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

Track 21 – Afterimage – Imphenzia 1 Track Per Day Release Marathon

UPDATE: This track has been removed from SoundCloud - you can still get it from http://music.imphenzia.com.

Welcome to my complete 1 track per day #Imphenzia release marathon. Every day until I run out of tracks I will release one of my tracks as a free download and write some history behind it.

If you like my music, if you want to support it, and if you don’t want to wait for the entire marathon to finish – you can download all my music as MP3 and FLAC files from http://music.imphenzia.com for what you think it is worth ($2 – $50) – there are 109 tracks to grab =)

Afterimage was 4th February 2012 and it's an atmospheric trance track with an airy piano melody. When making this track I ended up in somewhat of a dead lock because when I made the initial melodic loop in Cubase I struggled for quite some time as I didn't know how to tie it together to a full track. In the end I forced it into full length but I ended up repeating the melody over and over again as I couldn't find another way forward. I think it still shows in the track and every time I listen to it I get annoyed at the fact that the melody is looping over... and over... and over... and over again. In the end I just faded out the thing and released it =)

The name, Afterimage, was inspired by the experience you have after starring into a bright light for a while and then the image of that light stays present even when you look away or close your eyes. This track had that impact on my but from an audio perspective. When I turn of the track I still hear it looping away in my mind. Not too sure it's a pleasant experience! Afterimage is not among my favorite tracks but I do like the airy atmosphere in it.

Oh how well this description promotes my music =) You can follow me and the rest of this track release marathon on twitter: @Imphenzia

How to make trance music tutorial

Today I decided to create a tutorial based on my latest trance track "Spirit Within You". It's a detailed look at a section of 15 measures of the track where I go through each and every instrument, what notes and chords are played, which presets are used, what VST instrument was used, etc. This should hopefully give you the foundation of percussion, bassline, melody,  filling effect - but it won't teach you how to arrange a full length track - that will come in another tutorial.

Have a look at the tutorial

What's in the video?

The video describes the following elements:

  • Percussion (drums) - kick, closed hihat, open hihat, claps, cymbals

  • First bassline (rapid 1/16 notes)

  • Second bassline  (offbeat 1/8 notes)

  • Cluster of 5 simultaneous leads for extreme atmosphere

  • Two trance gates for an even fuller effect

  • Pads for more euphoria

  • And a classic trance piano with delay end reverb

First the video lets you listen to the end result. Then I solo each instrument and describe what notes were played. You can also see exactly which presets are used in Nexus2, VanGuard, and Sylenth1. All presets, more or less, use the default settings and the default delay / reverb effects. Filter cutoff frequency is altered on a few instruments to create that classic morphing or transforming sound commonly found in trance. No additional, external, or invisible effects are applied.

In this video tutorial I use Cubase 5 as a sequencer - but the technique can be applied to any sequencer and VST instruments.

Since this video focuses on a cropped out section of the track, I plan to make another video showing how the track is arranged in terms of introducing various instruments, the intro, the chorus, the breakdown, the outro, etc.

If you like this video and, of course, if you like my music - please consider supporting Imphenzia by buying one of my albums in the album section (or on iTunes and other digital stores) - you can also gain Full Access to all Imphenzia tracks for high quality 320kbps MP3 and lossless FLAC files.

Virtual Instruments (VSTi) used

  • Groove Agent ONE (Cubase 5 drum machine)

  • ReFX Nexus2

  • ReFX VanGuard

  • LennarDigital Sylenth1

Presets used

All the presets are available in the retail version of each VSTi without the need for any expansions. The exception is the percussion since I just use various percussion samples.

ReFX Nexus2

  • Bass | BA Trancebass 19

  • Bass | Lazy Bass

  • Single Layer Leads | LD Detuned Lead 1

  • Epic Pads | PD Floating Away (with Trance Gate "TG" effect enabled)

  • Epic Pads | PD Tranceiver

  • Piano | PN Trancepiano

ReFX VanGuard

  • LD Corsten 01 MS

  • ARP Smuggler

LennarDigital Sylenth1

  • Bank 1 | LD Follow

  • Bank 2 | LD Rollback

  • Bank 1 | GAT Trancentral

Groove Agent ONE

  • Various drum samples accumulated over the years

Release of Nostalgia [Dub Chill Edit]

I've recently discovered the Dubstep genre and even though there are a lot of the tracks of that genre that I don't particularly like, there are quite a few I really DO like as well. As I mentioned in an earlier post it was "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" by Skrillex that got me interested and I really liked the structured randomness of stabs and the wobbly bass.

