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GYPSY FIDDLE

The great folks over at Red Room Audio were kind enough to invite me to test out their new sample library: Gypsy Fiddle. This library is FANTASTIC! I’ve been thankful to be able to play-test and write demos for several of their other products as well include Saga – Acoustic Trailer Percussion, their Celtic Fiddle and their flagship orchestral sample library called Palette. As a user of many sample libraries, it’s always a special treat to get to take an active part in the design and development of a virtual instrument. Without such great tools, like these, I simply couldn’t do my job. Capturing all of the nuances and emotion of gypsy styled violin is a HUGE challenge! Red Room Audio pulled it off flawlessly! Check out my demo below for their Traveler Series Gypsy Fiddle:

PLAYBOY MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

On the SciPlay side of things, two slots are now live and out in the wild. The first is a Playboy themed slot that is set in a magical forest: Playboy Midsummer Night’s Dream. So often fantasy theme slots get paired with light, mysterious orchestral music and while that certainly works… I felt this theme could use more edge. So I opted to create something that fused elements of pop, gothic/Baroque styled harpsichord, a bit of EDM flavor along with pads, distorted guitars and driving drums. Playboy Midsummer Night’s Dream is the featured jackpot slot currently (at the time of writing) on Jackpot Party Casino! I’m very happy with the results and hope you like it as well!

MIXING MOJO

I’m a sucker for all things magical and fantasy. You could say I love a certain wizard with a peculiar scar on his forehead, so when I saw the artwork for Mixing Mojo I knew I was in for a treat! Here’s the bonus track I did for this slot theme. I wanted it to be something that had energy while combining hints of mystery and magic. You’ll find this slot in the Ancient Egypt (world 6) realm on the game. To play Monopoly Casino Slots, and I highly recommend you do, go check out this page: https://apps.facebook.com/monopoly-sl…

Monopoly Slots is just one of several in the line up at SciPlay and you can learn more about who we are and what we do here: https://www.sciplay.com/

SAX CAMP… VIRTUALLY

Like so many things impacted by Covid-19, the Inside:Outside Saxophone Retreat had to be cancelled this year. Lots of people were SUPER bummed and we missed the creativity, community and magical spark we get from being around and learning from each other. So the awesome leaders behind the camp threw together an amazing virtual hang out with some MAJOR players in the musical realm. The list included Chris Potter, Kirk Whalum, Joshua Redman, Victor Wooten, Bob Reynolds, Bob Franceschini, Bob Hemenger, Chris Cheek, Jeff Coffin and many more. Plus tons of students that hail from literally all over the world. What an event! Here are some pics from the event.

What an amazing and giving community we have in the Inside:Outside Saxophone Retreat world. Click this link: Victor Wooten Center for Music and Nature to learn more about the various camps and programs happening year around! You better believe I have plans to attend more as time and money (and pandemics) allow!! Please check them out!

WHO AM I?

Nate Madsen is a 15 year industry vet who’s worked in games, films, taught college courses and has performed and recorded in various settings on both piano and saxophone. He’s been with SciPlay for 3+ years and has been running Madsen Studios LLC since 2005. Some of his freelance projects include SkateBird as well as providing sound design, mixing and mastering audio FUNimation anime trailers. On the weekends he likes to be very still and watch the grass grow. He’s considering taking up the bagpipes and really enjoys craft beer. There’s also the chocolate addiction and the Dad jokes collection. He’s currently living in Austin, TX and his is favorite color is green. He’s also trying to increase the number of push ups he can do at one time. You can get in touch with him here: https://madsenstudios.com/contact/

SKATEBIRD FEATURED IN ID@XBOX SUMMER SPOTLIGHT SERIES!

Our friendly, feathered skateboarding hero is one of the games featured in the ID@Xbox Summer Spotlight Series. Megan Fox, the founder, main programmer and designer behind all things done by Glass Bottom Games, discusses the origins of Skatebird and how it came into being. Plus you can see some more of the game as well as hear some of my music. Production is still happening on the game and I’m really excited with how things are moving forward. Later in the near I’m hoping to create a subscription for folks to be able to interact with me more directly, see some of the behind-the-scenes to the creation of the music for Skatebird and even possibly hear some tracks early. There will be more details about this in the future. Follow Megan, Glass Bottom Games and me for more news on Skatebird!

