Just finished this today. Holy cow did this cue push me past my limits! I did so many things on this one that I’ve never done before, it has literally changed me.
The competition brief says to compose a short piece for a post-apocalyptic future world where spoken language has been replace by drums as the main form of communication. Orchestral tools gives you a sample pack from Tom Holkenborg’s drum library which you have to use. The samples sound epic, but I was at first a little disappointed that there were only 8 total drums in the pack. Then I thought of a use for that limitation. Since this society speaks with drums, I could invent a drum language. I used the 8 drums to represent 8 different ideas. Then I combined the drums into pairs and assigned a new idea to the pair that I thought made sense. Then I went 3 deep and assigned new ideas to each triplet. This gave me a language with an almost 400 word vocabulary.
I used this language to determine which drums would play at any particular time. I imagined a conversation between 2 tribe leaders trying to end a war. I wrote out the conversation and then translated it into the drum language and used this as a chart to build the composition.
This specified the drums, but not yet the rhythm. For that I recorded myself speaking the lines of the conversation into a track. Then I listed back and tried to imagine rhythms that I felt represented each line’s cadence. Then I recorded my own voice “singing” the rhythms into a new track. Then I grabbed a couple general drum kits as temporary drums and I played in the rhythms that I had just sung. Finally, I moved the drum hits to the appropriate drums in the template I had set up with all the drum types that went along with the drum language.
But I also made my own drum sample library using various items from around my home which I played as drums. I recorded most of these samples with 5 variations for round robins with 3 variations each for dynamic layers. Then I “mapped” these with my drum language, matching them each up with the 8 Orchestral Tools drums.
I have a whole multi-page spreadsheet to map this project out with color-coded everything. Overall, the drum language translation idea mostly, worked. But there were several areas where I fudged what the language said I should put in to try to make it sound good. I played in marching bands when I was in school, and I tried to go for a marching drum corp kind of style. Honestly, I’ll probably re-use the drum language idea in the future. All I have to do is change the base 8 samples to other instruments and it changes the entire thing to something new.
Genre/Style: Film/World Music? Post-Apocolyptic Tribal Drum Corp?
Creative Vision for the Track: see above
Composition Details (Tempo, Key, Main Chords etc):
This stayed close to 120 bpm, but I used the tempo master track to vary it in places I though a real drummer would speed up or slow down.
Doesn’t really have a key, though the tonal pads and kind of hovering around D.
Main Instruments used:
- Samples from Orchestral Tools/Tom Holkenborg’s Full Contact drum library
- Spitfire’s Drumline
- EastWest Stormdrum 2 & 3
- Home Drums (my own samples)
- Spitfire Labs
- Pianobook Winter Voices
- probably a few others I’m missing
BaKa: May I speak?
UhTa: Yes, let us speak.
BaKa: I have great sorrow. For 5 years our tribes have been at war. I have seen the deaths of those I love. I have caused again as much death. I am weary. I wish to let war rest.
UhTa: I am weary too. My sons and daughters have died before me. We cannot live in this way. Yet how can I begin to trust my sworn enemy?
BaKa: I am ready to trust by faith. I will burn my weapon before you for you to see. I will make a feast for you. For you and your family. Our families will eat together. We will talk. This is how we begin.
UhTa: How can we forget the dead? How can my people forget the pain you have caused us?
BaKa: You cannot. We can only honor it together. We honor it by sharing the pain. We embrace in our grief. This is how we begin.
UhTa: How can we forget the things we have lost? The ruined pieces of our home lost in fire and blood? How can we put that behind us?
BaKa: It is behind us. It is the past. It cannot play a single drum in our future. It has no power except through our stubbornness. We walk together ahead. This is how we begin.
UhTa: I cannot walk together with an enemy.
BaKa: We will die as enemies. We will embrace hate. We will remain in stubbornness.
UhTa: I can walk together with a friend.
BaKa: A friend?
UhTa: I will call you friend. This is how we begin.