I wrote my final track ‘Shadow’, after being interested in depression and unsure of whether I suffered from it myself. I wanted the music to express the confusion and ‘dark’ side of what depression can be but also how it doesn’t actually identify a person i.e. the two different voices.
My influences for this track included Bon Iver, Oh Wonder and The xx. When I listen to any of these artists I feel a real connection to the music through the ambience and atmosphere they create and it was very important to me to get this into my track. I’d call the track ambient electro-pop as it follows Oh Wonder’s chilled, rhythmic style. Romy and Oliver, vocals for The xx inspired me to create a lower octave vocal using the pitch shifter as it adds to the depth of the song, creates this idea of a shadow and builds the ambience, Bon Iver also use the vocoder, hence why I wanted to edit the voice somehow in my track.
My aim for the composition of the track was to keep it short and unpredictable. I wanted the track to be a little sound bubble that would export you to the mind-set of the person in the song just for a couple of minutes and then finish. I wanted the track to merit the uncomfortable and to be quite abnormal in terms of composition: having large periods of instrumental leaving space for overlapping samples or sound shapes to layer, distort and create a sense almost of delirium.
One of the key production techniques I focused on using was sampling. Using loopback to play Spotify audio into Logic, I created a range of voice samples. I gave each sample a different channel strip and mapped each sample across the midi keyboard whilst tuning the sample to a C3 so I could then play the samples in the chord patterns or tune of the melody that I had been doing with my instruments. Rather than trying to create a really rigid pattern of samples, I had a bit of a play around with different techniques we’d learnt: chord triggers, note repeater, arpeggiator etc. and I then worked back into anything I liked the sound of, adjusting it slightly. At times I did just play by hand a one off note of a sample to fit into an exact point. I was pleased with the sound of all the samples as they all represent the state of confusion/different thoughts all going through someone’s head that I wanted them to.
I feel like the track has been successful in creating a dark, quite mysterious and uncomfortable atmosphere. I’m happy with the variety of sounds, samples and layers that have been created, however, I know that I could mix the track to a better standard with more practise. One of the things I struggled with in regards to having a lot of different elements was the final levels and where everything sits sound-wise in the track. Compression comes under this also: I worked on the dynamics of the voice using compression and automation, however, there are a couple of parts to the song (particularly in bar 9 and 13) where the voice is quieter and then gradually becomes louder again, and with more time, I’d focus more on fixing this.
To improve further I’d also try out using the pitch shifter for a vocal an octave higher at certain points or a 7th higher for an eerie harmony.