OTHER HAPPENINGS…

I released another “jam” session of me playing the jazz standard “My Foolish Heart” and you can hear that here. These jam videos are super informal – I mean – just look at what I’m wearing. But they’re fun and it’s a great way to stay active on my horn. I hope to do more soon.

THROW BACK THURSDAY…. TO 2004!

While working on some other things, I found an old track I did with a collaborator online. At the time I was very active on Sony’s Acid Planet. This was an online community of musicians/producers who would share, rate and give feedback on each other’s works. Acid Planet, which was taken down a little over two years ago now, was a HUGE milestone for me. It was the first time that I was getting feedback on my work from people who had no direct ties to me. It wasn’t a girlfriend, a buddy or a family member saying “sounds good” and it wasn’t me doubting if they were just being nice or not. In short, it was the first time I considered maybe I could actually create content people wanted to hear. Maybe I could do this for a job?

I eventually met (virtually) another artist I admired named “Esoteric Poet” (I think his real name was Joel????) and he had a guitar track that I really enjoyed but it was unfinished. He wasn’t sure where to take it next so I asked if I could add some things to it. He kindly agreed so I took to adding vocals, piano and some alto saxophone. Since this piece was near the very beginning of exploration into production, there’s A LOT here that I’d do differently now. I was also a poor graduate student so the gear I had was MINIMAL. On all fronts. Sadly, I don’t have the master session anymore as that PC died ages ago. So all I have is the master audio file. The guitar track wasn’t exactly in tune so I had to work around that. It was also a sort of noisy track, which was cleaned up some.

Regardless, I think some of the blemishes on it actually serve the song well. I think it adds to some of the vibe. Maybe you agree? Maybe not! 🙂 I’m sharing because I like the piece and the arrangement. I also appreciate that the piece signifies to me: a very early collaboration with a stranger and putting myself out there for real. I had no idea those first small footsteps would lead to where I am now but I’m so very thankful! To learn more about what Acid Planet was (and see some of the reactions to the shut down announcement) go here: https://www.magix.info/us/forum/shutting-down-acidplanet-com–1206014/

You can check out that video below:

SOME NEW SLOT MUSIC

On the casino/virtual slots side – I released the Bonus Intro, Loop and Outro themes I did for Game of Life – Spinner Frenzy. I really dug working on this slot and felt that the music did a good job of capturing the fun and energetic feel of the slot and the IP. Take it out for a spin…. eh… see what I did there?

A NEW VLOG – EPISODE 40!!

And FINALLY, I did another vlog about nailing your pitch to prospective clients/employers. I think these tips are helpful and hopefully you’ll agree. Take a peek below:

MORE TO COME

There’s more to come but for now I’m still under NDA and cannot speak about them right now. But trust me, I cannot wait to share this stuff with all of you when I’m able! Covid-19 is STILL around and it’s really starting to wear me down. Doing my best to keep energy up, positive attitude and productivity happening. But being hunkered down for so long, with two small kids, can get tiring. Hope you all are staying healthy and safe. Take care of yourself!

WHO AM I?

Nate Madsen is a 14 year industry vet who’s worked in games, films, taught college courses and has performed and recorded in various settings on both piano and saxophone. He’s been with SciPlay for 3+ years and has been running Madsen Studios LLC since 2005. Some of his freelance projects include SkateBird as well as providing sound design, mixing and mastering audio FUNimation anime trailers. On the weekends he likes to be very still and watch the grass grow. He’s considering taking up the bagpipes and really enjoys craft beer. There’s also the chocolate addiction. He’s currently living in Austin, TX and his is favorite color is green. He’s also trying to increase the number of push ups he can do at one time. You can get in touch with him here: https://madsenstudios.com/contact/

One of SciPlay’s Casinos, Goldfish, has a new feature called Ruby Reef. I had the pleasure of providing the music and sound design for this feature. Lobby themes tend to be on the shorter side of things and this track is about 52 seconds long. One aspect I’m pretty happy with is how I fused two different styles together and you can hear that change over at 35 seconds. Another element I’m happy with is layering in various recordings of my voice singing the melody with the horns during the A section. I intentionally tucked these vocal parts in a bit so it’s not super noticeable but adds a certain warmth and texture to the melody. I wanted the theme for Ruby Reef to be cool, energetic and sleek. I think the theme hits those marks pretty well and hopefully you’ll agree!

