Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Developing the music for "Empyrean"

For this project I wanted to create a fresh, djenty mix with mild eastern influences. I wanted it to have an ambiguous feeling, with an eerie sublime sense to it. I had these distinct visuals that came to me in my dreams and I wanted to recreate it with music. The video sort of happened later on, although I did have the visuals in my mind while composing.

Below here, I'll try to show you my process in coming up with the full track. All these files are just rough ideas and haven't been mixed or mastered, so they just sound like shit, really. However, you can see the process that went into this and you can get a sense of how it was developed.

Concept #1

My first idea was to use techno sounding drums and heavy guitars ad contrast it with vedic chants and ambient voices and synths. I played around this for a few days, but eventually got bored of it. For this I found and used a random vedic chant clip I found on youtube I felt the guitar melody was too loud and wasn't fitting well with the theme of the visuals I had in my mind. I still like it, and maybe I'll re-work on this someday.

Concept #2

After the failed experiment of using techno drums, I thought I'll just fall back to just plain metal. And I came up with this riff. After listening to it for a few days I started to hate it, 'cause it just felt like a cheap Meshuggah rip-off!

Concept #3

I was starting to get frustrated. So I changed my strings, tuned down to G standard and borrowed my friend's Pod X3. Played with it along with Guitar Rig for a few hours and I had this.

I was starting to like the direction this was going, but it still didn't feel like a forest or eerie temple yet.

Concept #4

I was just playing around with the pod non-stop for about a day, and I just digressed a little, and just recorded this for fun.

Concept #5

This was it. I took a few days off, and then one day right after an afternoon nap, I woke up with this tune in my head. So I launched Logic and programmed it as quickly as I could before the idea escaped my mind. This was the first thing I came up with for this piece, the drone sounding guitar part near the end of the piece. As soon as I came up with that riff, I could visualize the "Mother" transforming into the tree of life. I felt like it was fitting well with the imagery I had drawn for concept art.

Concept #5 Extended

Later that night I came up with the intro part. I was just noodling around and the melody just came to me. Then I sat down and figured it on the guitar and recorded it. I also came up with the idea for the bass-line during the break. I knew I wanted to have a segment with just ambient sounds and bass running in to create a surreal atmosphere. Here's my first attempt.


Later that week, my friend Brandon said that he can play bass over it. So I sent him the backing drum tracks and programmer basslines and he figured it in a few days. Then we recorded it at out lab studio.

Once all the tracks were in, I started to mix it, I realized that the mix was just not working with a 6 string sound, so I borrowed a 7 string from the local music shop for 25$. It turned out to be pretty useless, cause it would not stay in tune when tuned to G. Although I retracked it in A just for kicks. It sounded good just by itself, but I couldn't make it work in the mix. SO I switched back to my Jackson JSRR30 and retracked the guitars. This time I did 4 tracks, 2 hard panned on each side with slightly different tones that I programmed on the Pod X3. Here's the 7 string recording in A, sounds pretty decent just by itself.


Once I had the guitars down, I started with ambient sounds. Basically, most of it is just my voice that's heavily processed to sound very ethereal and far in the stereo space. I also played around with NI Koreplayer and used some of their ready-made sounds to create some synth textures. Here's just the bass and the ambience layers, for your listening pleasure ;)

After that it was just mixing, mixing, mixing until my ears bled. I think that was the most stressful part of it, cos my MacBoook really can;t handle 20 layers in Logic with Superior drummer and all those effects running simultaneously. However, I managed to do it without going completely insane.

Here it is.

Empyrean by Ganesh Rao

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Empyrean complete

My first music video direction is now complete. You can watch it HD on Vimeo. Download the song from SoundCloud Empyrean by Ganesh Rao Planning on doing a poster for this, will keep you posted. Enjoy! Edit: This SoundCloud file has reached it's 100 downloads limit, so you can only stream it now.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Forbidden Circle

Over the past few months, I've been super busy working on a music video. It's currently code-named "Forbidden Circle". It is basically a surreal, dream like and visual-driven and technical video piece for the music I wrote a few months back. The music however has significantly changed since then.

Most of the visual concepts of the piece came to me in a dream a year back, and the images have haunted me ever since. So I decided develop and direct the video with my friend Jonny Greenwald (Director of Photography), a very knowledgeable and talented camera and lighting guru from the VizLab. We've developed the project in the VIZA 623 class under the artistic guidance of Prof. Karen Hillier. And currently we're doing the shoots. Take a look at some of our interesting behind the scenes.

Working on this video has been one amazing learning experience. I have done so many things on it that I've never done before, and everyday seems to bring with it an amazing set of challenges and applying all my knowledge and experience in figuring out a way to solve it. I've done so many things for this project that I never imagined I'd do--from stage & prop design, casting and molding gelatin prosthetics, full body painting and makeup, and everything in between!

