Face the Music

A few days ago, I received an email asking “When do we get to hear that rig?” I have to admit, that’s a damn good question. I’ve had music recorded and ready to go for a while now, but held off on posting it for reasons I’ll explain shortly.

No more delays; here’s the first piece I recorded using the Seaboard Grand. I call it Game of Glass, and it’s an arrangement of Ramin Djawdi’s main title music for HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Flying Seaboard

I’ve reimagined it as if it was composed in the style of Philip Glass. The original was in 6/8, but this version is in 21/8, divided 5/5/5/6.

My primary intention with this piece was to test using the Seaboard as a studio production tool, without getting caught up in the process of composing my own work. It was important to me to play everything using the Seaboard, simply to see if it could be done. And that’s what I wound up doing, with the exception of a few drum tracks played by hand on the head of the Korg Wavedrum, using a patch called “Viking War Drums.” Even so, most of the drum tracks were still performed on the Seaboard.

As a result, the piece really doesn’t show off the unique capabilities of the instrument. You can hear it in the solo cello line at the beginning, and in some ribbon sweeps here and there; but as far as really using the Seaboard for expression, this is just the equivalent of kicking the tires and taking it out around the track for a few laps.

I’m hoping most people will make the effort to download this 48K/24-bit version of the track. If your system won’t support 24-bit, there’s also a 16-bit version.

Game of Glass, 48k/24-bit AIFF

Game of Glass, 48k/16-bit AIFF

For those who would rather just click and play – or are listening on a lo-fi system where it just doesn’t matter – here’s a Soundcloud link. Unfortunately, Soundcloud does pretty nasty things to musical audio.

However you listen, please turn it up! As the saying goes, this was “made loud to be played loud.” And in truth, this is just the first step on a path I’ll be walking for many years to come.

I had originally planned to complete an animation to accompany this music, which would allow me to distribute it more effectively on sites such as Vimeo and YouTube. To expedite things, I thought I’d use simple wire-frame graphics, rendered in After Effects using a new plug-in I’d found. This would save me a tremendous amount of time doing shaded renders.

Well, that was the theory. And the renders were very fast. The problem was that I really didn’t do in-depth testing of the workflow before I got going; though After Effects has a fairly robust 3D system, using my chosen plug-in threw a wrench in the works.

The problem was that I could only see what I was animating from the camera’s point of view. If I wanted to look at the entire set from above, or the side, or the front, all I could see was an empty rectangle.

This made the process of positioning objects and generating key frames an excruciating time sink. I persevered, but eventually hit the wall and gave myself some time off. After that, despite being in denial for a while, I eventually had to admit that I simply didn’t have the stomach to continue the process. I had completed roughly 2/3 of the animation, and didn’t care for the idea of leaving it unfinished, but what I really wanted to do was play the Seaboard!

So here’s what was completed when I threw up my hands and walked away. Please don’t distribute or post this elsewhere; as you’ll see, there’s a gaping black hole in the middle I don’t plan on filling. The next time I take on a 3D project, I’ll make sure the workflow doesn’t contain any unpleasant surprises first.

(When the new window opens, please click the green “maximize” button in the upper left corner; the animation is 1920×1080. Yes, I know I should code it, but for right now, I just want to get this posted! I’ll tweak it later.)

The unfinished Game of Glass animation

Little Key Wave 7

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