The blog is being migrated and merged with multiple Imphenzia blogs so the format and content will be inconsistent for a while.

Sonic Landscapes with Absynth 5

Following the launch of the revamped website, Imphenzia Soundtrack is currently my main priority. I tend to switch focus between Imphenzia Music (my trance music), Imphenzia Soundtrack, and Imphenzia Games depending on where I find most motivation at any given time.

Shifting Focus

The first half of this year I put a lot of effort into Imphenzia Music by rebuilding the entire web site from scratch, creating a new web shop, introducing Full Access feature, releasing new singles, releasing the Chillout album, introducing all my music to digital stores and Spotify. I also made the decision to allow full length streaming of ALL my tracks (previously high quality streaming was only allowing the first two minutes.) I'm not sure if that was the right thing to do because since then the number of Full Access users have dropped and now one person every other month opts for (the low end of) Full Access. I will keep things as they are, but I think the lack of interest in downloading my music is one of the reasons why my motivation has switched to Imphenzia Sountrack at the moment. Not to worry, it'll shift back at some stage =)

There is a hole in my virtual studio

I've purchased quite a few great music products over the past few of years, and my current virtual studio consists of the following:

I'm fairly happy with this list of software but there is one gigantic hole. For trance I don't feel I need anything more than Nexus2, VanGuard, and Sylenth1 at the moment - it's such a competent set of instruments for that purpose.

For Imphenzia Soundtrack, on the other hand, I am missing an instrument or library for soundscape textures, glitches, and futuristic grunge style sounds.

I've done some online searching today and I found Native Instruments Abysnth 5 which I think will fill this hole perfectly. Absynth comes with 1800 presets and a, what seems to be an amazing, morph feature that will allow the creation of totally unique sounds. I've been looking at the demo videos and listened to the sample tracks and all I have to do now is to decide whether I should by the boxed DVD version or the digital download version. If I get the digital version I'll have it straight away but I've got boxed versions for Nexus, Cubase, and the Complete Composer's edition (featuring all the large sample libraries) so it would be nice to have the cyan colored Abynth 5 box in that collection. Both the digital download and boxed version is €179 (including shipping) so I'm leaning towards the box after all. My PayPal account is missing $25 so I'll wait to see if any non-exclusive licenses go so I can place the order.

Good hardware for the gigantic sample libraries

The only music hardware I use nowadays is my 88-key Roland FP-7 stage piano as master midi keyboard and to play improvisation to come up with new ideas. Some will find it amusing, but I use the Asus motherboard sound card. I down-mix all the audio without it ever touching the sound card so it serves no purpose to get another one. In fact, I've got a Creamware Pulsar 2 DSP sound card that I bought for £2000 - but it's old now and they didn't bother to release any Windows 7 drivers for it... But again, I don't need it =)

If you found this post because you are looking for a computer with a lot of memory to run the EastWest libraries - I can confirm that my current computer handles it beautifully:

  • Asus P6X58D-E Motherboard

  • 24 GB RAM using 2 x Corsair 12GB (3 kit) DDR3 1600MHz/CL9/DOMINATOR

  • Intel Core i7 3.06GHz Quad 8MB Cache Processor

  • Corsair AX 850W PSU

  • Crucial RealSSD 256GB (for the sound libraries, they consist of over 177'000 files)

  • Corsair SSD Force Series 120GB (for Windows 7 x64 Ultimate

Signing off with a bombshell

To finish off I'll take this opportunity to share s sample of an orchestral piece I started working on today. Enjoy!
Imphenzia Soundtrack work in progress "Arm for Battle Loop" by Imphenzia

Fantasy RPG - a new set of orchestral loops

The latest addition to my library of Non-Exclusive game music is "Fantasy RPG" - a collection of 8 short seamless orchestral loops for games with a fantasy or medieval theme. The loops can, of course, be used for many other purposes as, for example, the battle loops are quite universal in time and game genres.

You can play the Intense Battle Full Loop to get an appreciation of what it sounds like (Note: the audio file is watermarked if you are wondering why my voice disturbs you gently half way through :)

The loops are very short, only between 10 and 32 seconds in length, making them especially suitable for small games with shorter gameplay. The short duration also makes them incredible cheap with excellent value for money as they are practically given away priced between $3 and $10 each for indie game developers.

Details for the curious

To create these loops I use Steinberg Cubase 5.5 as a sequencer. The orchestral library I use is Symphonic Orchestra Gold by EastWest Samples / Quantum Leap. I've set up a, for me, gigantic Cubase template with the full Orchestra and all instruments articulated with keyswitch instruments. The keyswitch means that I can select articulation for each midi note played to say how it should be played, e.g. the keyswitch for 18 Violins section contains no less than 23 articulations such as marcato, sustain, slur, tremolo, legato, lyrical, expressive, quick up down, etc.

[caption id="attachment_232" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Cubase with Symphonic Orchestra Gold Keyswitch template"]Cubase with Symphonic Orchestra Gold Keyswitch template[/caption]

The orchestral template is very memory hungry and to accomodate this I'm running a Intel i7 950  processor  @3.07 Ghz with 24 GB of RAM memory. I've stored all the orchestral library files on a 256 GB Crucial Solid State HDD because the library consists of 39983 files (32.3 GB) and it took forever to load it up on my previous 7200 RPM drive. This is running on Windows 7 x64 Ultimate and I must say that this combination works a treat. I can also take this opportunity to mention that the setup and music software is funded by my every day job as an IT Consultant and NOT from Imphenzia Soundtrack licenses - I've got a long way to go for that to happen =)

Here is also a screenshot of the Key Switch articulations I've configured. This one is for the 18 Violins sections so I had to configure the same thing for all instruments in the entire orchestra which took me the closest thing to forever.

[caption id="attachment_233" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Key Switch articulations for 18 Violins section"]Key Switch articulations for 18 Violins section[/caption]

I should also mention that this particular piece of music uses percussion from Stormdrum 2 and a little bit of choir from Symphonic Choirs.


An orchestral first for soundtrack

Today marked a new milestone in Imphenzia Soundtrack as the first orchestral tack was released. Due to its character it was named "Emperor Victorious" as it portrays a glorious, somewhat epic (although that word is very much overly used) and powerful mood. The track received nice and encouraging feedback in the Indegamer development forums.

Coming from making electronic music this new orchestral style had a fair share of challenges involved. The first step was to identify what instruments actually play in a track. Once I achieved this, I had to go through the building blocks of cinematic style music - and boy is it complex or what? Not only do you have to pay close attention to the architecture of instruments and melodies - but also how the individual notes are played dynamically in terms of velocity and emphasis.

Next step for me is to upgrade my sample library to the huge sample collection "East West Samples Complete Composers Collection - Play Edition", probably with the Platinum upgrade for 24bit orchestral samples each recorded from three different microphone positions. I can hardly wait for this library and I am convinced it will lead to a great deal of new cinematic style tracks!