So many rubies…

This track has, at least to me, a unique vibe. It feels retro and modern at the same time. The Goldfish Casino has several new features, some new artwork as well as new sounds. Go check out the game and see for yourself!

WHO AM I?

Nate Madsen is a 14 year industry vet who’s worked in games, films, taught college courses and has performed and recorded in various settings on both piano and saxophone. He’s been with SciPlay for 3 years and has been running Madsen Studios LLC since 2005. On the weekends he likes to be very still and watch the grass grow. He’s considering taking up the bagpipes and really enjoys craft beer. He’s currently living in Austin, TX and his is favorite color is green. You can get in touch with him here: https://madsenstudios.com/contact/

How’s that for a title? 🙂 But this update is HUGE. Saxophones… skateboarding birds, fighting quadrupeds, E3 devolving, Careless Whispers… lots to discuss. Let’s dig in!

Devolver E3 Conference

So life has been crazy but very good lately and I’ve got several things to update you all on. First off, I was lucky enough to provide some saxophone recordings to John Robert Matz’s score for this year’s Devolver E3 conference. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can stream the entire video here:

John Robert Matz is an amazing composer and musician that I’ve been friends with since 2015-ish when we first jammed in a hotel conference room at GDC. And then got politely kicked out because it was after hours! 😛 John was kind enough to ask me to record some alto saxophone parts and I had a blast being a part of it! You can hear one of the cues here: https://johnrobertmatz.bandcamp.com/track/linda

SkateBIRD

SkateBird, developed by Glass Bottom Games with music by Nathan Madsen.
This bird’s gotta smooth ride.

It’s also been a while since I’ve done an update on SkateBIRD! There’s plenty I’m not allowed to discuss yet but what I can share with you is that we funded our Kickstarter and then some! Our initial goal was $20k, which would be enough to allow us to make the base game but thanks to an amazing community and tons of really positive press, we reached $67,200!! This allows for several cool stretch goals to be added to the game including:

Breadslices of Life – unlock side stories exploring the rise of birb skating
Skate Heaven – bonus level
Super Create-A-Birb – deeper level of customizing your birb
Pet-A-Birb – you can now pet your birb in-game
Outdoor Skate Park – another bonus level… that’s OUTSIDE!
Birb in Many Shapes – allows for more unique shapes of birb models which increase the amount of birb species we can have in-game
Photo Mode – makes the in-game screen shot mode much more in-depth

You can hear some of the OST I’m working on here:

The Heron eats many fish.

Them’s Fighting Herds

Cue the insanity…

Back in 2016 I started working with an indie developer, Mane6, on a neat fighting game called Them’s Fighting Herds. I was in charge of doing the sound design for all of the creatures, special abilities and spells. It was a really fun project. Fast forward to SkateBIRD (mentioned above) and I discovered that Glass Bottom Games and Mane6 have partnered up! Mane6 is creating artwork from the characters in Them’s Fighting Herd for use on in-game skateboards. What a crazy twist and talk about a small world! Here’s one of them that I absolutely LOVE:

If I could skateboard in real life, I’d TOTALLY have one of these…

You can see and hear some of Them’s Fighting Herds and my sound design here:

Inside:Outside Saxophone Retreat

Plenty of late nights running jazz standards, improvising or working on technique. And Careless Whispers…

This is how my studio looks most days and nights. Outside of game audio, I’m still woodshedding my saxophone quite a bit in prep of this year’s Inside:Outside Retreat. This year’s feature guest lecturer is Jeff Coffin, who’s played with Dave Matthews Band, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and many others. And Bob freakin’ Reynolds will be there too (guy’s a KILLER player) among several other amazing musicians. I’m both super excited and terrified. Should be a great week of learning and growing! And yes… I use my piano as a desk/work bench. DON’T JUDGE ME!

