How to Pamplemousse: Music!

Today, we just blew past the 30% mark for the Dominique Pamplemousse Indiegogo campaign. It’s an oft-cited statistic that when crowdfunded projects hit 30%, they become exponentially more likely to succeed than those that don’t. 16 days left and $6576 to go!

So, now it’s time for the next installment of “How to Pamplemousse”, wherein I talk about my process for composing and recording music. When I think up the music for this game (and in general) it comes to me in somewhat of a sketch-like form — some kind of melody or riff in my head. I use that as a base to write lyrics around, and as I do so, the melody solidifies itself a bit better.

When it comes time to play and record the music, I approach it with an idea of what I want it to sound like, while also leaving room for improvised ideas. I don’t write out sheet music or chord charts, but that’s only because it’s just me playing all the instruments; if other musicians were collaborating with me, written music would be a tad more necessary.

Usually, when I record a song, I like to start with the bass line. This could be because I myself am primarily a low brass player, but I feel like bass lines are a great thing to layer everything else over, as they tend to hover around the roots of the chords. Here’s an audio example:

Just the bass line!

I played that on my euphonium, which is essentially a small tuba, and looks like this:

After the bass line, I then layer on top of it with offbeat chords, also on the euphonium, to create a bit of an old-timey “oom-pah” sound:

Bass line with offbeats!

Next up, I add a bit of accents in the high range. I went for a high-pitched “wah-wah” sound for that, here:


I played that on my cornet, using a harmon mute. Mutes are fun!

After that, I add a little bit of percussion. So far, I’ve been using a click track to keep time, but that’s not going to be in the final recording, meaning I have to make my own noises to keep a beat going:


I used a hollow cardboard tube and some spoons, which made a clicky sound — sometimes, in the absence of actual percussion instruments, random household objects will have to suffice!

Now, I’ve got a nice loop to play in the background between singing parts. But that gets a bit boring to listen to on its own, so I like to add an instrumental solo for a little variety. Again, with the muted cornet:


Finally, we get to the sections with singing. The instruments are layered on as before, and I sing over top of them:

Sing, sing, sing!

And there you have it: all the parts necessary for a Pamplemousse song. Listen to it in action in the playable Flash demo!

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