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Savage Planet

I was very pleased to help out with a new Kickstarter for a new boardgame called Savage Planet: Fate of Fantos. This is my second time to work with Imp House Games. The first time was helping out with the music, sound design and mix for their other Kickstarter for Chaos of Cthulhu. This team has consistently impressed me with their creative and fun boardgames!

The Kickstarter is doing very well – already up to over $8K on the second day! Well to their goal of $12,500!

For this video, I produced the music, sound design and mixed in the narration up to the 1:28 mark. Go check out Savage Planet: The Fate of Fantos and please consider backing this awesome board game!

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Rainbow Splash

Pixel Carrot Studio hired me to compose music for their new puzzle game called Rainbow Splash. I’ve worked with them before on another ambient, relaxing puzzle game so I was very excited to partner up for another title. I ended up writing three tracks of music, each about two minutes long.

Below you can see the game’s trailer, hear a portion of one of the tracks and see how the game plays. I think it looks gorgeous and I love how the look of the game changes!

Go grab the game from iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rainbow-splash/id1215505525?ls=1&mt=8

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Titanfall: Assault Announced!

Major update!

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve been helping out as a sound designer on the next Titanfall game for mobile called Titanfall: Assault. Working with Particle City has been a fantastic experience and I’m so excited for the game to finally be announced! Here’s the info from the game website:

Join the fight for The Frontier in this fast and fluid real-time strategy game. Combine towering Titans and agile Pilots to build an unstoppable force.

Put your skills to the test as you assemble the ultimate deck of Pilots and Titans paired into heroic duos. Collect and upgrade dozens of cards including tactical Burn Cards providing powerful battlefield support. Strategize your way to victory over enemy forces in epic PvP battles and compete for glory and rewards on the leaderboards.

Combine and conquer. Unite and destroy. And lead your forces to victory in The Frontier War.

Go register now so you can jump in once the game is live!

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Using Tempo for Added Realism

Using Tempo to Add More Realism

One of the best ways composers can add more realism to their pieces is with tempo changes. This is especially true when writing for orchestra, big band, jazz combos and even certain rock songs. In this video tutorial I discuss how and why I use tempo changes to help make a piece feel more organic. I also detail how tempo changes may differ from a solo performance versus a large ensemble. The example piece featured in this video is War Upon The Sea which you can hear in it’s entirety here: https://youtu.be/BGMoxGkBHYU.

Of course this approach won’t apply to every style of music or every song. Experiment and see how these kinds of edits can help strengthen your song. Go make your tracks more organic and leave more space for your listener’s emotions! Put in some tempo changes where they make musical sense. It can make such a difference – even small changes! I hope that you find the quick tutorial helpful and please feel free to leave comments and feedback. I enjoy reading them!

Should you need custom audio for your next project, let’s chat!

Thanks!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Cedar Falls, IA. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow.

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Post mortem – Photosynthesis

Post mortem – Photosynthesis

I just did a recent post mortem on a hybrid track I composed/produced called Photosynthesis. In this video, I discuss the various sample libraries used and how I have my session set up. I show each sound element by itself, with and without effects applied and then show how the end product sounds. Other topics in this video include automation as well as side chaining compression to make drum impacts sound larger in the mix.

You can hear the whole track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLsYKFpO3-M This track is currently available for license. As I get more time, I’ll be doing more of these videos to share tricks and tips on audio production. If you have a specific question, I’d love to see how I can help answer it!

If you need custom audio, hit me up!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Cedar Falls, IA. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow.

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Photosynthesis – Hybrid Ambient Cue

Here’s an hybrid ambient track that I did while testing out some new sounds and approaches in my studio.

Getting new libraries and trying out new techniques is always super inspiring. It’s at the heart of what makes hybrid writing so much fun. Almost anything goes! I hope it comes through in the music! For this track I wanted to create some interesting textures that feature a decent amount of movement. I also wanted the orchestration to grow and increase up to a climatic point and then leave the listener’s mood somewhat ambiguous. Does the song resolve on a positive note or is there still some drama hidden below the surface? I hope you enjoy the track! The music is currently available for license.

I’m still doing my day job at SGI as a senior composer/sound designer and freelancing at nights. On the weekends, I fight crime while wearing spandex. It’s a living! Need custom audio for your next project? Get in touch!

Hope you enjoy the new track!

– Nate

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The Big Move to Cedar Falls, IA!

Back in Sept of this year, my family and I moved from Austin, TX up to Cedar Falls, IA so I could begin working for Scientific Games Interactive. For those not in the know, SGI (https://www.sginteractive.com/) is one of the largest and most successful virtual casino gaming companies in the world! Currently over 9,000 employees! I was honored to accept the position of Senior Composer/Sound Designer at this prestigious company. Making a big move across the country is always interesting and while we certainly miss our friends and family in Texas (as well as all of the BBQ and Tex-Mex) we’re loving life here in Cedar Falls! Nothing I’ve worked on has been released publicly yet but I’m eager to share some of the work I’ve been doing with SGI once it’s made live!

BTW, I’m still freelancing, so hit me up if you have a project that needs audio. Also stay tuned for some announcements of some of the side projects I’ve been working on lately! Happy holidays and Merry Christmas.

