Doom Music Track Production Process
For the Doom trailer sound replacement I needed to produce a Metal music track that can be used to represent the chaotic fast paced and intense nature of the game. The music that was already produced by Mick Gordon acts as a good reference point as to what I need to achieve with my track. Mick used a bunch of synthesised sound to construct his track with electric guitar accompaniment but seeing as I'm not someone who uses a lot of synths I decided to go purely with electric guitars as the main sound with drums and bass guitar.
Like with other tracks I've composed I started off by recording down a few basic guitar riffs to help collect my creative ideas to then expand on and fine tune to produce a rough scratch track for drum recording. Listen to the basic riffs I produced below.
It can be a bit of an arduous process going through these riffs and trying to expand upon them to produce a scratch track but after jamming through them a few times I began to work out a good structure that had some interesting rhythmic elements. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make this track more rhythm based that melodic so to keep things a little more interesting I started to introduce some poly-rhythms into the composition. This proved to be relatively difficult where I had to really focus on my timing to make sure the 2 separate guitar tracks that are panned left and right were in time otherwise it would sound like a jumbled mess. I managed to get there in the end and produced a decent enough scratch track for the drummer to record to. Listen to the scratch track below.
I used a 6 string guitar tuned to Drop A (which is a very low tuning) to help produce that heavy tone I was going for, it also allows me to get a more percussive sound from the guitar due to the strings needing to be thicker in order have any kind of tension. This low tuned percussive sound is something that was needed to really get this Doom vibe going and to somewhat mimic what the original track was doing as well. I didn't really follow a specific key signature because I didn't think it was entirely necessary for this project seeing as the track was mostly about rhythm and I only really played a couple of different notes, I mainly just did what ever I thought sound good and aesthetically appropriate. I recorded the guitar as a DI into Pro Tools and used an amp sim to produce the distortion needed for a metal track, this meant that I didn't have to mic up a real amp just to record some scratch tracks. I also wanted that harsh digital distortion instead of a smoother tube amp sound, more about that later.
The drums for this track didn't have to be complicated so a very basic setup was used, the input list was as follows -
Kick in - D112
Kick out - Beta 57
Snare top - Sm57
Snare bottom - Sm57
Tom 1 - MD421
Tom 2 - MD421
Stack cymbal - Sm57
OH L - C414
OH R - C414
Room 1 - R121
Room 2 - R121
A couple of pictures from the session.
The 2 C414 over head mics are placed relatively high over the cymbals and spaced wide, this is to capture a good overall kit sound that has a decent amount of left and right separation, this was also enough to pick up all of the cymbals without spot mics but I did put one on the stack cymbal as they usually don't cut through as well as single cymbals. I used 2 mics for the kick and the snare so I could capture a fuller sound and provide me with more mixing options later, I have done a few drum recordings and this setup usually works well for me. The R121 mics are in a blumlein configuration placed close to the glass in the first picture above at the same height as the cymbals and roughly in front of the kick drum. This was done to capture some of the reflected sound of the glass whilst still getting a good response from the kick and cymbals, this was a little bit of an experiment so I'll see how it goes in the mixing stage.
The drummer was provided with the track before entering the studio so we could get straight into recording within having to work out what he actually needed to play. I got him to play through and record the track in small sections whilst I evaluated what he was doing, certain sections worked well and others didn't. In these section I helped direct him towards what I was initially envisaging for the track and tried my best to describe what I was thinking, in the end he managed to play something that I was happy with and finished the session with some solid drum takes.
I had a small number of playlists in pro Tools to sift through to find the exact takes I wanted but because I culled a lot of takes as we were tracking I didn't have as many as previous projects (lesson I learnt the hard way when my computer would crash from playlist hell). The drums were mostly in time as well so only minor editing was needed in a couple of places, I also did a tremendous amount of drum editing on my Behemoth covers project a little while ago and didn't want to go through the same hassle especially when its not necessarily needed. When I was completely happy with the drums it was time for final guitar tracking.
Final Guitar and Bass Tracking
The final guitars I recorded were mostly the same as the scratch track I just slightly changed up the intro and ending to feel a bit better. I used the guitar scratch track as a guide then re-recorded each section with the same process, DI guitar into Pro Tools with an amp sim. The amp sim I was using is called Guitar Rig and it has a bunch of different amps and FX pedals to choose which allows people to produce a very wide range of sounds. This was one of the reasons why I wanted to stick with this amp sim and not use my tube amp to record the guitars, I knew that the tone I was after could only be produced with what Guitar Rig had to offer. To produce my guitar sound I duplicated the DI guitar tracks for each separate take, left and right, in order to blend a couple of different amp sounds together. The first tone I created was from a high gain amp sim on the Lead setting which produced a great saturated distortion, I also added an overdrive pedal to help sculpt and slightly saturate the sound even more. I find that trying to get too much gain from the amp itself doesn't seem to work that well and the guitar begin to sound overly distorted (not in a good way) so using a little bit of overdrive really helps to get that extra distortion without sacrificing clarity.
For the duplicated DI guitar used the same amp sim on the Rhythm channel this time but instead of using the overdrive pedal I used a Fuzz to really dirty up the sound. This time I wanted a really dirty and fuzzy tone that could be blended in with the main guitar sound I had produced before, the addition of the fuzz pedal produced more low frequency saturation that really helped to beef up the overall guitar sound. As I was getting a lot more distortion from the fuzz pedal I only needed the amp to be on rhythm and not the high gain lead channel because even though I wanted this sound to be very distorted there is a limit even I'm not willing to cross, see image below of amp settings. I slightly changed up the settings for both of these tones for the other DI guitar to produce a tonal separation, I didn't change too much just a couple of EQ settings, gain, and the microphone selector on the cab.
As for the bass guitar for the most part I followed what the guitars were doing apart from in the poly-rhythmic sections where I tried to follow along with the rhythm of the kick drum. Like everything else I recorded the bass in small sections making sure I played it as in time as possible. I also used a bass guitar amp sim inside of Guitar Rig which was just the very first preset that comes up when loading this amp, see image below. There's really nothing else to say about this process other than I don't like playing bass and in makes my fingers hurt. I got other tonal characteristics out of the bass in the mixing stage but for now that's all I really did.
Now that I have everything tracked all that is left is to mix the track and get it into my Doom sound replacement session, and hopefully I'll get a blog done about that relatively soon.