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


  1. concept #1 has a very unique feel to it. you might be onto something there.

    Love the intro to the final piece. that's east+west fusion right there!

    Amazing stuff!