Creating 5.1 Psyround Sound
Music can be more than entertainment. It is a connection to the brain, soul, our consciousness and our experiences. Introspective and a vehicle that triggers memory, music inspires thought and creates a oneness (Hicks, 2014). A oneness of happiness, love, despair, loneliness and adoration (amongst countless others), our spectrum of emotion for times had and what could possibly be (Bergland, 2013).
Too often the power that music possesses can be lost by its creator and the conspirers in control of spreading the messages to the masses.
Depth to a narrative is an important step that must not be overlooked. (Marvell, 2017)
“Reason requires clear, identifiable building blocks. It uses ideas, memories, emotions, and sensory input. The ideas must be clear and definable. The memories must be recognizable, and vivid. The emotions are recognized as emotions only, with no further meaning. The sensory input must be identified in order to be used.” (Landauer & Rowlnass, 2011)
On my recently assigned project to produce a studio EP in 5.1 surround sound, my team of Aldie Nusa Putra (aka DJ Noosa) and Guarav Harwani (aka Jaydkays) strove to create a techno EP that would blend the genres of melodic techno and psytrance.
Understanding the immersive experience that was possible to create through unique panning in 5.1, we wanted to take the listener on an enlightening yet intelligent emotional journey, soothing the soul with the melodic techno and unlocking the mind with an out of this world experience through the Psy. To achieve this, proper thought and research ensued as we didnt want negative thought to enter the audiences neurotransmitters. Rather than using random samples, hours of speeches were researched to find meaningful positive and insightful quotes with depth to their own stories. That and fun out of this world content we could use for vocals.
By pitch bending and EQing this dialogue as our vocals, it would compliment the eb and flow of the focused frequencies in the music to have the audience explore deeper into thoughts created by the characters (The Music of Chakras, 2017).
Influenced by Freedom Fighters - The Encounter and Stephan Bodzin’s Wir, we felt the goal of having an amusing, yet spooky outer-space psytrance would create a sense of un-ease but also a fun experience (kind of like a horror film) to the listener. A sense of an excited yet calming pleasure through a consistent bassline and kick & snare- that would be juxtaposed by the dialogue through the light melodic builds that simulate the experience of being chased, abducted, and communicated to by aliens.
Bookending a project such as this by having the story “return with the elixir” is also important. To bring the audience back to a stale sense of calm after the emotional roller coaster, to have the final impression to be positive (Patterson, 2015). “Having the hero return”- which in this case is the listener (The Hero’s Journey, 2016).
Therefore a light introduction with the joyful voices of children are used in the opening track, featuring nice builds and releases in the melody with very little sense of harm.
This blends into our second track where we introduce a government-style agent “Looking for K”. A double-entendre as a drug reference -common in the psy-trance and bush techno genre- and also “K” being the agent Will Smith’s character is looking for in Men In Black, which links the ‘out of this world' experience. K is also the chemical symbol for potassium, a key electrolyte in the body that muscles need to contract and the heart needs to beat properly and regulate blood pressure (Trents health tip- eat bananas) (Cunha, 2017). This is an example of the depth of thought put into each carefully selected vocal.
The “looking for” narrative is then enhanced later in the track. Before getting to this section, we build the tension and create the unrest through thumping kick and synths, the kick on a 4/4 yet triplets are used for the bassline, each emulating our reference tracks.
The male vocal of ‘They’re coming to get you Barbara” retorted by the female “Stop it, you’re ignorant” (from the 1968 Drama/Science fiction classic “Night of the Living Dead”*) aims to assimilate an uncertainty in the listeners mind about their own state of calm, whilst also preaching empowerment through the female character despite the air of confidence lacking in her voice.
[* Using a quote from Night of the Living Dead is an inner-reference in itself, as we aim to awaken the dormant brain/thoughts of our listeners who themselves are zombies trapped in the mindless numb of modern society.]
This is where production shines through as we create a sense of intergalactic machinery whirring around our lost protagonist, creating this through the panning and balances of frequencies flying around ear to ear. Getting to use the S6 creatively was one of the most fun things I’ve got to do professionally thus far in my engineering career.
