The Scientist - Production Notes
Posted Sep 5, 20:38 with tags , , ,


Some notes on the development and production of The Scientist. Final project screenshot above.

Of course there is a scientist on Planet U. She's risky.

The track was started summer of 2010 as I started working on the Planet U project. The first version is from June that year. It sounded like this:

Ugh. Doesn't sound good, no, but this is often enough for me as a prototype, I have a mental idea of what it will become when I flesh it out. Nobody else gets to hear it like this.

Since then the track stayed in hiatus for a long time. I knew what I wanted to do with it, how I wanted to develop it into production, but I had multiple candidates for the "scientist" song. So the track stayed on ice. Over time those other candidates disappeared into other projects or soundtracks, and eventually winter of 2011/2012, working on Episode 5 I decided to finish the production.

I spent surprisingly much work on subtle sounds and balances. I'm usually building walls of sound, it was a nice  exercise to go the other way, building spaces for sound instead of walls.

For a long time there was a cheesy bossa nova flute involved for the melody line, you can hear an early draft of that in the sketch version. In the final version this is performed by a broken-down lo-fi Hammond organ. I really wanted to have some kind of flute or wind sound there. I therefore spent unhealthy amounts of resources this spring building a Frankenflute, like my other Frankenflugel and Frankenclarinet instruments; a flute built from hundreds of different single flute samples, all taken from different musical recordings through history.

However, when the Frankenflute was finished, it sounded really great in itself, but totally not in the context of this track, it was terrible, it sucked surprisingly hard. This is good example of how I can sometimes spend a lot of time on something that ultimately does not work as intended. Though, not a waste of time in the long run, the Frankenflute will be very usable in other projects. Just not here.

(The track does use a somewhat-working version of a Frankenpizzicato, but not very prominent.)

The first final candidate did not have vocals. I wasn't completely happy with it. It was nice but boring.

During research for another idea this winter I stumbled across the source for the vocals. It's individual words from dialogues throughout a rather splendid B-movie. I catalogued all the words available and re-wrote the text. 

It can be a bit challenging making cut-up words from different locations, sources or situations fit together in a new context. But I've found recording myself as a guide track first and then manipulating the cuts both visually and sonically to ghost myself is the most efficient process. There's an uncanny glimpse of symbolism there.

Earlier vocal versions had a bit more complex texts and vocal lines. But just as with the sound design, I reduced the text design to more simple phrases and ideas.

We discussed a bit back and forth during beta listens how much to make her sing, or at all. We didn't agree, and I can't even agree with myself on a consensus, but I am the dictator so I just decided. This version is like this.