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Topic: Getting a 1950s Film Noir sound -

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  1. #1

    Getting a 1950s Film Noir sound -

    Hey all,

    I'm scoring a film that needs a film noir kinda sound during some scenes, like black and white 1950s detective/mystery movies. Here's what I have so far, using Isotope Vinyl and MDA Degrade:

    http://www.rogetmusic.com/temp/dax_hunter-1950.mp3

    (full quality version - http://www.rogetmusic.com/temp/dax_hunter-2005.mp3)

    Think this works? Any other techniques I could try? Thanks!
    Wilbert Roget, II
    Composer
    Rogetmusic.com

  2. #2

    Re: Getting a 1950s Film Noir sound -

    Forgot to mention what libraries I used - Pretty much it's all VSL opus-1, except for the brasses and percussion. I'm brand new to the forums so I'm not 100% sure why, but it seems like for some reason I'm not allowed to mention that particular library anymore? Well, it's the silver edition of it.

    VSL was much more useful in this case anyways, I ended up using the trumpet perf-legato for the solo and the portamento violins to get that overbearingly romantic 1950s MGM orchestra sound. MDA Degrade provided general degradation, and Isotope Vinyl gave me the record noise and pitch warping.
    Wilbert Roget, II
    Composer
    Rogetmusic.com

  3. #3
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    Re: Getting a 1950s Film Noir sound -

    No problems there Wilbert - that's excellent and I think you captured the genre very well. I'm not 100% certain why you have covered the first version in all that noise - presumably there is a good reason.

    The Philip Marlowe series is always a good indication of this form.

  4. #4
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    Re: Getting a 1950s Film Noir sound -

    Quote Originally Posted by Sharmy
    Even though VSL solo trumpet is quite good, it does not have the brassiness assocciated with the jazz influence this kind of cue calls for.
    Real anything actually.

    C Trumpet as opposed to Bb. May make a difference Craig/Wilbert.

  5. #5

    Re: Getting a 1950s Film Noir sound -

    Will - as a huge fan of noir film, you've hit it the mark! Very nice. Maybe some vibraphone chords behind the trumpet solo would help complete the package...but that's my ear 'talking'!

    I love the EQing and coloration/saturation on the 'affected' version, but I agree the 'scratchiness' may be a bit heavy. Its interesting how a 'low-fi' effect can mask some of the imperfections of these great sample libs and make them sound damn close to what you hear on an old movie soundtrack!

  6. #6

    Re: Getting a 1950s Film Noir sound -

    And another thing - in keeing with this style of cue - the inital 'hit' in the low strings and timpani (and trb.?) should be dramatic as all get-out. In fact, overdoing the dynamic contrasts would help shoot the musical effect through the 'low fi' barrier...

    Again - love the cue...one of the nicest I've heard on here when approaching a specific style!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Getting a 1950s Film Noir sound -

    I'd put a trumpet player on the cue. I don't think you really want to put a sample out front as a solo like that. It shoots all your other good work right in the foot just a bit, because the rest of the cue is lovely. Getting a great player to really sell that solo line would be the icing on the cake. It's really tough to have a sample play the hero part.

    If getting someone in is just a completely impossible situation (all the trumpet players in Philadelphia may have died?), you might be able to help the trumpet part a bit more. I buy the stylistic content, and the first five notes go well. It's the repeat of the phrase, right up to the last three notes, that don't sell. Personally, I don't think it's a factor of the C Trumpet, or of brassiness. I wouldn't be inclined to play that line with a brassy sound. The basic sound is working. What I'm hearing is a certain lack of expressiveness in the phrase itself that has 100% to do with airflow and just the shape of the phrase, which may or may not be a fixable thing. I know how it goes editing those kinds of things, and you can put in some serious time on a little line like that, and still not get there. You might also try drawing some expression controllers to massage that second repeat of the phrase.

    I think I concur about the overall scratchiness, too. Maybe just 10 percent less messed up would be nice. But then again, it's hard to judge out of context. If the picture is similarly degraded, then maybe it's cool. If the picture is not degraded, then maybe a little more fidelity wouldn't be a bad thing. The writing itself is in the pocket, so people are definitely going to go there with you.

  8. #8

    Re: Getting a 1950s Film Noir sound -

    Wilbert,

    I love it! I really love this genre of music. Does anybody out there know of any books on the subject of film noire music. Not so much the background and history but more about the types of instrumentation and chords/scales etc.

    One again very well done!

    All the very best,

    Darren

  9. #9
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    Re: Getting a 1950s Film Noir sound -

    Just had a thought - is the scratchy version meant to be coming out of a radio or a cinema - or something like that?

    I've never heard a say RKO filmscore from the 40's or early 50's sound like that to be honest.

  10. #10

    Re: Getting a 1950s Film Noir sound -

    Darren:

    Watch film noir!

    Bruce brings up a great point...this cue would sing beautifully with a live trumpet in the mix, esp. since it is so 'upfront' and critical. I know a ton of great Philly trumpet players...but then again you probably know plenty of them too and I don't know your demands/budget.

    These libraries are great for mockups and section work in certain styles, and work great for full arrangements in lots of situations, but if you have a solo inst. in a style-specific genre like this that the cue hinges on, go with the breath and spit of a great trumpet player (or whatever inst.) if at all possible.

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