Last weekend saw the final studio day for the Zen Balls soundtrack. It was a long and exhausting day – I tracked three instruments over seven compositions, but I have now officially completed all the actual recordings for the soundtrack! In addition to the hulusi I mentioned in a previous post, I recorded a dizi (a Chinese bamboo flute) as well as a regular western flute. These will all be playing along with the cello we recorded in a prior session and other digital accompaniment. I can’t wait to share it, but I will only do so when it’s ready, so now it’s time to start mixing!
I’m very happy to announce that I just finished an awesome recording session with my friend Grace Harvey for the Zen Balls soundtrack. We now have live cello for every composition in the game! Sometime soon I will also be recording flute, dizi, and the hulusi I mentioned in a previous post to complete the live instrument components of the music. I will post audio clips at some point in the near future, but for now I can at least say that the music is really starting to sound good. I look forward to sharing more once it’s closer to being finished.
It looks like I’m going to actually play some instruments for this soundtrack. Mel’s son brought him a hulusi from China a little while ago, and I knew I’d have to use it for something eventually. Once Zen Balls became my new project, it was obvious from the start that I would have to use it.
The hulusi is an interesting instrument. It is a “gourd flute” that produces a sound very similar to a oboe or bagpipe. It also has an optional drone note, which adds to its similarity to the bagpipe. It has a very small range and only includes six notes from a particular key signature; in the case of this hulusi, it can play F, G, A, Bb, C, and D from F4 to G5.
The note limitation might sound impossibly restrictive at first, but I have found that it actually helps keep compositions focused and aesthetically consistent with each other. Consequently, my workflow for this soundtrack is essentially decided for me: compose for the hulusi, compose accompaniment digitally, then record and mix. As is often the case with creative work, limitations can actually make things easier by simply eliminating the need to make a large number of decisions, and composing for the hulusi is certainly no exception.