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  • Ryan van Eerde

Finishing and Evolving the Scratch Track


The Completion


Completing the scratch track was fairly easy once I got going, and I didn't really come across any more major hurdles like I mentioned in my week 3 blog. As it all started to come together I moved a few sections around that I thought were playing too often just so the song would sound as repetitive. As I found out doing the Killer Instinct track teardown, that track is always changing and evolving to keep the listener interested and that's what I tried to do for this project.


Once the track was finished I couldn't help but feel it was a little slow and wasn't driving and pumping as much as I would have liked, to solve this problem I decided to re-record my guitar tracks at a higher tempo. I first started at 200Bpm but it still wasn't doing it for me so I tried to push myself and record at 210Bpm. Finally it started to sound and feel a lot more like an Extreme Metal which but playing at that high tempo is not an easy thing to do.


To make sure this tempo would be viable for the end results I recorded 2 guitar tracks that could be used and re-amped and made sure I could play them in time (roughly in time) with each other, otherwise I would have to settle with recording the guitars at a tempo I could actually play. Luckily I managed to do them relatively competently and the track stayed at 210Bpm (i did consider trying to record them at 220Bpm but that might have been a touch excessive). I also changed up the riffs for the outro to make them feel less repetitive and to really help drive the end of the song.


The finished scratch track

As you can see in the image above I have the 2 guitar tracks, drums, synth guitar, a couple of main melody tracks, and a synth bass track, these are the base components that make up the song. From here its just making the different synths sound better and mixing it all together, easy (not so easy).



Making the Track Sound Better


After finishing the scratch track Oliver and I went into the studio again to work on the synth sounds and add any extra little spices to make the track better. After showing Oliver the track he suggested to put an extra section in the outro that didn't have guitars so that when they come in again it hits even harder and really makes the end of the song more prominent.


Extra section

We had some trouble making the transition between the guitar section sound right, there wasn't any build up or lead in which made this section sound like it just comes out of know where. So what did we do to fix this, a little spot of sound design.

2 sound design elements

For coming out of this new section we wanted to create so kind of slow building up sound that has an explosive crash at the end, I had a couple of sonic boom sounds made by jet planes which we thought could work well to achieve this.

Different stages of creating the first sound design element

We picked 2 sounds to blend together, 1 with a nice slow build up and 1 with a nice big BOOM sound (far left of the above image), they then got recorded down to 1 stereo track (the next clip over). When we aligned the new clip up with to the end of the section it worked well to build up into the next section but it just sounded noticeably too much like a jet. To fix this I had an idea, which was to reverse the track, put a large reverb on it, then reverse it back again, why, because we can and it might just make a sound that is good (and it did). So that's exactly what happened, we removed the tail end of the sound, cut some high frequencies and boosted the low frequencies (the 3rd clip in the above image) just to make it sound less like a jet, then reversed it back, that's it (last clip the finished product). We also added some fades to make it fit in the track better.


The lead in sound was much simpler, it's just a bass drop that has a reverse of itself mixed together, see image below.


Bass drop sound design

The top clip in the image is the finished product and the bottom 2 are how they are mixed together.


From there we just started experimenting with sounds and breaking up the melody sections into different sounds to make everything more interesting. Also added another synth bass sound giving us 2 to blend together to create some nice thick bottom end (because I like my nice thick bottom ends if you know what I mean, 😉)


Evolution of the scratch track

When the synths are sounding the way we want they will be bounced down to audio files, as well as the drums where I can bounce down each individual track to single audio files i.e Kick, Snare, Toms, Over heads, and Room, which is necessary for a successful mixing session (hopefully it's successful).






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