Category Archives: Modern Originals

Temple Mount

Temple Mount, in my opinion, is one of the most professional-sounding songs I was able to produce in my old studio setup. It’s also the first song written (somewhat) with a purpose in mind. After having a radio show for a while, it seemed like a good idea to have an actual theme for my show. That being said, the inspiration for this song is probably from a remix of “Now We Know” by Hawkeye, which was used as an opening song in one of my first mixes for the program, as it had that kind of “radio news show theme” sound. In the end, though, Temple Mount ended up not sounding much like it – the closest comparison I could make is with some of the electronic sounds found in 80’s New Wave music. As for the name, I composed this music shortly after seeing “Black Hawk Down,” and had initially wanted to name it Mogadishu (in reference to “Madagascar” by Art of Trance, arguably one of the best electronic songs in existence) but decided against it. I finally decided to name it Temple Mount in reference to the horrendous violence that was occurring in the Middle East at the time. After all, if people listened to electronic music instead of blow each other up, wouldn’t the world be a much better place?

Fun Fact: Temple Mount was the intro music to my broadcast radio show, Life to a Beat (on KZSC Radio), for most of its broadcast run.


CoolPad was one of those rare compositions that was actually done incrementally, bit by bit, over the course of a number of weeks. Initially, CoolPad started with a single pattern I was playing on a Reaktor synth that I was demoing. So, I recorded a loop of the pattern, and began adding on other sounds, including tones from Buzzer, Vanguard, and others. Finally, I threw on a fairly simple drum loop, and that was the basic sound. From there, more things were layered on, and various different sounds came into play, finally leading to a breakdown and another buildup (with some sounds almost reminiscent of “Midnight in Berlin”), before finally coming up with a decent ending.

Aside from the main Reaktor pad sound and a few others from the likes of Buzzer, almost everything in this track is done with an instance of Vanguard (except for some EXSP strings). The drum loops (there is actually more than one) are from Garageband Jam Pack 2.

AQ Theme Remix

So, way back in the dawn of internet time (i.e. some time circa the early 2000s or so), I played a flash-based game called AdventureQuest. I won’t provide a link to it here because, well, you can go into your neighborhood mega-mart and find point cards for the game on their giant wall of gift cards, which should really tell you everything you need to know about what the game unfortunately turned into. However, back in the beginning, it was a fairly small, fairly fun game with a pretty decent community, and I had a great time with it. However, at that time, the game didn’t have any music for it, aside from a couple of short sample clips hidden away somewhere on the website of one of the game’s artists. So, I suppose that makes this remix unique – perhaps one of the only remixes from a game that does not yet have music :)

This is a remix of one of the AQ title themes, from their “music development” website. The original track was only 4 bars long, so I had just a bit of work to get it to a piece that lasts over 3 minutes. Still, this track has some good effects, and actually manages not to be too repetitive, while improving the sound quality from the original recording. It is also one of the most complex pieces that I’ve put together using only Harmony Assistant.

And, a random bonus clip:


This is an odd, abstract, and kind of avant-garde electronic piece, with various widgy noises. It’s sort of darkly ambient in parts, with fun electronic beeping and otherworldly sounds. It’s generally quite a bit different than most of my other music. Basically, I was playing around in Live, and I decided I wanted to create something different, something that sounded a bit creepy and discordant, and this is the result. Overall, it’s not horribly complex, and I whipped it up fairly quickly, so it ends up being somewhat minimalist, but I think it sounds more direct as a result.

Created using Ableton Live. Drums are done using the built-in Impulse, other sounds from Green Oak Crystal, Reaktor Subharmonic, and the Beast. All midi programmed directly, no pre-fab loops.

Synth Thing

Alarm clocks and I have always had somewhat of a strained relationship. As a result, I’ve tried virtually every type of alarm clock out there that I can find, and none of them really seem to work perfectly. Analog alarm clocks have a ticking hand that drives me crazy trying to fall asleep, and while digitals are better, that grating beeping noise drives me insane. So, I try a radio alarm clock, but waking up to someone else’s idea of music isn’t very appealing (and neither is waking up to a screaming car commercial). Okay, fine then, I’ll use a CD-playing alarm clock – but what music can I use? Synth sounds are good, put trance is a bit too much for early in the morning… and anything too mellow won’t get me up. As a result, I created this – an evolving arpeggiation that starts off slow enough not to drive you crazy, but gets powerful and strident enough at the end to actually get you out of bed. Of course, as soon as I do this, I find out that my CD alarm clock is too limited to play recordable CDs… ah, well, that’s life, though.

