Choosing a Reverb article updated

I have done a bit of housekeeping on the Choosing a Reverb article, adding Sanford Reverb to the list of recommended freeware reverbs and removing Ambience from it. I have also updated the description of Eos as I now own it and have some experience with using it.

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Talisman: The Horus Heresy is out!

Talisman: The Horus Heresy is now released! The soundtrack is also available for purchase via Steam.

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Hope you’ll enjoy it!

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Talisman: The Horus Heresy

It’s now official. The soundtrack project I’ve been working on the latest months is none other than a title set in Games Workshop’s classic Warhammer 40,000 universe, namely:

Talisman: The Horus Heresy

Developed by Nomad Games and using the Talisman ruleset, THH retells the tale of the pivotal galactic civil war that took place 10,000 years prior to the WH40k game setting.

The game is scheduled for release in February 2016.

Please note: the trailer music is not mine.

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Lego Heroica — Late to the party as usual

I’ve been a big fan of fantasy board games for ages, and I’ve been looking for some good way of getting my six year-old daughter interested in this magical pastime. Sure, there are plenty of board games for children but let’s face it: if you’ve been playing more advanced stuff for decades, even the “regular” board games for adults will bore you to tears in just a few turns (Monopoly? Seriously?). So, most of the stuff aimed at kids feels completely pointless. I’ve been looking for a game that we both can enjoy and get into.

Sadly, there aren’t a lot of fantasy games for younger kids. I’ve been recommended a few titles — Mice and Mystics, for example — which look like a lot of fun, but are maybe slightly too complex for a six year-old. In a couple of years, yeah, but not right now.

I have some old Lord of the Rings board game with pretty straightforward rules that we’ve been playing from time to time for over a year. Only problem is… it’s not really a lot of fun. The whole premise is somewhat odd and we’ve ended up having to alter so much of the rules that we might as well play some entirely different game instead.

Then a few weeks back I realized that the answer had been there right in front of me the entire time.

Heroica

My daughter’s crazy about Lego. And to be honest, so am I. During a visit to a local thrift shop I picked up a copy of Lego Heroica Draida Bay, and the first time we played it was a real eureka! moment. It’s a simplistic fantasy dungeon crawler, made with Lego. And we had a great time playing it. It instantly met every requirement I had!

Ironically, I’ve seen these games in various toy shops over the last years but I’ve always dismissed them because, well, they didn’t look that great and were kind of expensive. And now that we’ve discovered them… they’re not being sold anymore. Figures.

They’re still available on the used market, thankfully, and we’ve managed to get hold of Waldurk Forest as well. I’m keeping an eye out for the other titles. Castle Fortaan looks awesome!

To anyone else looking to introduce their kids to the wonders of fantasy board games — you should really give the Heroica games a try. Yes, the rules are dead simple but it’s easy to expand upon them. Battle Heroica — basically an RPG/strategy variant of the rules — is by far the most fun, where one player controls a party of heroes and the other the monsters. My daughter always wants to control the monsters, and usually kicks my butt with much glee. I think I see a GM in the making there…

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Share knowledge, don’t hoard it

Considering that I’m a tiny tadpole in a huge pond and not even extremely experienced as far as virtual orchestrations go, I understand that writing lengthy articles about this subject might be perceived as hubris of the highest degree. Every posting of a new article comes with a sense of trepidation, thinking “oh shit, someone more knowledgable is going to step in here and whup my ass”. So far this hasn’t happened, probably because I’m mostly preaching to the choir here.

Anyway, my reasons for writing these articles aren’t what you might initially think. It’s not about showing off or being a know-it-all. I just happen to think that knowledge should be shared, not hoarded. My knowledge might be flawed and/or incomplete, but as it’s based on actual experience over a long period of time, I think it might just be of use to people.

Let me give you a bit of background.

When I started out doing “modern” virtual orchestrations (i.e. when I moved from MIDI hardware to software samplers and samples) around 2005, there was simply not a lot of helpful information available online. Or more correctly, there probably were, but mainly intermediate/advanced stuff I couldn’t make sense of because I was very green. There was nothing in the way of “orchestral arranging for dummies” or “what you’ve always wanted to know about working with instrument samples but were afraid to ask”.

Keep in mind that back then, everyone but the Gigastudio-wielding big shots (like Jeremy Soule) were all pretty new to the computer-based virtual orchestration thing. It was an emerging technology — GPO was still the new kid on the block, flaunting its sacrilegious notion of “putting orchestras within everyone’s reach” — and there was a lot of conflicting information around. Hardly anyone was experienced enough to be of any major help to anyone else, so it was a very confusing time.

