Portal is a first-person puzzle game. Players must solve physical challenges by opening portals to maneuver objects, and themselves, through the enigmatic Aperture Science Laboratories.

Post feature Report article RSS Feed In depth with the Portal: Awakening OST - Part 2

Second part of a track by track dissection of the influences and techniques which went into the making of the Portal:Awakening OST

Posted by newnowmusic on Feb 12th, 2011

This feature follows on from the first three discussed tracks from the upcoming portal mod 'Portal: Awakening' in development here;

The First part of this feature can be found here;

4. Non-vital personelle

This track is one of the first to undermine the idea that I wanted to leave traditional rhythm behind. Like all good music (and most other things in life) diversity is the key, giving the developers varying styles and paces in the tracks will alllow them to use the music properly; as an underpinning source of emotion and drive.
This is one of those slow build to fat paced tracks, I had wanted to keep the ambience that had gone before and felt it very importanat to let the music impose itself over any action that might be happening gameplay wise but I also wanted to build something with pace and urgency.
There's a great free (as most of my effects and kit are) vst on the net called Crystal which allows for a lot of knob tweaking and also plenty of automation.
This provided the synth-drum element that keeps the track moving. Adding a very hi-pinched drum beat also differenciated the track from the other more ambient stuff.
Couple that with the great echo sample which I've had for a while and used on various projects and used a really low end cello to get the siren-distorted bass melody.

5. Anomalous variance

After hearing the beautiful 800% slowed down version of Jonathan Coultan's 'Still alive'
(See below)

I loved how any song becomes a slow ambient drone when taken to extremes like this. I wanted to give it a try and thought (with more than half a mind on laziness I confess) 'I wonder what I can do with one of my own tracks'.
I went digging through my back catalogue and found a track from a set of fairly ambient tracks I produced mostly as emperiments and unfinished songs called 'Variables'.
After trying some extreme timestreching using Audacity I found that things weren't turning out as I hoped; I only seemed to achieve really clipped choppy long winded versions of my track.
I went back to the source and found that the 'Still alive' version was slowed down using an add-on called Paulstretch.
After a bit of tweaking and cutting down (Variable #5 came out at over 30mins long after the stetch) I got a good chuck of 3-4 minutes that I wanted added some reverb to reduce any clicking and cuttoffs and added some high pass filter to cut out the low rumble and 'Anomalous variance' was born as a slow building ambient warble.

6. Diversity furnace

When I first thought of making music for Portal I didn't really have a project to work on until I shipped a couple of samples around to development studios and the Portal: Awakening guys took me on.
So I had a bank of samples and sounds that I knew would work but no really home for them, this track houses most of those early samples, especially the long low swelling bass synth.
That was made up with Computer Muzys CM-101 Bass synth. (I'd normally host a link but Muzys has been discontinued, if you want any info. please PM me) I let it run with the the higher tremelo synth over the top and sat in front of the keyboard hammering out dozens of light melody lines until one finally stuck.
It's realy easy as a musiciana to stick to a numbers game; 4/4 time signatures, melodys running at 4, 8 or 16 bars in length, but the most interesting things come from when you decide to tell yourself 'No'.
The long high notes that provide a psudeo-bassline are at a count of something like a batch of 6 bars then a batch of 5 just so that their melodys are never anticipated.
Once I had the correct melody lines it was simply a case of arranging the track and tweaking any transitions.

Please feel free to ask any additional questions in the comments section below and be sure to check out Part 1
Part 3 coming soon...

Post comment Comments
saivert May 4 2011 says:

I like it!

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