That’s about it (for now)…

That’s about it for this update. There are a few other things I’m taking part in that I cannot talk too much about right now. I’m working on some sound design for a VST. Still working at SciPlay and loving it. As more things get made public, I’ll be sure to update y’all. On the personal side, we’ve got some family vacation planned soon (cannot wait) and I’m trying to get back into the routine of working out and eating better. (Curse you chocolate!)

WHO AM I?

Nate Madsen is a 14 year industry vet who’s worked in games, films, taught college courses and has performed and recorded in various settings on both piano and saxophone. He’s been with SciPlay for nearly 3 years and has been running Madsen Studios LLC since 2005. On the weekends he likes to be very still and watch the grass grow. He’s considering taking up the bagpipes and really enjoys craft beer. He’s currently living in Austin, TX and his is favorite color is green. You can get in touch with him here: https://madsenstudios.com/contact/

Big announcement! Madsen Studios LLC and family are moving to beautiful Austin, TX! I’ve accepted an in-house position as a composer/sound designer for Bee Cave Games. Should be a lot of fun with plenty of BBQ and Tex Mex sprinkled in for extra flavor. My family and I will certainly miss Austin, TX. It’s a magnificent city and a wonderful place to call home. We’re trading out the pine trees and mountains for cacti and palm trees! As we get more settled in, I’ll be offering my services as a saxophonist and pianist as well as a private lessons teacher for the greater Austin area.

If you’re local, hit me up! If you’re not, let’s stay in touch!

Looking for some tips for hiring a live musician? I can help! I’m lucky enough to get hired to play saxophone and/or piano quite often for clients. It’s a great way to keep my reading/playing chops up, earn a few extra bucks and get involved with new projects. Over the years I’ve noticed ways to make hiring a live musician more streamlined, for both the client and the player. Some of these are things I’ve done myself when hiring someone and other times it’s things I’ve seen others do when hiring me.

Here’s a quick-n-dirty list of those things:

1) Know the range of the instrument(s) in your music.

Sometimes I have to rewrite parts for people because they’re out of the range of my saxophone. I never like changing someone’s music, because that’s not my role as a hired player. I want to capture their music as closely as possible. Best way to avoid this is to do a little bit of study of whichever instrument(s) you plan to have recorded live. Check for things like standard range of the instrument and if it’s a transposing instrument or not. (I don’t mind transposing at all but not having to transpose a part does speed things up for me and the client!) Google instrument ranges or pick up a college orchestration book (The Art of Orchestration is an EXCELLENT resource for things like this!) More modern sample libraries can help but even then you want to know if you’re writing in the super-hero range or the more “normal” range of that instrument! If you gave a trumpet player nothing but super high Cs to play for a full hour, you’re gonna wear out that player much faster than if the part was using lower notes! It also comes down the ability of the musician you’ve hired!

Sub point: Consider delivering the parts a few days early so your musician can look it over. This way you can avoid any snags once in the studio, where every minute costs money!

2) Include an audio recording of the MIDI/sample mock up.

The problem with working with samples is sometimes the MIDI and the audio output don’t match up. Think of a sample that when cued, plays a whole note with a crescendo. The audio sounds like a long tone but the MIDI data shows a short note. This literally happened today with a saxophone recording I was doing. Thankfully, the client was smart enough to also include an audio recording of that MIDI, so I knew to hold out that note and crescendo. But without that audio file, I would have delivered a much different recording – only to the frustration of my client and would’ve had to re-record things to fix it. Re-recording things means more studio time and that means more cost to you, the client.

3) Make your parts “native” to the instrument you’re writing for.

