‘The Final Frontier’

an exercise in sound design using the Alchemy synth

Play The Final Frontier on YouTube

The purpose of The Final Frontier is that of an exercise in sound design using the Alchemy synth in Apple’s Logic pro X. This very deep synth was presented free in later versions of Logic and it, alone, is worth the bargain price charged for the entire program.

Alchemy’s ‘advanced’ tab window.

I had been aware for some time that my knowledge of Alchemy needed to be improved and this exercise seemed to be a fun way of achieving this.

A simple scenario was envisaged for the project. The opening strings set the atmosphere. They morph through two other soundscapes before leading into the sounds of the starship, with the background buzz of conversation (a free WAV file off the internet). The atonal line is one of Schoenberg’s 12 tone rows presented in all four geometric positions –  original retrograde, inverted and retrograde/inverted. The sweeping effect is caused by the Flanger plug-in.

You will hear the warp engines kick in (another free WAV file) followed by a musical portrait of outer space.

The long uneventful passage is there to suggest cryogenic sleep (which probably wouldn’t be needed with *warp engines).

The starship drops out of warp – I used the original warp drive WAV file and reversed it, stretching it with the option key – and a party of crew members transports down to the planet. I spent some time trying to emulate the transporter sound from Star Trek. I never quite succeeded but my version works almost as well so I pressed on with the rest of the journey.

The crew experiences the strange vegetation and approaches a ruined city. They hear the sounds of manufacturing and find a long-abandoned factory still manned by automatons doing what they were programmed to do.

The crew are transported back on board and that is that, basically.

You will need good speakers. A phone is no good. Although we try to make our stuff work on all platforms, it isn’t that simple.

Using synths in this way often creates unexpected artefacts that are impossible to predict accurately. Not even Fourier himself would be able to do that, although he would have been amazed and delighted to see the software and hardware we all take for granted now.

Click here for more of my music

You will find a wide variety of music in many styles, some intended for stock hire use and submitted to major distributors.

* The concept of warp engines is based on the The Bias Drive theory, one of a number of speculative field-drive propulsion systems being studied.


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