our work on the soundtrack was to create a “sound” of Teslagrad.  And the inspiration for this comes, of course, from the world of Teslagrad itself.  So it is both grand and broken at the same time, hi and lo-tech mixed, electric and rustique… and for us it was also important to tell the story from the viewpoint of little Tes (which is the best nickname I’ve heard for the un-named protagonist). So how to tie all this together in one varied, but still homogeneous sounding soundtrack?

We created a specific sound palette, a Tesla-orchestra, that plays all the music cues. Another trick is that we re-used certain distinct effects in many of the tracks. And perhaps most distinct, is one I call “Echoes of Sadness”. It is a simple trick that I first learned of from Vangelis and his Blade Runner soundtrack. It works especially well on percussive melodies, like a melody played on a piano.  It is a really simple idea. You send the piano through an echo machine, and add a chorus effect to the echoes. So each echo gets more and more out of tune, and the sound gets washy, and to my ears, very sad. You can hear the effect used a lot in “A Journey Begins“. The harp/piano hybrid sound in the background is drenched in this effect.  You can hear it best at around 00:40

(Btw, there is at least one other Blade Runner reference in the soundtrack.)

Echoes from Germany and Valhalla

Our echo machine of choice is one from Germany: Uhbik. A great echo effect which is so tweakable that it is pefect for the Teslasound. Not only can each echo get sadder and sadder, they can also get progressively darker instead, or brighter.. or just totally out of control. And if you really pay attention, you will notice that our echoes are never perfectly in time… just almost. This is done on purpose. Clinically precise echoes felt wrong for Teslagrad. We needed something more analog. Not digital precision, but analog “close enough”. This is also super easy to set up with the Uhbik delay.

Another effect that creates the Teslasound, is a reverb called Valhalla Shimmer. It pitches your sound either up or down before it applies a huge reverb. The result is a very distinct “shimmer” sound, as made famous by Brian Eno. If I remember correctly, the Art Deco area is a good place to hear this effect. A “problem” with the Valhalla shimmer, is that sounds can easily end up sounding very similar when they are going through this effect. So we recommend creative use of filters both before and after the reverb effect.

In my next post about the Teslagrad soundtrack, I’ll talk more about the specific sample libraries, synths, and real insturments we used for our special Tesla-blend.


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the bridge – early preview of new Haap song

My old controller keyboard that I still use in the studio is a Roland XP-30 with some expansions.
On the “vintage synth” expansion board is a sound that by itself is a reason never to get rid of that keyboard.
It is an Oberheim style pad sound that for me is simply the perfect pad sound. it is featured heavily in this upcoming Haap song.
I should really get aroudn to programming some variations of that sound. it is really “dark” and “heavy”, and it would be great to have some variations that are more “airy” and perhaps with a slightly faster attack.
Anyways, enjoy this preview of the beautiful Haap song “The Bridge”… it is still work in progress, but you will get a good impression of it.

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sound and music vlog: More thunder with SPL Transient Designer

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