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