Archive for category Tips and Trix

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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Far Away, new single from Haap


We have a new single out with Haap 🙂

The powerful “Far Away”. Let me just get the links out of the way so that I can write about all the nerdy techincal bits.

on iTunes:
in Spotify:
youtube preview:

“Far Away” is a song about the desperate feeling of “not being where I am supposed to be in my life”, but it also encourages you to hold on to what you know is right. Big feelings in a very dramatic song. Just the way we like it!
Heidi holds nothing back in her performance in this song. You’ll notice that we’ve kept a lot of her breath noises etc. between her lines. It is kept there for the drama. Overall there isn’t much polishing or sweetening done to the vocal track. It’s raw and rough.

I also want to mention the very high note she sings at 3:04. It is an F above high C. That’s very high 😉 But it is not stuck in there just because Heidi can sing that high. It makes sense both in the musical structure of the song, and also lyrically and dramatically. Listen to how she sings “awaaaay” right before the high note (at 3:00). You can hear so many overtones in her voice, so for me it feels like she is almost already up there on that high note. And story-wise she is at her most desperate point in the song. Endre (who runs the neighbour studio to ours), said it best: “It makes no sense to hold back in this song, go all the way”.

There’s a crescendo through the entire song. The song starts very soft, and the overall sound is very “thin” in the beginning. It keeps growing in intensity and depth right up until the very end. This might make the song a little less … radio-friendly…? or ear-bud-friendly? There are dynamics! But again, it makes perfect sense for the story in the song to arrange it this way. Thankfully, the mastering engineer at Abbey Road picked up on this, and kept the song very dynamic. So listen to “Far Away” on a good sound system as well, and you will be sonically rewarded for it 😉

We compose and work in Nuendo. Why Nuendo? We do sound and music for big projects for TV and similar also in this studio, and Nuendo is very stable and reliable… so that’s why 🙂 It just works.
I can’t remember the specific plugins we used, but there’s definitely some UAD plugins used. Certainly the 1176, Harrison EQ and Lexicon 224 reverb. And for the more sound-design bits, I usually reach for CamelSpace, CamelPhat or the Uhbiks. And Altiverb… and maybe some Cooper Time-Cube on the lead voice.
Camelspace is probably a very old plugin by now, but it is so … dependable 🙂 For those that are not familiar with it. It is a multi-fx plugin. It has a filter unit, an echo machine, a reverb, a panner, a flanger, a distortion unit etc etc. And most importantly, right in the middle of it, there is a sequencer, which means you can add movement and expression to an otherwise “flat” sound. Listen for the “helicopter/guitar” sound that appears a couple of time in Far Away, for example at 2:18 or 2:39. That is originally just a long note, a straightforward synth sound, But CamelSpace is chopping it up and throwing it around, and the result is something completely new and rhythmically interesting.

CamelPhat is one of my “secret weapons”. It is the tool I use for the huge growly bass sound that appears in so many of our tracks.
Try this at home:
Feed a normal bass sound into CamelPhat. Turn the tube saturation way up, and the mechanical saturation up ca half of that. Slide the lo-pass filter way down. Add modulation to taste. What you get is a wild bass sound that sounds like a trapped monster trying to escape from a cage. That’s perfect for the Haap sound. A constant danger lurking in the deep darkness, and Heidi’s beautiful voice soars high above it.

Enough rambling for now 🙂 Remember you can always stop by our facebook page and ask a question:


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Two Sonar videos

by Scott Garrigus from Digifreq. Good stuff 🙂

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A few of the many reasons to love Alchemy

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Audiosnap 2.0 in Sonar

Using SONAR 8.5.3’s AudioSnap 2.0 to sync up MIDI and audio tracks for maximum tightness and punch

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