The View Upon the Horizon is a piece that I wrote just for fun! I was playing around with some chord progressions last Sunday and then stumbled upon this melody. The entire piece was written in about 45 minutes and then I hired a great cellist (https://www.fiverr.com/caroteruel) to record the part for me. She nailed it! This is actually an alternate version where the piano part is also a bit more simplified than the first arrangement; which I feel helps the melody breathe a bit more. The piece reminds me of someone looking over a land that they’re about to leave. The future is somewhat uncertain but their honor and duty propels them forward on their quest.

I hope you enjoy it! And, as always, please get in touch with me should you need custom audio for your next project! I always love working with folks!

You can hear the original version here: https://youtu.be/tdcNMfXIvAA

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!

If you’d like to learn more about me and my services, why not reach out?

In this video tutorial, I discuss how to address edit changes to the film after you’ve already begun writing music to it. While we’d all love to work to 100% locked picture edit but in many cases, that’s just not realistic. There always seems to be, at least, a few changes to the film. I chose to use the You Again web series, which I scored, as an example of using this workflow. I found it really helped and I hope it does the same for you. For more info on You Again go here: http://youagainwebseries.com/ and for more info on me and my work, go here: https://madsenstudios.com/.

Excuse the mic – I ended up using my webcam mic in this video. Even with clean up, it doesn’t sound as good as my studio mics do. Not making that mistake again! I hope you enjoy it!

Megan and the crew over at Glassbottom Games have been busy making Spartan Fist, a first person brawler that is super fun! You punch dudes so hard, their heads explode. All in super cute pixel art style! For more info on the game, go check out http://spartanfist.com/.

Time to get punchin'

Here’s the awesome trailer with music by yours truly:

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

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.

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.

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

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!

Here’s a Chinese New Year inspired theme I did for Beecave Games. Since 2016 was the year of the monkey, the slot theme was named Year of the Golden Monkey. It’s always a fun challenge to write music in a style from another culture than yours. It’s a tricky balance because you want to honor and accurately portray that culture while making the music your own. (And the music needs to work for the multimedia it’s designed for as well.) The artwork was done by the very talented Logynn Hailley! Check out more of her work here: https://www.behance.net/logynn-b-hailley

Reach out if you need a composer and/or sound designer! I hope you enjoy the music! Thanks!