I’m not really a guitarist so if I were writing a guitar part, I’d first check with some of my guitar playing friends to see if what I’m after is even possible on guitar. Is it idiomatic or does it conflict with how the instrument organically plays? Depending on the ability of the musician you’ve hired to record, this could possibly be an issue. As a saxophonist, I can play most things but there are certain regions of the horn where highly technical playing is more difficult for me than others. If you want the low Bb note (the lowest note on most saxophones) to be super duper soft and played as 16th notes repeatedly at a tempo of 190, that’s gonna be challenging! But move it up just one octave and I could play those 16th notes all day. Look for tiny compromises in your music where the musician can quickly and easily nail the part for you but still deliver the song/vision you’ve composed.

4) Musicians have to breathe too.

I’m guilty of this one myself! My track, The Market was written back in 2006 for a game that never came out. I designed the flute part to be an ostinato over much of the piece. While it sounded cool on my computer, it was KILLER on my live flute player once we had it recorded! Give your parts some life and flow by putting in spots where the player would rest or at least breathe. I’ve found it helpful to sing the part and mark where I need to breathe myself, then consider adding in a little lift in the rhythm or changing the music so it’s more singable. This could also change your piece’s structure and give it more direction, instead of rambling along.

5) Clean up your MIDI data.

If you choose to deliver MIDI as notation for your player, please clean it up to make it as easy to read as possible. Make sure measure numbers coincide with the master score you’ll be referencing in the control booth. (Again, this is a mistake I made once by having the score and part render out different regions, therefore the measure numbers didn’t match up!) Include rehearsal numbers or letters to help mark chunks of the piece. This is especially helpful when having your musician redo or start somewhere in the middle of the piece. Quantize your MIDI data so the rhythms are as readable as possible. This is especially true if you played the parts in yourself instead of point-n-click with a mouse. Put in dynamics, articulations and phrase markings (even by hand if needed!) to help translate as much of the performance as possible to your player.

6) Communicate!

Most musicians I know and work with really enjoy recording parts for composers. They want to help bring your music to life! Perhaps you don’t have or don’t know how to use Finale, Sibelius or Notion. That’s okay! Write in notes by hand to help communicate what you want out of the performance. Talk with the musician beforehand. Give references and ideas. In other words, you simply cannot over communicate… as long as you’re not conflicting yourself. 😛 During the recording session, be firm about what you want. Nothing is more confusing or frustrating than a wishy-washy client! You know this music better than anyone else in the room. Own it and let your musician know if things are not going in the right direction. Politely, of course. Having said that, also be open to your musician’s ideas as they’re the expert on that particular instrument. Strike a balance.

Summary

Hiring a live musician is one of the best ways to bring your music to life! Yes, amazing results can be achieved with modern virtual instrument libraries but a living, breathing human can bring so much more! Both in regards to playing as well as presenting new ideas for you music. “Have you considered this note instead of that note?” “What about a glissando up to this part?” “This part of the horn is more muffled, what if we took it up an octave?” And so on. Use these tips to help keep your recording session as efficient as possible. It will be mean less cost and stress for you and a more enjoyable process for everyone else involved!

Happy recording!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Austin, TX. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands.

Here’s a quick snippet of some solo saxophone I did for a client. I can’t share the backing track but I thought the horn by itself sounded pretty nice. Happy Thursday!

I’m available for any saxophone or piano recordings you may need, as well as custom music and sound!

Howdy one, howdy all!

Just a friendly reminder that Madsen Studios LLC is currently taking on new students for either piano or saxophone. I also teach composition and production.

Check out this link for more info!

https://madsenstudios.com/private-lessons/

Here’s a unique soundtrack: chiptune jazz. Trust me, it’s hard to make 8-bit samples swing! But I think the outcome was pretty successful. But don’t take my word for it, take the soundtrack out for a spin.

And check out the game itself: http://www.glassbottomgames.com/projects/hot-tin-roof/

 
I’ll be joining Erya on stage to help promote CFC (Cops Fighting Cancer) this coming Saturday Feb. 25th. Show starts at 7PM. Come hear some great music, enjoy yummy drinks and food and support this great cause! To hear some of the music we’ll be playing jump on over to: http://www.eryamusic.com/fr_home.cfm