Multitimbral Mondays

Hi all!

If you’ve seen any of my recent posts over on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram then you’ll have probably noticed me babbling on about #multitimbralMondays – it’s a super-geeky challenge I’ve started this month which will hopefully expand my knowledge and diversify the way I compose music, or end up just being FUN which is more than a valid reason on its own.

I’ll be composing one multitimbral piece of music every Monday, and live-streaming the majority of its creation via my DATAStream Facebook page. It will then be uploaded on the following Wednesday and eventually (hopefully!) form a free compilation of my efforts.

I have experimented with this form of composition a couple of times before (you may remember such inspiring classics as ‘MU5’ and ‘JV80’ but hopefully writing one piece per week will allow me to flex my compositional muscles (not a thing) using slightly different thought processes and production methods. Mostly this means being limited in terms of polyphony and the use of audio processing, but I also find that challenging yourself and working in less familiar ways can help to broaden your skills and knowledge.

That brings us to (tada!!) this weeks song – which I’m glad to say that a few kind folks witnessed me composing via the live-stream on Monday evening. Luckily, one helpful viewer was on hand to give the song a name so it didn’t wind up just being called ‘D5’.

As well as this entirely coming from the D5 (minus MIDI sequencing done in Logic) I recorded the final stereo mix from the synths outputs to my Tascam 244 (mostly because I can and its fun) and then re-recorded this back into Logic for the final master. I’ll be working on another next week and if you feel like joining me drop by the DATAStream Facebook page at 7pm GMT.

Thanks for reading!


Making Noise

Hi all,

A quick post, but a rather overdue one! I’ve finally got settled in my new noise-making room so will hopefully have chance to update my blog a little more regularly (maybe). I’ve been working on projects with Massive Galaxy and Tri-Heart Interactive recently but have also started writing some music for a few other clients, not to mention some more experiments for DATAStream, which should see the light of day in the next decade or so.

Don’t forget to say hi over on Twitter or Facebook OR Instagram if that’s your thing,

I hope everyone’s 2018 has been great so far!

November Update

Hi folks!

As you may (or may have not) noticed I’ve been a little less active here on my site for a month or so. Whilst I’ve been working on a number of projects I’m also in the process of moving, and anyone who has had the pleasure of buying/selling a house will know how much work is involved! Suffice to say – I’ve not had much time for blog writing so I’m postponing any future waffling until the house move is complete and I’m all set up again.

Whilst it is super-stressful I’m very excited about the move, which will allow me to empty my storage space and move all my studio gear into one room. I’ll finally have the DX7 on hand for those moments when you just HAVE to frequency modulate.

Thanks for bearing with me and I’ll see you in 2018!*


* (interestingly ‘Rollerball’ is set in 2018 and any cult 70s / 80s cinema fans should definitely check it out to see whats in store for us next year…)

DATA Labs – Cassette Player Blueprint

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I’ve been working on DATA labs for around a year now – the level serves as a testing ground for new ideas, blueprints and personal development and it’s been lots of fun to work on!

Recently I’ve been creating audio log entries for the level, so the player can find out a little bit of backstory about the labs and what goes on there, as well as letting me indulge in some fun blueprints. The idea evolved from a simple playback system to a fully functioning cassette player, and whilst I’d like to expand it further I feel it’s probably a little beyond the scope of this project at the moment. Here’s how it works…

Essentially you can click on items to interact when them in DATA labs – clicking on the cassette player once plays the tape, again pauses it, clicking again plays from where you left off. You can leave it running or turn it off at any time or let it play until the end. Once the tape has reached the end, it will automatically shut off. A final click lets you rewind the tape and the whole system starts again. A red LED illuminates whenever the cassette is in play mode.

Cassette Blueprint
The full blueprint for the cassette player.

A lot of the ideas here are not mind blowing of course, they seem pretty simple in fact..! However, not coming from a game design or programming background means I often find that even simple tasks take up a fair amount of my dwindling brain power, so it took a number of iterations to come up with the blueprint you see below.

cassette_recorder_part A

This basically sets a number of variables in motion so that the blueprint knows what to do when you click on it – namely whether it’s playing, paused, stopped (complete) or rewinding.

cassette_recorder_part B

The next stage handles the system for play / pause functionality, which turned out to be quite a frustrating process for me! At first, my system could only handle a few play / pause run-throughs before it got confused and either started from the beginning or stopped completely! As usual, a branch node came to the rescue with an attached ‘is playing’ variable and the rest is history. It’s worth noting I’m using FMOD audio events for this blueprint, and a useful tip is the ‘On Event Stopped’ node you can use in conjunction with them – here it handles the auto-stop function of the cassette recorder.

cassette_recorder_part C

The final section of the blueprint is the sweet, easy-icing on the cake and simply toggles the red ‘active’ LED on and off in accordance with play state. Phew!

