The Song of the Blue Tree: Soundtrack

This soundtrack was commissioned (…by my beloved sister…) earlier this year as a piece of music to accompany a dance act which was a part of a street performance called “The Blue Tree”. The performance was based on the picture book “Story of the Blue Tree” (of which my sister was the illustrator - so, in short, family business). And it is all about the Blue Tree - a sculpture by Vasko Lipovac.

Made with Ardour, on Debian 11, flute (well, alto recorder) and bassoons are real instruments, trumpets, horns, guitar, strings, bass are ACE fluid synth, synths and synth bass are ZynFusion and Calf Monosynth, harp Pianoteq6, and drums are Black Pearl drumkit. Other plugins: ACE compressor, ACE Hi/Lo filter, Adriaensen’s 4-band parametric filter, zita reverb, Szilagy’s IR and tube warmth and x42 mono and stereo limiter.

I hope you like it!

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Hi Great job! The middle section took me by surprise, very cool!

After listening to this, I continued exploring your soundcloud account. You have some great woodwind recordings. Can you share any more about your recording/mixing process? I’m curious what kind of mic you use, how far you prefer the instrument from the mic, and what kind of processing you do. I’m learning how to record clarinet with an idea of a jazz fusion song that I want to produce.

Thank you!
I am a bassoonist and I when I play concerts with my ensemble I always record the event.
When I record a live concert in a concert hall I always use a stereo pair of mics - mostly for practical reasons: there is a lot of stuff to carry, the bassoon, music stand, suit, shoes… so I carry as little recording gear as possible: two mics, mic stand, a stereo cable (multicore, 2ch), and a recording device. I experimented a lot with this, I even used raspberry pi with USB audio interface for some time, but now I have the Sound Devices MixPre 6 - it is a Godsent device.
Whenever I can I use a pair of spaced omnis (Rodes nt5 with omni capsules) spaced 45 cm, and lifted cca 3m above the stage. Exact position depends on the acoustics. If the hall is too reverberant (like old churches) I use pair of Line audio CM3s (subcardioid) in din configuration (90°, 20 cm apart) and put them closer to the musicians (for example 2m above the stage and not too far back towards audience, 1.5-2 m).
When I record solo stuff at home, the most important thing is to control the room acoustic as much as possible. I use 4-5 mic stands , put the booms in horizontal position (“T” form) and hang all duvets and blankets I can find on those stands, making a sort of cocoon of my recording spot. As for the mics, I use Line Audio CM3 for bassoon solo stuff - at 20cm distance. When I record the bassoon for some mix I take Rode nt1-a - it is more prominent in the mix. Rode nt1-a also works well for the recorder, mandolin and classical guitar. It is a mic with its quirks - it is very sensitive and it picks a lot of unwanted noise very clearly (key klicks, breathing, etc), but it became very usable once I learned to place it properly. Line Audio CM3 is a darker microphone, which can be good or not so good (it is never bad, though), depending on what kind of sound you are after. Also mic placement can do wonders - put the earphones on and seek the sound you want. Monitoring is also very important. Last year I bought an analog mixer with built in soundcard, Soundcraft Signature 12MTK. I didn’t know what I was missing… Being able to make a good monitor mix is absolutely crucial for any serious work, and this mixer makes it so easy - It has 12 channels that I can assign directly from Ardour (that is named “USB return”) and then I make an analog mix - with analog faders, and EQ.
As for the processing, I use as little as possible. I find x42 plugins very useful, and LSP plugins are great to, if a little too complex for most od the simple tasks. For reverb I usually take zita-reverb or Tom’s IR.

I hope you’ll find some of this useful. Good luck with your project!

Thank you so much!

The middle section Is a part of the story that this soundtrack follows. It goes like this: (and it is a true story!)

The “Blue Tree” is a public sculpture of my town of birth by (very famous sculptor) Vasko Lipovac. It is imposing 5m tall structure of welded steel rods painted in blue. Trough time, citizens of this town (Split, Croatia, BTW) grew very fond of this sculpture. But one day this Blue Tree needed to be removed - because new bus stop was planed in that place, or something like that… After it was removed, citizens missed it so much that they actually protested before city council to get it back somehow. So the place was found in a nearby park where it is reinstalled and it still stands today.
This piece of music is composed for the dance performance on the event on which citizens celebrated the return of their beloved piece of art.
So this flute part represents the “Song of the Blue Tree”, and the middle part, I envisioned it like some industrial force of destruction, maybe chainsaw or excavator, with overdriven guitar repeating the head of the theme of the flute over and over again in distorted, ugly way, as if the chainsaw is mocking the tree it is about to cut down. After all the confusion, there comes the sound of trumpet - sun ray dispersing the heavy clouds, if you will, signing the return of the Tree.
So the music is following the plot.

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I love the orchestral parts. For me the central rock section needs at least a human guitarist and a similar feeling in the drums in order to balance out the orchestral sections.

I couldn’t agree more, however at that moment I couldn’t afford session musicians, and the music, the way it is, served its purpose well on the lousy outdoor PA.
There were some initiatives to transfer the play to a real theater in which case I would be payed for it and I would certainly redo some parts. In case of the “financial boost” I would first pay for a drummer and a guitarist, then a french horn and a trumpet player (samples sound dull and uninspiring, barely passable)…some 400€, I guess…