• The Birthday Present
  • Started by MrBouzouki
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The Birthday Present
on: June 14, 2019, 09:41:50
I've been a bit absent of late due to family matters but I've managed to finish off my second Lord of the Rings themed orchestral piece entitled "The Birthday Present".


This track might involve a bit more voice acting too ;-)

I've included my SoundCloud notes about it below

This Lord of the Rings cinematically inspired orchestral track follows on the tale of the Ring of Power as it is rediscovered in the Gladden river by Déagol, who was out fishing on the Gladden river on Sméagol's birthday, after being lost for thousands of years.

Besides orchestral instrumentation and choir voices, it also features my Alto F Low Whistle in the first half of the piece and a Foley type section of Sound FX to link to the second section.

The idea was to setup an idyllic pastoral scene by a river before Déagol falls into the river whilst trying to catch a fish. Underwater he spots a glint of gold on the riverbed and returns to the surface, clutching his prize. In the second half of the piece, the One Ring quickly ensnares Sméagol, with fatal consequences.

Listers of my earlier piece might notice the reoccurring Ring motif as it's malevolent power takes hold of Sméagol.

Alto F Low Whistle

VST Orchestration
Strings (8ve Long, Pizzicato Shorts,Spiccato Shorts, CS Strings ,Nasty Brass Long Tremelo(Albion One - Spitfire)
Sky Choir Patch, Timeless Choirs Patch(Halion Sonic)
Alto Flute (Chris Hein Winds)
English Horn (Chris Hein Winds)
Rolled Timpani (Garritan GP05)

Déagol was a Stoor Hobbit, who lived in a small community bound by kinship ties—akin to a clan. He had a relative named Sméagol, whose grandmother was the matriarch of the community. He found the One Ring—which had been lost for thousands of years—while fishing with Sméagol in the Gladden river.

Instantly ensnared by its beauty and seductive power, Sméagol demanded the Ring as his "birthday-present". When Déagol refused to give it up, Sméagol strangled him and hid his body, which was never found; nevertheless, the murderer (nicknamed Gollum after the swallowing noises he made) was eventually driven from his home and into the Misty Mountains.

This track contains various Sound FX that are classed as Public Domain and are used to add colour to the track from www.freesound.org, in addition to home-grown vocal FX.
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Re: The Birthday Present
Reply #1 on: June 14, 2019, 10:59:56
@MrBouzouki  - exciting and convincing! very realistic strings. This is about Gollum finding the ring, right? Indeed a horrific scene.

Well done.
recommending https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Music_Works "How music works", book by David Byrne.

Re: The Birthday Present
Reply #2 on: June 14, 2019, 20:54:01
Beautiful,emotive use of the low whistle @MrBouzouki .  The abrupt change threw me until I read your intro... that was such a scary part of the story (my 10 year old son couldn`t watch the movie after that!). The foreboding is well captured. Gorgeous strings really fill the soundscape.
Your LOR project is developing into an epic I`ll be following ::thumb:: ::thumb::


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Re: The Birthday Present
Reply #3 on: June 15, 2019, 01:19:13
Very impressive @MrBouzouki - this sounds like an incredible amount of effort to get something like this.

It really is an absorbing piece of work and had me totally focused while listening to it.

Looking forward to hearing more of this project as it develops.


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Re: The Birthday Present
Reply #4 on: June 15, 2019, 09:40:14
I managed to 'like' it in an ever on-going battle with passwords etc.
Pass words-wise I feel I'm a beach boy: I ride the top of the wave.
But you never know how much time your luck lasts.

Your talents keep amazing me. And the rest of the Kitchen, I guess.
Great piece of work. @MrBouzouki
Kind regards, Gus

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Re: The Birthday Present
Reply #5 on: June 15, 2019, 11:11:57
« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 11:15:05 by MrBouzouki »
Thanks for your support Kitcheneers  ::thumb:: ::thumb:: ::thumb::

It's always difficult on what is essentially a songwriting forum keeping dishing up things like this. My menu choices have been somewhat instrumentally orientated of late. I must admit to have become fascinated with orchestral stuff but my eyes are turning to deep space and Lindisfarne again and I have a  song collab or two in the pipeline.

Anyway here in the Kitchen we don't like to exclude any style or musical passion for if nothing else, it might inspire other members to advance their craft or start them down a new avenue of musical expression.

The comment @Jurgen made about effort was interesting, and worth expanding upon I think to understand my process for this one.

It started of course with an idea to follow up on The Ring's journey as a corrupting influence.

I had the idea of re-using the ring motif that started all this and again musically it was a large part of the piece.

I thought about how Howard Shore musically portrayed the hobbits in the films ,  Déagol and Sméagol's race was similar.

I decided on a pastoral , idyllic scene, it was a birthday after all and I wanted a definite contrast when the ring took hold.

I really love Foley sounds after featuring them in the Lighthouse Keeper and my Pilgrims Way instrumentals so I went to freesound.org as I was thinking of a bridge between two distinctly different pieces of music. I wanted the idea of the action bits mixed with an orchestral representation of the wriggling fish so I used pizzicato strings in an ostinato (repeating) insistent pattern . I got my wife to do the Whoa sound. My voice was too deep really and hers is obviously lighter. My boys informed me that is a thing too, with females often playing the part of children in cartoons etc. Well in some ways the creatures were more childlike so that makes sense I guess.