Acoustics and room design in accordance with sound manipulation fascinate me, and literally getting to move the sound with my own hands through the touchpad control is an experience I’ll crave to utilise more in future projects.
An example of this fun was taking the sound of a high-frequency “laser” beaming at us, starting in the front middle and is it builds we gradually shift the audio straight to the listener, before panning in a down and spread motion to each rear speaker. Or to put it less technically, and as I described the intent to the team “As if to drift through outer-space, a meteorite begins hurtling towards us, then we split it with the laser as it approaches and each half slices apart, flying by each side within inches of each ear.”
At the same time this was blended by the atmospheric synth moving subtely from the rears, gradually around the outside evenly to the fronts, so those sounds in the similar frequency band (approx 2-5k) wouldn’t get lost into one another through the process.
I feel my panning and automation for both corrective and creative reasons were really valued by my team members- particularly at times when I wish I was producing better content in the box.
Having a varied blend of narratives progress throughout complimented one anothers styles and I feel my ability to have the team communicate well and keep focused on our goals definitely helped me consolidate confidence as an Executive Producer for similar projects going forward.
My personal time management, whilst still not perfect, vastly improved on this project- particularly when working individually and in the extra late sessions in the studio. There were times when the team would start getting too deeply lost in the manipulation of a 4 second clip, and we did a good job of recognising that “Hey, we probably haven’t needed to spend nearly 20 minutes on such a miniscule part of the project, let’s just try two methods, pick which is best and move on”. A good example of improved time awareness and something I aim to better incorporate in my individual work. Having three members in the team also helped as we could always resolve any issues with the simple 2-1 vote.
I enjoyed using the oscillation of the Moog Sub 37 to create the sound of the UFO approaching, and also delving through endless content of insightful, inspiring, enlightening and spooky to create the narrative (much of which was left on the cutting room floor). The beauty of the time spent on this is that I’ve stored a LOT of content aside for future projects.
Wanting to also have a relation to our own personal journey’s and connections with music, we incorporated Johnny Depp’s thoughts on music from a 2016 interview at Arizona State University (Finding the Creativity in Madness, 2016). I found these fascinating and wanted to share this with others, much like Aldie with his Neil Degrasse-Tyson quotes on Flat Earth theory towards the end of the record (and Guarav’s with Jordan Peterson's inspirational speech). Depp’s thoughts into music’s influence on the world personally resonated Depply, nay deeply, and thus have been again reflected into this report.
Aldie again helped me greatly improve on the desk with mixing and balances, and in the box with the strength of many plug-ins (importantly Melodyne). There is not an hour that passes without me learning something new from him, and his skills both marvel and inspire me (he even drummed on this project).
Overall, I wish I could commit even more time to this project after deadline and loved everything about the 5.1 experience and learning room balancing. More importantly, I relished the chance to start to express my creativity and get just a few of my many deep thoughts out through the power of music. To help each individual listener to hopefully express happiness, love, despair, loneliness and adoration, taking them along their spectrum of emotions for times they’ve had and what could possibly be.
Landauer and Rowlands (2011). “Reason”
Dr Leon Marvell (Monday Feb 27, 2017.) Lecture Notes for CIU 110 at SAE- Melbourne.
The Hero’s Journey (October 19, 2012) Retrieved from https://writerswrite.co.za/the-heros-journey/
The Music of Chakras, (2017). www.chakrakey.cinm http://www.chakrakey.com/chakra-frequencies-and-correlations-2/
Patterson, 2015 https://writerswrite.co.za/the-5-essential-elements-of-a-perfect-ending/
Bergland 2013. “Why Do the Songs from Your Past Evoke Such Vivid Memories?
“ Retrieved from:
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP (2017) Low Potassium (Hypokalemia)
Hicks, 2014. “How playing music affects the developing brain” http://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2014/07/17/music-language-brain
ASU Origins Project (Publisher). (2016, March 23). Johnny Depp & Lawrence Krauss: Finding The Creativity In Madness (OFFICIAL) - (Part 01) [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/ONIUeSO27F8?t=39m16s