Production Notes: All patches are done in Vanguard, including that one at the end which will definitely test the THX certification on your speakers… except for the one at the very very end, which is done using a Reaktor ensemble.

Trance Sequence

Well… after a day of listening to endless hours of mixsets, I was getting ready to head off to bed when a melody popped into my head. I quickly rushed over to the computer and banged out a horrible rendition of the melody, then went to bed. The next morning, I picked up the melody, and tried to get it to sync correctly – no dice. So, I ended up doing some editing, and what was to be a laidback melodic track turned into bass-pounding hardtrance… In any case, this project rolled to the final note after some hours, and then a couple more of additional tweaking. All in all, it was definitely an interesting project, and aside from a few program glitches, came together surprisingly quickly – my other recent “long” piece, which is being released simultaneously with this one, was done incrementally over the course of weeks.

I had planned on doing a “pro mastered version” of this, with all sorts of fascinating EQ, compression, and so on, with a powerfully EQed GPO Steinway Grand in place of the Bashar Maestro soundfont. However, once it was put into place, I realized that while the piano sounded absolutely amazing on its own, it turned the mix into a muddled wall of sound that drowned out the other instrumentation. Unfortunately, while working on resolving this and coming up with a new mix for the track, the sequencer became unstable, and eventually corrupted the project file so that I could no longer open it, as well as the automatic backup. As I have no other versions of the project file, the resulting mp3 is, regrettably, the only surviving version of this track.

This track definitely falls within the genre of trance, but it doesn’t necessarily follow all of the usual rules that you’ll hear in the mainstream – it definitely takes on a life of its own, and it definitely has the feel of a DigInt piece. That being said, it covers most of the high notes – the 1/4 note 808 kicks, the required section of slow, muted pad sounds, drum/filtersweep buildups, and a number of powerful, screaming arpeggiated leads. The peice definitely harkens back to the harder sounds for the earlier days of trance and rave music – it tires to be clean and dirty at the same time, and almost succeeds at both.

One thing to note is that I was inspired to do this track by System F’s powerful “Dance Valley Theme 2001.” It was the model that I used for tweaking Vanguard and some compressors to at least somewhat emulate that crisp, clean, articulate bass sound. The bass pattern is slightly based on that as well (okay, maybe more than slightly based… but the actual notes are quite different, and let’s face it, there are really only so many ways to do a 3-note trance bassline). DVT, however, is a much different track, and is in fact one of my favorites – it harkens back to the day where trance was much less complex, much cleaner, and much less homogenized. DVT definitely stands out as a track all on its own, and I can only hope that my music can live up to that as well. If you can track down that tune, it’s definitely worth a buy – which is why it’s a shame that it’s virtually impsosible to find in the states (I heard it in a recording of Armin van Buuren’s A State of Trance, from a webcast on ID&T Radio).

As usual, all sequencing work was done in Logic. There were a number of different things that went into this track. The piano and strings were done with the EXSP sample player – the piano is the Bashar Maestro Piano soundfont, and the strings are a string ensemble patch from Garritan Professional Orchestra (oh, and one of the basslines was from a preloaded EXSP sample). The main leads, the bassline, and the pads were done in Vanguard – many were from the Bigtone soundbank, although the second main lead was my own custom-tweaked “powercore” preset. Oh, and the weird, wobbly sound thing that comes in at some point was done in FilterScape. Finally, the drums were done with the GarageBand Drum Kits sample instrument, with the TR-808 sample set.

BTW, you can also download this track from SoundCloud.

Matrix Hit

After the One Silver Bell prototype, Matrix Hit is my first real attempt at trying to design trance music. It stems from a number of influences, including some of the instrumentals from The Matrix (hence the name), an excellent trance piece called Open Your Eyes by Nalin & Kane, and a song by The Cynic Project that I don’t quite remember. However, that being said, this piece has a voice, and a sound, all its own.

There are a number of technological advances in this work over most of my previous pieces. This was written in a newer version of Melody Assistant, and I was able to use the built-in sound filters to enhance the violin sample to its present state. The beat structure is also set up differently, to great effect, and the percussion samples were also upgraded. Put together, Matrix Hit is by far one of the most professional-sounding pieces that I have written.