I often use drones or pedal tones in my music and it's great to use either choral or string based ones to reinforce a tonal centre or in this case add dissonance at times. I used the dissonance idea to add an unsettling atmosphere  in the second part.

I discovered about splitting the high and low strings, @Bill from November Sound  told me once that was a 'thing' , so I routinely use 8ve strings as almost a bassline (or drone). I have also fallen in love with Con Sordino strings (playing with the mute) and as Wikipedia puts it  "dampening vibrations and resulting in a "softer", darker and more sombre sound."  I used these extensively in my piece Winter for example.

I've fallen in love with the sounds of the English Horn (Cor anglais) so that was going in the first bit, it gives a nice pastoral sound with my low whistle playing acting as a response line in the more reflective section of that part.

Recently, I discovered how well my Alto F low whistle and the Chris Hein Alto Flute work together. A similar range but different timbres so you can work out counterpoint melodies that don't merge but stand on their own. I used this technique at the end of the first part. Interestingly, I had just seen a folk band called Flook (well worth checking out) at a concert where they directly employ that arrangement along with Bodhrán and guitar.

I wanted a particular effect as the ring is discovered on the bed of the river. I used two Halion choirs patches, Sky choir and Timeless choir to give a haunting sound and playing the ring motif, but not fully the first time, then fully, and then progressively more insistent as it start to take control. In my imagination, it had been sat, patiently waiting to ensnare a new creature so it was eager to reassert itself when it had the chance.

I also used high string drones that formed a dissonant chord, the same combined choirs patches but pitched low to add a spooky low pedal.

I imagined the two creatures squabbling then turning into fighting so I used Spiccato strings to give an edgy ostinato (repeating) pattern before going into a frenzy of tremolo strings. Towards the ends of this bridge section , the CS strings were employed again, the high strings going stepwise up whilst the 8Ve were descending stepwise downwards. I believe this is a common technique.

Now I was into the final section. Full on fighting up to the moment where Sméagol triumphs and Déagol is dead at his hands. I used my Albion Nasty Brass patch to take the ring theme and blast it out. Meanwhile I introduce two note alternating tremolo strings, almost like a siren, more dissonant high pedal tones and a high echo of the theme using the choir patch. I wanted to get the sound of swirling so I automated the pan to have it swaying from side to side. Finally I punctuated the first note of the brass lines with a rolled timpani. Not just a hit so it rumbled on in the background.

This all sounds very complex but it isn't really. It's just like baking a cake. Find all your instruments (flavours, ingredients) then slowly assemble the elements and finally bake (the mixing process). Mastering is the icing ;-)

As you can see, different influences lead to the instrument / sound choices and having a clear vision in your head certainly helps.  To demonstrate how it is much simpler then it might sound I've included a copy of my Cubase grid to look at.

To be fair I have watched numerous videos etc. about orchestration etc. now but I'm still a beginner in this field. I really don't care though because for me it's all about having a musical vision then trying stuff out until it works. I have no idea of the things you shouldn't do so I'm not restricted by theory. If it sounds OK to me, I use it. Let the purists sniff if they want. We'd still be playing church music if music didn't grow.

Anyway, I've done all this in case it's of interest to anybody and as an encouragement to try out larger, more demanding pieces out of your comfort zone. It's certainly out of mine ;-)

Re: The Birthday Present
Reply #6 on: June 15, 2019, 12:45:04
Magnificent work, good harmony and balance of colors that make the imagination fly as the solo instruments appear ... I will continue listening while doing other things, your music is relaxing and has wings. Ah! And the fx and the voices that put us on stage ... My treasure, hahaha Congratulations @MrBouzouki
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Re: The Birthday Present
Reply #7 on: June 15, 2019, 13:02:48
I've been a fan of LOTR since the early eighties.
For me the first part of this track was really stunning. I'll be giving it more listens.
It sets a mood, maintains it and still surprises

Well done   

Re: The Birthday Present
Reply #8 on: June 15, 2019, 14:45:12
I've read every Tolkien book multiple times  (no movies for me) and I may be inspired to do so again.
This is just awesome!
Really impressive!
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November Sound is based on the Mother, Father & Son musical trio of Melissa, Bill & Will. I'm the father so anything I post will have my wife singing and/or my son playing percussion.

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Re: The Birthday Present
Reply #9 on: June 16, 2019, 12:09:45
Outstanding! I don' teven want to think about the amount of work you put into this... paid of well though :-)
Esp. love  that low flute but actually it is all stellar.

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Re: The Birthday Present
Reply #10 on: June 26, 2019, 00:17:53
Wow, that sounded lovely and captivated me for the whole 4.21 minutes. I must confess that i'm a complete ignoramous when it come to Lord of the Rings/Tolkien- never seen the film or read the books but now i'm curious.. 

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Re: The Birthday Present
Reply #11 on: June 26, 2019, 13:25:17
I was away when you posted this.....thanks to @DanJames for refreshing the thread so I did not miss it completely.

That whistle sounds absolutely stunning and really sets the mood for the piece. This whole production is fantastic. I have been a fan of this story since the early 70's...wore out a set from re-reads and really enjoyed the movies. You have captured the essence of the story beautifully.

Listening on good headphones here in my office.....excellent mix.
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