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At the end of last year, I wrote and recorded a Christmas song. It was fun having a definite theme to work with and as October approached, I wanted to recapture some of that fun with Halloween. When I got started, what I had in mind was something like a dance version of the Monster Mash. What I ended up with was significantly darker and more gruesome than that.

I created the bass line which drives most of the song back in September. For whatever reason, it gave me this picture of a rich guy relaxing in a posh parlor room, thinking that his money would protect him from the apocalypse. I also thought the sound was a good blend of foreboding in a minor key–without being too minor. Although the ‘story’ evolved away from that exact picture in my mind, it’s still in there somewhere.

With the addition of a sparse drum track, I started playing with a soundscape in the background. Discovering the public domain sounds on freesound.org was like a finding buried treasure. I sourced sounds of thunder, wind, rain, breathing, walking, rocking, and pretty much everything else there. Honestly, I got a little lost in the soundscape. When I listen to it now, I can hear a very definite story progressing, but it is more than likely lost on anyone else. It’s just noises back there, really. But they make sense to me.

The drums also posed a challenge. While I liked the clean sound originally, a friend pointed out that it was in a bit of discordance with the overall theme of the song. Making drums startling, doesn’t make them scary. I agreed, they were a bit too familiar. After tinkering, I really liked the sound of a random pitch wobble in the cymbals. While still unmistakably cymbals, they fit between the grungy guitar and bass, and mimic the trembling in the song itself. Much better.

This is the third song in a row sticking mostly to traditional ‘band’ instruments. There’s a reason they became so common and I would wager it has to do with how the individual frequencies of those instruments don’t collide with each other too much.

Just two more months to go!