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A long-time friend of mine asked me to write a score for his game about ancient Rome, something sort of atmospheric/ambient. I ended up doing it mainly with live instruments (even going out to purchase one, a soprano Kortholt, the day of)-
https://instaud.io/private/b43530f7eff62...8a9b1591ec

I ended up throwing it together Wednesday afternoon/evening in about 6 hours. It's almost entirely improvised except for the final piece, which is a performance of the 1st Delphic Hymn to Apollo (Civ fans will recognize this theme as being used in the music for Civ III, and Civ II as well I believe). Everything is multi-tracked and played live, either on the physical instrument or MIDI keyboard. I also apologize for my somewhat pitchy vocals; I don't sing all that often, but singing was so central to music long ago that it seemed like a crime to make music without it. Probably should have put an auto-tuner on it, but hey, they didn't have auto-tune in 100 B.C.!

Notes from the page-

Quote:A series of improvisations inspired by the sounds and timbres of the ancient world (plus a run through the 1st Delphic Hymn to Apollo at the end).


Some of this is admittedly a little more Medieval, and the instruments played are generally Medieval/Renaissance stand-ins for their ancient equivalents. However, there are a lot of connections between the two, so it isn't an enormous stretch sonically or stylistically.

Physical instruments used:
Soprano Kortholt (substituting for either Aulos, which were also a double-reed, or bagpipe)
Ibex Horn 'Mute Cornetto'*
Tenor Recorder (substituting somewhat for pan pipes)
Horn in Bb - 19th century, Bohemian (substituting for Corni)
Antique Vaudeville Cymbals (very close mic'd and tapped lightly with a timpani mallet to make that drum-like sound; I guess a substitute for timpani)
The human voice - text taken from Book 1 of Virgil's Aeneid

*There are bone flutes with holes drilled in them dating back into the Neolithic, so assuming someone tried drilling holes into a horn at some point isn't really that far off. By the Middle Ages, the gemshorn (ocarina made of a cow horn) existed with holes drilled in the bone for pitches. However, there's no historical evidence that this particular instrument (essentially a cornetto made of Ibex horn) ever existed in any time period. This is a one-off instrument made by Andrew Hallock.

Sampled Instruments used:
Frame Drums & Tambourine (ft. in '1st Delphic') from VSCO 2 Pro
Etherealwinds Harp II (folk lever harp)

Recorded, Mixed, & Mastered in Mixbus 32C
Sam! That's some amazing music. If you were going for an ancient Roman vibe then I must say mission accomplished; for me this definitely makes me think Roman Empire or even ancient Greece even though, as you say, some instruments are Medieval. Very atmospheric. Gave me a Gladiator kind of vibe, though more honest and real.

Speaking of Gladiator, and ancient music, what is that instrument played at around 7:16? It's like a weird mix of a Duduk and Uillean Pipes. It's gorgeous!
(05-27-2018, 01:44 AM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]Sam! That's some amazing music. If you were going for an ancient Roman vibe then I must say mission accomplished; for me this definitely makes me think Roman Empire or even ancient Greece even though, as you say, some instruments are Medieval. Very atmospheric. Gave me a Gladiator kind of vibe, though more honest and real.

Speaking of Gladiator, and ancient music, what is that instrument played at around 7:16? It's like a weird mix of a Duduk and Uillean Pipes. It's gorgeous!

Thanks Mattias! I'm glad you enjoyed it and thought it fit the job.

The instrument at 7:16 (and 1:24) is the Soprano Kortholt. Its construct is actually pretty close to a simple bagpipe chanter, although the bore double-backs on itself like a bassoon- the actual instrument is only like 12 inches long but sounds like something that would be 24 inches long as a result. It has characteristics resembling both crumhorns (another capped double-reed) and racketts (which had a bore which went around itself to make a very compact and also very quiet instrument).

I had never played the instrument before (literally bought it the day of recording), but the fingerings are similar to recorder, so it wasn't too hard to get going. The one thing to note is that the instrument is actually very quiet, no louder than a somewhat quiet talking voice- the actual sound comes out of the finger holes and one tiny hole about 1-2 mm wide.

The sound is coincidentally somewhat close to the pipes that were in use in the ancient world, although most of those were even more limited in range and notes than the kortholt, as far as I am aware. Interestingly, it seems the ancient Romans and Greeks used double-reed instruments heavily, at least much more than perhaps flute instruments.
Fascinating stuff. I've actually never heard of it, but now I almost want one. So it's a double-reed instrument? How much practice does it take to learn reed instruments? I mean I have some experience with fipple flutes like whistles and recorders, and I also have a fife and a keyless Irish flute, so the fingering I could probably figure out with a little practice. But I've never played a reed instrument before.
(05-28-2018, 07:57 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]Fascinating stuff. I've actually never heard of it, but now I almost want one. So it's a double-reed instrument? How much practice does it take to learn reed instruments? I mean I have some experience with fipple flutes like whistles and recorders, and I also have a fife and a keyless Irish flute, so the fingering I could probably figure out with a little practice. But I've never played a reed instrument before.

It's a double-reed, but it has a cap on top, so you blow into it normally like a recorder (your lips don't contact the reed at all; instead, the reed is held at the right width to vibrate when air is blown through, like a bagpipe).

The fingerings for both crumhorn and kortholt are similar enough to Renaissance recorder fingerings that you can get a decent result if you know them.

I should note that the crumhorn is a lot louder than the kortholt, if you want something that is easier to record/use.

The only issue with these instruments is that if you don't know how to make reeds or know someone who can, if you do end up with a bad reed or other reed issues, you're kind of out of luck unless you can hunt down a commercially available one.
Well done Sam! This is a very effective atmospheric track. It sort of feels like acoustic "long form." Your improvisational approach reminds me a bit of the Berlin School synth artists (Klaus Schultze, Tangerine Dream, etc). I like the use of the close miked cymbal being used in an unexpected way, too.
(05-29-2018, 02:55 AM)Nayrb Wrote: [ -> ]Well done Sam! This is a very effective atmospheric track. It sort of feels like acoustic "long form." Your improvisational approach reminds me a bit of the Berlin School synth artists (Klaus Schultze, Tangerine Dream, etc). I like the use of the close miked cymbal being used in an unexpected way, too.

Thanks, Nayrb! The cymbal was sort of an accidental discovery, but it turned out pretty great sounding, I think.

Did a new track yesterday-
https://instaud.io/2fa4

Just got a lyre in the mail and I already got to use it in something! Will definitely be sampling it later for VCSL.
(05-29-2018, 12:22 PM)Samulis Wrote: [ -> ]Just got a lyre in the mail and I already got to use it in something! Will definitely be sampling it later for VCSL.

Looking forward to that! A lyre sample bank has been on my wish list for awhile.