I’ll be adding some actual recordings to all the players in the level soon, so people don’t have to listen to me repeating “THIS IS A TEST” over and over again.. but it does the job for now. Any suggestions for the system would of course be appreciated and I hope this has been a useful read for folks. If you’ve got a question let me know!


A big thank you to Warren Marshall for the excellent retro-models you can see in the level – check out his Twitter for more!

Doing My Best (to boogie) – FMOD / Unreal

I realise it’s been some time since I posted here (two months truth be told!) however I’ve been keeping busy working on a couple of freelance contracts. This doesn’t mean that I’ve neglected my portfolio projects (Lake Lodge / DATA Labs / Digital Dark Age) and I’ve spent some time researching and developing my knowledge of blueprints to aid in their development in my spare time.

In particular I’ve been looking into creating custom occlusion blueprints for FMOD (which I’ll get into more depth about at a later date) and some of the ways in which FMOD integrates with Unreal in a musically interesting fashion!

As you can see the text and ‘coloured blobs’ are timed to the music, or more accurately the tempo and time signature of the attached audio event in FMOD. This can be useful for a whole range of things (rhythm games in particular) although I plan on using this feature in my DATA Labs level to add some extra interest in the basement labs.

Boogie A.PNG
Once you’ve got the tempo / time signature info from FMOD its possible to trigger lots of different actions in Unreal. This is the blueprint for my ‘boogie demo’ above.

As you can see below the FMOD component has it’s own ‘On Timeline Beat’ event which automatically outputs information about tempo, beats, bars etc and can be used to trigger anything you like really! As my boogie loop is in 4/4 I’ve used the beat output and a switch with beats 1 – 4 to toggle visibility of the coloured blobs and boogie text render.

Boogie B.PNG
The ‘On Timeline Beat’ event outputs a range of useful data.

Another useful function I’ve been playing about with lately is the ‘On Event Stopped’ event that can be called from any FMOD audio component.  The screenshot below is taken from my DATA Labs level where I’m using it to turn off a cassette player once the recording on the tape has reached it’s end. (I’ll be posting about this soon as well!)

Cassette Stop.PNG

This is really only just scratching the surface of what you can achieve when combining the functionality of FMOD and Unreal in blueprints, but I hope it highlights a couple of ideas and provides some inspiration for your own projects. If you’ve got any questions etc please feel free to drop me a message over on Twitter.

Inspired by…

Hi folks! As usual, probably a little longer than intended since the last blog post but I’ve been updating the site and various other pages across the interwebs…

This is just a brief post to let everyone know about my new ‘Inspired by’ series of compositions that I’ll be uploading as and when I can, focussing on music I’ve written thats been inspired by a particular game, film or maybe even just artwork.

First up, two pieces I wrote after playing the wonderfully crafted ‘Firewatch’ developed by Campo Santo, one of my favourite games! It’s been such a huge inspiration in my work, both in game audio and in composition. I hope you enjoy them.

Firewatch –
Campo Santo –

Futureworks Degree Show

If you’ve been following progress with ‘Digital Dark Age’ you’ll know that I’ve recently completed my degree in music production with Futureworks here in Manchester, where I’ve been studying since September last year (after doing the first two years of my course online). It’s been a pretty hectic year to be quite honest, especially when factoring in freelance projects and portfolio work into the mix, but really enjoyable nonetheless, and I’ve met some super talented folk along the way!

My little interactive audio kingdom…

Last week I showcased my digital wares at their annual degree show and it was fantastic to see a lot of the other students work on display. It can be a little insular when you’re constantly working on your own projects (not to mention being in dark studios all the time) so I took the chance to chat with folks and see what they’ve been up to!

One thing that really stood out to me was the overall quality of the work, particularly in the areas of animation, 3D art and environment design (although that being said it’s much easier to showcase this than audio / video in that kind of environment). Some of the final projects and portfolio pieces really made an impact and showed just how many creative and talented people attend Futureworks, even though they’re not always that good at blowing their own trumpets! I thought I’d drop a few links below to some of the folks I chatted to and would highly recommend checking out their work…

Bradley Mayo (3D Environment / game design)

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Ellie Durkin (Illustration / Animation)

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Sean Lewis (Sound Design)

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Lisa Lau (Illustration / Animation)

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Amy Collins (Composer)

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