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Manipulation Magic - The Harpsichord

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Ocular Audio

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Before any music was composed for Black Shuck it was key to put thought into what sound palette would work for the purpose of the game. Details of the game and references from the development team led us to agree that keeping the audio quite minimalistic, dark and atmospheric would be the best option. This isn't a game that requires a Hollywood style score. But rather one that plays with the consumers emotions. This needed to be portrayed not just with the gameplay and visuals but also with the audio. In the next few entries in this development blog I will discuss how some of this has been achieved.

As the game is set in the Georgian Period it made sense to me to use instrumentation that would have existed around that time. One of the key instruments of that period was the Harpsichord. Looking back at reference words and music though, the Harpsichord by itself didn't quite fit the bill sonically. This is where production techniques were utilised to help transform the Harpsichord into an instrument that sonically would work better.

Below you can hear an unprocessed, very basic chord progression played on the Harpsichord. As you can hear the instrument is quite brash and in your face. As this game requires some more atmospheric, darker tones some production has to be be done to get a tone that suits.

https://soundcloud.com/ocularaudio/black-shuck-harpsichord-chords-unprocessed/s-SJOI5

Below you can hear processed versions of the chord progression and also a note that has been time stretched and reversed. As I'm sure you will agree these are far from the original sound of the Harpsichord.

https://soundcloud.com/ocularaudio/black-shuck-harpsichord-chords-processed/s-oZtjk

https://soundcloud.com/ocularaudio/black-shuck-harpsichord-processed-note-reverse/s-koO1x
The screen shot below shows what processing was involved on the chord progression. The equaliser eliminated a lot of the high end of the instrument, pushing it further back into the stereo field by taking away the higher frequencies. The clip distortion then added some grit to the sound. This is then followed by chorus, flange and delay.

Screen shot 2014-07-16 at 15.29.22.png

Such production techniques are useful as you can still use an instrument that is say relevant time period wise but doesn't quite suit the mood of the game. So by steering away from using standard sounds or presets, you can increase your sound palette by manipulating the audio.
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Harpsichord Processed Note (Reverse) is one of the creepier things I've heard today -- and I'm sorting through audio assets for a horror game!  Well done.

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Thanks very much. Really nice to know it's had an impact. What's the game if you don't mind me asking? Or can't you say at the minute.

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