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A Tense Moment – 48 hour film project

48 hours to make a film?!

During the summer, I took part in the 48 Hour Film Project, hosted in Austin, TX. It was a blast! For those not familiar with the festival/contest, teams are given 48 hours to create, write, film, edit and produce a short film in 48 hours. To keep things interesting, all submissions had to work in:

– a character’s name
– a prop
– a certain line of dialog

Teams also had to genres randomly assigned to them and could pick which one they wanted to use. It’s a very fun, challenging and fast pace contest! Our film, Until Death Do Us Part, was nominated for eight awards and won four of them! Here’s my favorite music cue from this project:

The whole film should be released to the public soon. Stay tuned! And if you haven’t taken part in a 48 hour film project yet, do it! It’s so much fun.

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You Again – Web Series

In the beginning…

Back in December 2015, I started writing music for a unique, clever and funny web-series called You Again. The musical style is a fusion of different genres and approaches including some jazz mixed with light, comical orchestral, retro video game music and even some Celtic-like elements. Over the months I’ve been writing music and revising cues for each episode. For the most part, things were good with the usual bumps and back-and-forth that any show experiences during production. Then, due to circumstances outside of our control, we found ourselves without the intro music we were planning on licensing for the show’s intro/teaser.

We needed a theme song… and FAST.

The intro is a montage of quirky, fun actions by the two leads of the show and the vibe of the music needed to be fun, energetic, humorous and engaging. The track that we were going to license was a Celtic song filled with fast violin runs, accordion, hand percussion and claps, guitars and singing… in French. It sounded awesome and fit the visuals perfectly. The director, Andrea Kile Peterson, reached out to me and let me know about the situation right away. It was the evening of July 3rd and the show was going live July 6th. We talked about possible options and then I got to work writing a theme song. Writing super fast requires knowing each “trick” or technique used will have a good pay off. There’s no time to rethink, create doubt or even experiment. You just have to get it down and make it good the first time!

The plan.

My goal was to get something to the director by the next morning to allow for any feedback and revision requests. Right off the bat, I knew creating convincing violin runs in a Celtic style would require a lot of time and effort. It’s not impossible but it would take time. I knew we had to have everything finalized by July 5th in time for the launch the following day. So the first thing I simplified was the violin part. Instead of cool, complex Celtic violin lines, which would require lots of articulations and production, I went with quick staccato violin accents. Creating a simpler violin track allowed me to split up my focus and energy across all areas of the track (the drums, the guitars, the accordion, the hand percussion, etc). I had a majority of the piece written out in about 3 hours.

The last thing you want to do is get neck deep in only one layer and ignore the rest of the song. I’ve seen this happen time and time again and it can kill your momentum as well as destroy your time management. Writing quickly is a constant balance between the macro and the micro.

Bringing in some outside help.

For the guitars, I used a mixture of live and looped guitars to help fill up the sound. My buddy, Ben Cockerham, recorded some guitar lines early July 4th morning and they sounded great. Aside from the live guitar parts, everything else was virtual. To help give the piece a sense of evolution and more energy, I had tempo ramp up slightly over the whole song. This also allowed more of the hits to match up with the visuals. Mixing in the guitars and doing a final mix pass took about an additional 2 hours.

The take away.

By creating a plan and having a defined target, I was able to deliver the finished track to the director the very next morning. She gave some good feedback, I tweaked the mix and production a bit more and then got approval. All in, the entire song took about 6-7 hours to create.

Working quickly is a rush! It’s fun and it’s a challenge. I always view it as “Am I up for this challenge?! Can I do it?!” By focusing on what I knew I could delivery quickly and avoiding what would cause major time sinks and difficulties, I was able to create a theme song literally in the last minute with little stress and have a blast while doing it. The next time you’re in a crunch mode, ask yourself how you can ensure the highest odds of success. What are your “go to” bag of tricks and methods to help get the job done super fast?

The finished product!

You can see the final result below! And go check out the series, Episode 1 is now live!

Interested in me and my work? Reach out! I’d love to work with you!

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Buzzopoly (big band)

Buzzopoly features some of the big band music I composed while working at Beecave Games. Driving drums, walkin’ bass lines, a soaring sax solo, punching brass stabs combined with scatting vocals make this an energetic and fun song!

The backstory

In my opinion, creating big band music with virtual instruments is extremely hard. Part of this is due to the large amount of inflections and articulations big band music requires. Another aspect is trying to create the interplay and give-and-take that live jazz ensembles do while performing. The rhythm section is responding to each other while also responding to the ensemble or solo player. Likewise, the brass and wind instruments are responding to each other as well as the rhythm section. It’s a very organic and fluid thing! To try and create that when being just one person working with 90% virtual instruments can be quite challenging. It can also be quite fun! To be honest, I’m not crazy about my singing voice – never have been. But it gets the job done and it was what I had to work with considering the budget and schedule constraints. All music and vocals are by Nathan Madsen. Final mix and mastering were done by Beecave Games audio director, Greg Allen. I hope you enjoy it!

Get in touch!

Wanna chat with me about your audio needs? Curious about what my favorite dessert is? Wanna challenge me at a round in Rocket League! Get in touch!