I suggest, while reading this post, that you listen to Nostalgia [Dub Chill Edit] =)

Yesterday after I dropped off my son at daycare I had the melody of Nostalgia in my head and I imagined what it would sound like with some wobbles and random stabs in that track. When I came home I launched Cubase and loaded the chill-out version of Nostalgia to play around a while with the idea.

A few hours later I had a decent draft going with a duration of about a minute. I had to stop for the time being to resume some everyday-normal-duties but around 9 PM the kids were a sleep, we had finished eating Thai food, and the Cubase project was loaded.

I couldn't stop until the clock showed 03:30 AM but I happy with the result and I considered the edit to be ready for release. Since it's an edit the production time was greatly reduced because in general all the melodies and midi data is already there, it just needs rearranging with the exception for the additional random stabs, a modified beat, the wobble bass, and some instrument substitution.

To get the wobble bass, by the way, I use Sylenth1 and set the Low Frequency Oscillator 1 (LFO) to sinus wave and that it should modify Cutoff Frequency A. I then use VST Automation (see my tutorial on VST Automation in Cubase) to alter the rate of the LFO to achieve the wobble effect.

2 hours of sleep anyone?

I released the preview on Soundcloud last night before heading off to bed at 04:15 AM. My son woke up again at 06:55 and I had to get up with him to drop him off at daycare again . 2 hours and 40 minutes of sleep - wohoo. Following some positive comments about the track on the Imphenzia Facebook page I then started the process of releasing the track on Imphenzia.com.

The process of releasing a track

To release a new track on Imphenzia.com there are a few things I have to do.

Unmastering the skill of Mastering

First thing is first and I have to master the track. Unfortunately my mastering skills are absolutely awful and close to non-existent. I spend about 2 minutes mastering the track because my ears can't really pick out the difference when it comes to EQing, limiting, compression, and altering the dynamics.

To give Nostalgia the drive through audio wash I load the 32 bit floating point WAV file I rendered in Cubase. I then apply quick EQ to drop some of the deepest bass frequencies and increase the mid-range and treble because I think my tracks are usually quite bass heavy when down-mixed in Cubase. I then normalize the track. And finally I use the Volume Maximizer in Sound Forge to limit at -6dB and compress the loudness. I only have my Sennheiser PXC 450 headphones and a pair of Logitech Z4 speakers to listen to the mix so, again, I wouldn't know how to tweak the mix either way so I just release it. If you are reading this in disgust, and you possess amazing mastering skills, please contact me and help me out =)

Encoding the mp3 and flac files

So the track is "mastered" and re-sampled down to a 16 bit WAV-file. I then use my VBScript to encode the 320kbps MP3 version and the lossless FLAC version. This is a simple and automated process now and the script also creates the necessary mp3-tags and metadata.


When releasing a single, I just have to create a small track icon in 100x100 pixels and 70x70 pixels for my web site. Since it's an edit of an existing track, I just modified the Nostalgia icon - took me about 5 minutes.

Uploading to Soundclick

I have all my tracks on a VIP-account on Soundclick.com because I use their web player for streaming audio to Imphenzia.com visitors. I used to need this because I didn't have enough storage on my website to host all my music but nowadays I could in theory stream it from the .com-site but then I'd lose out on the exposure at Soundclick. I usually hover in the top 10 of their trance charts so it's a valuable self-promoting greater good to continue to have my music there. So I upload the 320kbps Mp3-file to Soundclick, write a description, and I also upload the 100x100 resolution icon.

Uploading to Imphenzia.com

Then it was time to upload the MP3 and FLAC versions to imphenzia.com (I use FTP) and these are the tracks that Full Access contributing visitors can download. I also update the MP3 and FLAC zip archives that contain all Imphenzia releases to-date. So it's a fairly hefty bunch of megabytes being uploaded at this stage. I also upload the 70x70 and 100x100 track icons.

Updating the database

The PHP code on impheniza.com retrieves information from a MySQL database and for every track release I have to fill in some information. This includes, name, release timestamp, keywords, description, story, equipment used, duration, unique identifiers, etc. It only takes about 5 minutes or so, not too bad.

Notifying everyone

The track is up, time to notify everyone. First I announce the release on Facebook and Twitter. Then I use my e-mailer script to send out a notification to all subscribers. Today the list contained 806 e-mail addresses but over 180 e-mails sent bounced due inactive e-mail addresses and people having reached their quota. I decided to tidy up the list today so it meant manually removing the 180+ e-mail addresses from the database.

Updating the RSS XML File

This is the final step of my release process. I update an XML file containing the RSS feed for imphenzia.com but admittedly  I haven't done this yet so I'll have to do that in a second. I'm not sure if anyone even uses my RSS-feed to be honest, but I'll keep updating it for the time being.