If all goes as planned, we'll have the video ready by April 29. Take a closer and detailed look at this project on it's blog at http://forbiddencircle.blogspot.com. Also Like us on Facebook

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some Guitar solo covers

Me and a friend of mine have decided to learn one guitar solo each week. The solo has to be challenging enough, beautiful, and should help us improve us as musicians. We'll learn the solos by ear and record it and post it on YouTube. Here are my 3 solos from this week.

Pantera - Floods

Pantera - Hollow

Winger - Headed for a Heartbreak

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Capturing Sirius

Well, from now on, I'm going to use this blog to post about all of my artistic ventures. Not just illustrations, but my music, my paintings, video projects and everything I do. So to start things off, I decided to do a new project every weekend. Last week I did a video called "I, Want, More, You". So this week, I decided to finish a music project that I had started back in August this year, but never found the time to record. Here's the final piece.

The first thing I wrote for this track was the chorus. The melody just came to me one day while I was riding the bus back home. As soon as I got back I figured out how to play it and recorded it on Guitar Rig. The piano melody came a few days later, while I was trying out a new synth instrument I was building in Garageband. Then I put it together to create the intro. The song stagnated here for a few weeks.

Later on I was just browsing through all of my previous experiments of this year and I hit up on a recording that had the 7+8 (15) time signature of the verse. I quickly figured a way to transpose it to the right scale and plugged it into the song.

After that I just played along with the track all through the weekend just going with gut feeling to figure out solo sections here and there. I wanted to create slow and absorbing solos, not really technical, but with a strong space-travel feel in them.

The arrangement of the song tells a story. The intro is more like a preparation for launch into space. The first chorus is the actual launch into space. Then the first rhythm and solo section is more like a unification of spaceships in space to create a giant spaceship. Then we venture out to find Sirius. The lyrics come in as a god like voice that gives each spaceship the instruction as to how to capture the star. Then comes another solo, which is more like getting prepared to start the capturing process. The second chorus is initiating the capture and the final solo describes the capture of Sirius and destruction of the matter within.

The lyrics is basically a play on capturing the heavens from the perspective of a spaceship. Sirius, being the brightest star in the night sky has a lot of historic and mythological significance, so the lyrics vaguely suggest that.

The song has a very spacey feel, so each time I listened to it, it felt like I was on a giant spaceship as big as the star itself. And the spaceship would use up the entire star to power itself.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lotus Guitar (Work in Progress)

This one came to me in one of my dreams a year back I had logged it in my journal and completely forgotten about it. However, I'm doing a music video next semester, and I decided to go through my dream journal and this image struck me. I decided to make a painting of it so I sketched it out on paper first.
In my dream I had seen him as a white, ghostly and thin-built. But for this painting I decided to make him fat and exaggerate his shape. I'm going to make his hands and feet really small. I'm kind of liking the look of these exaggerated features, don't really know why though. So I pulled out a 16x20 canvas and my acrylics and got started with the background layer. I really had fun painting the background because it let me do what I love doing the most -- play with paint!
This actually has a few layers in it already. I started with a bright yellow wash, then dabbed on some dark blue around the edged to create the vignette. Then layered some crimson to create some highlights. Then finally used white to blend in the whole thing. I used my fingers for the whites, and totally felt alive as I painted! Next I used watercolors (orange) to draw out his outline, and then started painting in his body.
Then added the bright red guitar.
Far from complete. Much more to come soon. Sorry for the terribly lo-res pictures. I'll get the lab's T2i sometime and post better pics soon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Family Vacation

So this week's topic was "Time Machine". As soon as I read the topic, the first thing that popped into my head was this incredible scene from Samurai Jack.
My first idea was to create a similar scene and make a time traveling scientist warrior character. Here's what I came up with after playing with Illustrator for a while.
It just looks like a cheap rip off! So I ditched it, and started fresh on paper. I did a bunch of sketches.
I liked this, and decided to simplify it further. I wanted to make it look very 60s style cartoon, so I drew a hat on him :D I wanted to make it flatter without perspectives like that Samurai Jack shot. After sketching for a while, I finally drew this.
I was happy with this, and I realized how much I love the process of simplifying something!

Then, I got it into Illustrator and traced it. Here's the first draft of it.
I guess I got the forms right on this one, but the colors were just awful. It still looked too busy, and there were too many things in it fighting for attention. So I let it sit there for a night. Next morning, I looked at it, and the color scheme just came to me. I went in and swapped the color swatches. And I think it worked. I also added a couple of other characters to make it look like a family. Finally, I used the ever-so-beautifully-retro-futuristic font "Neutra" for the sign board. Here's the final image again.
Let me know what you think!