For me it was basically a long process of trial and error, trawling through hundreds of forum threads and well-meaning but obtuse online articles, trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. In the end, I’m happy I spent the time reading and learning all the stuff that I did, but I’ve always felt that, you know, it shouldn’t be that difficult.

And today, ten years later, suddenly I have the opportunity of sharing my knowledge with a bigger audience. I would be ashamed to let people learn everything the hard way, like I did.

I stand by my words when presenting the Orchestral positioning articles, “If I’m going to wait until my knowledge is all-encompassing, I will go to my grave without having uttered a single word of advice to anyone.”

It’s as simple as that.

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The sample quality myth Pt 3 is up!

Read it here.

Stand by for the fourth and final part later this week.

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The sample quality myth: New article series

A few weeks ago I happened across a completely lopsided discussion about virtual orchestration on a well known music forum (which shall remain unnamed and not-linked-to), and it struck me that I’ve seen this exact topic come up over and over again for years and yet to this day people are giving really unhelpful and/or misleading responses. This inspired me to write a quick blog post on the matter. But you know me — I can never make a long story short.

So, without further ado, I present to you an article series dubbed The sample quality myth. Part one and part two are up, the following parts will hopefully be published sometime next week.

Enjoy.

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Taking the plunge

Even though I’ve been composing game music for almost ten years now, I’ve never actually done this professionally. I’ve had a few paid gigs since 2012 (working on my fourth right now, fifth one coming up next year), but it’s always been in the form of part time work, composing in my spare time with day jobs providing financial security.

Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how you look at it — this isn’t the kind of music production that you can do just casual-like, an hour here or there a few days a week. Especially not if you’re on a deadline. Virtual orchestration is convoluted and time-consuming by its very nature and you need to be focused and patient to come up with good stuff. And as you probably all know, focus and patience aren’t at their daily highs at 9:00 PM after a long workday when you’ve put your kid to bed and squared away all the little mundane obligatories that make up your everyday life.

When I composed the soundtrack for Talisman DE I was working day and night as the deadline loomed closer. I got home around 6 PM, made dinner, ate, spent some time with my daughter, then put her to bed and immediately sat down at my computer and resumed working on the music. I rarely went to bed earlier than 3 AM. At 6:30 AM the alarm went off, signalling a new day. Lather, rinse and repeat. Even though I’m pretty happy with the way the soundtrack turned out in the end, some of the tracks still give me a bad feeling when listening to them (I’m not going to say which ones), as they were composed and performed in some kind of sleep-deprived stupor in the wee hours of the night.

This experience was thankfully short — and I could probably have avoided it altogether by planning ahead. I had plenty of time to compose the music, I just tinkered a bit too long on the earlier tracks. But on the upside it made me realize that this isn’t a good extra income job. In fact, it’s a terrible one. It’s a full-time job and if you try to squeeze it into a few hours every evening after regular work you will either 1) deliver shit music or 2) burn yourself out in just a few months. Potentially both.

This, and a brush-in with fatigue-induced depression earlier this year has made me come to an important — possibly life-changing — desicion.

As of this autumn, I’m taking the first steps towards making composition (and other music-related activities) my main source of income. It’s taken a long time for me to even consider this, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes.

Is it realistic? Yes, I think so. I’ve been unemployed for a year now, and looking at the economy and job openings, it’s not going to get any better anytime soon. Besides, music is what I’m best at so it’s not like I have a reasonable chance at competing with thousands of other applicants for flipping burgers, telemarketing or other random everyday jobs. Looking at skills and experience, I’m so specialized that hoping for someone else to hire me is less realistic than becoming self-employed.

Is it viable? This is still up in the air (and I will never know if I don’t take the plunge) but I think it might be. I have small but close network of developers and publishers who like my work and wouldn’t hesistate to hire me. Sadly, due to archaic Swedish bureaucray it’s nigh impossible for me to take a freelance job that doesn’t provide a paycheck at the end of the month. And if you’ve ever worked with small indie developers, you know that they might not be able to pay you until the game is released months from the present.

In short, the system that is in place to make sure that I don’t starve to death during a period of employment is modeled after regular, full-time, monthly paid work, not freelance activities with unclear time frames. So due to this, I’ve been forced to turn down a couple of job offers the latest year. This is, to be frank, madness. And one of the reasons that has moved me towards this desicion.

