Sevish Music

Instruments and FX used in Rhythm and Xen

It goes without saying (actually maybe it doesn’t) that if you want to make microtonal music, you need to have the right tools. For my album Rhythm and Xen I found the perfect set of tools that worked for me to get the sound that I wanted. And all while bending notes like a madman.

Stream and download Rhythm and Xen

First the machine: I produced half the tracks on a home-built desktop computer running Windows 7. The other half were produced on an Acer laptop running Windows 8. That should tell you there’s no need to get fancy and expensive, just grab a computer made within the last 5 years and start writing.

My DAW of choice is Ableton Live 9. I used to be an FL Studio user – a really common phrase for my generation – but when I picked up Ableton Live I preferred the workflow and the base functionality. There was no looking back.

As for the default synths that come with Live, throw ‘em out. They can’t be microtuned, so they’re only good for making music that everybody else makes.

For me, the key to making microtonal music in a DAW is to find some microtunable VSTs that you like the sound of. So here are the 5 VSTs I used in Rhythm and Xen:

U-He ACE

I love the sound design potential of this synth, and the VA waveforms sound nice for a digital synth.

Xen-Arts FMTS 2

FM synthesis built from the ground up to get spectrally microtuned sideband partials… what’s not to like? And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s just a good FM synth. :)

Xen-Arts IVOR

Virtual analog with some weird characteristics, quirky yet bold.

Xen-Arts XenFont

It’s a SoundFont player. When you’re craving some 12-bit sounds.

Garritan Personal Orchestra 4

An affordable orchestral sound bank, nuff said. Sadly, the more I work with GPO4, the more I can recognise it from a mile off. So now that Rhythm and Xen is complete I’m gonna retire this one.

As far as VST instruments go, these 5 were all I needed. Although, I did create a couple of my own sound generators in Max/MSP to fulfil other needs. But if you’ve seen my downloadable music resources then you already know what those are.

FX and others

FX wise, I just love the collection from Variety of Sound. NastyDLA is all over this record, and I used some of their bus compressors in mastering. These plugins are amazing and free!

Oli Larkin’s Endless Series v3 is a really unique effect which can generate Shepard tones, endlessly rising tones. But the killer bit is, it can do endlessly rising or descending phaser and flanger effects too. You can create a sense of urgency doing this (great risers), or else just come up with some cool sound designs.

Sevish - Rhythm and Xen (Front cover)In the liner notes for Rhythm and Xen there a track-by-track breakdown of what instruments and compositional techniques were used. Some geeks just gotta know.

Download the album: https://sevish.bandcamp.com/album/rhythm-and-xen


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