So, getting to the point — finally! — I’m going to make a serious attempt at doing this professionally. And I’m going to need your support more than ever. If you like what I do and want to hear more of my work, I would apppreciate if you could spread the word in any way you can. Point people to this site, my Facebook page, my Soundcloud account or my Youtube channel. Links here:

Facebook
Soundcloud
Youtube

And no, it’s not your job to do my marketing for me. But your support plays a big part in potentially turning a hobby in to a full-time job. :)

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Old farts

This post is basically a rant about being — or at least slowly becoming — an old fart. So take it for what it is.

At 41 and reasonably tech-savvy I guess I’m not running any immediate risk of going the way of the dodo. After all I still feel like I have more in common with kids who take the internet and smartphones and lifelike games for granted than with the millions of technophobes (disturbingly often my age or even younger) who can just barely operate a PC without someone holding their hand through it, and habitually dismiss deeply crucial parts of modern society with “I’m just not interested in that kind of stuff”.

Someone at age 35 who needs my help to keep their computer malware free and pay their bills over the internet is no different from a person of the same age who can’t read and write. Except for that the latter probably knows s/he has a problem, whereas the former just shrugs it all off as “not interested” or “not good at technical things” and goes about their offline lives without giving it a second thought.

How would you feel if a friend of yours called you weekly or even daily and asked you to read them what’s in the papers? For how long would you accept an excuse like “I’m not interested in learning this”? This is no different, no different at all.

Having gotten that off my chest, I must admit that I have noticed that for every passing year my curiosity gets a bit less intense. My interest in discovering and learning new technologies slowly fades and I’m left with a feeling of… oh come on, what is this supposed to be good for? Is this really an improvement?

As an example, I just got hold of an Acer netbook. I realize that it’s been eight years or something since netbooks were all the rage and I’m kind of late to the party, but I got it for peanuts and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s a tiny, cute, ultra-portable computer that runs Windows 7 and is in no significant way worse than my much larger laptop. Dual core Atom processor, 2GB RAM, 160GB hard drive. It’s snappy as heck and I’m pretty sure I could run both REAPER and Photoshop on it, the only major downside being its 1024×600 resolution.

But here’s the thing. Netbooks are sooo out of fashion. They’re stone age hardware. From what I can tell, hardly anyone is manufacturing them anymore because people these days want tablets.

Tablets, tablets, tablets.

Want to hear my take on tablets? FUCK TABLETS!

Nope, I just don’t get it. See what I mean about slowly becoming an old fart?

For the record, I have nothing against smartphones. I spent a decade wishing that cell phones were more like computers and not just a brick with a tiny monochromatic display that you kept in your pocket in case you wanted to call someone or send a (limited) text message. OK, wish granted. Thanks. I love my lowly Moto G, it’s very handy.

But a tablet is like… I dunno, the bastard child of a smartphone and a laptop? You get one upside of a laptop (a large screen) with all the downsides of a smartphone. And before you say “you don’t know what you’re talking about!” let me tell you that we’ve put three tablets in the bin over the last two years. Fragile, unreliable and useless shit they were, all of them.

Also, touch screens are a very crude technology at this point in time. They’re intuitive, yes, and I can see how they appeal to the technophobe community. Poke stuff to make stuff happen, yay! But there is no way in hell that you can convince me that they will be replacing traditional mouse/keyboard-operated computers for productivity uses anytime soon. It’s just not going to happen.

Posted in Rants, Technology | 2 Comments

Guitars page added

While I’m anything but a guitar snob — I don’t own a single expensive or rare instrument, just a bunch of customized low-to-mid range workhorse type ones — I am most definitely a guitar nerd. Unless you want to hear me go on about it for hours, be careful about asking me about guitar brands and models, pickups, tuners, bridges, nuts, string gagues, tunings and whatnot. I always enjoy reading or watching detailed gear rundowns from guitar players that I like (and sometimes even from ones that I don’t like, or aren’t familiar with) and there’s nothing I love more than getting my hands on a cheap(ish) guitar with potential. I can literally spend weeks pondering and planning what modifications to make in order to transform it from an ugly duckling into a guitar that you pick up, play, and don’t want to put down.

As I know there are plenty of other guitar nerds out there, I decided to write up a list of my own modest guitar collection. Chances are most people who come here don’t have the slightest interest in it, but hey, just in case (yeah, OK, I like talking about it).

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