A momentary lapse in updates…

It never fails – I get 90% of the way through a project then decide to do everything differently.  T.H.I.S. 2.0 is no exception.  :)

For those who know me, this won’t come as much of a surprise… but I am constantly hampered by the fact that there is just not enough time in the day.  I am a man of hobbies – I can’t really remember the last time I sat home bored, and even if days were 50 hours long it still wouldn’t be enough time for me to work on all the things I have ideas for.

As such, I’ve found that I have far too many projects going on simultaneously.  This leads to none of them being done very well – as a case in point, T.H.I.S.  I love music.  I listen to a lot of it, I write a lot of it.  But how much of that ends up online?  Almost none.  I have a great many new songs chillin’ on my hard drive, never being listened to by anyone but me and my lovely wife.  It’s tragic.  But amidst working full-time, spending time with my wife, getting a music site transferred to a new server, setting up an all-new programming site and writing a full-length novel, I find myself stretched a wee bit thin.

I don’t mind this; in fact, I prefer it.  The main problem is that I have too much to share and no uniform, streamlined way of doing it.  So T.H.I.S. 2.0 is about to change.

T.H.I.S. is going to become a single, solitary blog for everything I work on.  It’ll combine programming, music, writing, and all my many other expertises (assumed or legitimate) into one massive, glorious site.  This will enable me to post to it regularly regardless of what genre I find myself working on at a given moment.  Posts will be more frequent because they won’t be tied into a specific area, and updating the site will be fun instead of a painful duty every X number of months.  I think the change will be positive.

Unfortunately for me, this requires the merging of several disparate sites and databases – which should merge easily in theory, but “in theory communism works.  In theory, Marge.”  (Great Simpsons episode.)  I also have to redo some site logos and overall design elements before this completes, so content updates will be placed momentarily on hold while I sort this merger out.

But fear not!  I’ve been on the web for years and I’m certainly not leaving anytime soon.  I just hope this merging of the blogs/sites is the magic update-promoting elixir I’ve been searching for…

Let me hope, anyway.

:)

Song: King of the Desert

Listen online:last.fm

Download song: mp3 Ogg FLAC MIDI

“King of the Desert” is a new endeavor for me.  In experimenting with some new guitar soundfonts, I’ve really wanted to bust out a powerful rock ‘n roll number.

This is what happened. (Note: the epic metal section kicks in around the 1:30 mark. Wait for it!)

This chord progression has been in the back of my head for awhile, but until this song I hadn’t found a good use for it.  While I like the melody and structure of “King of the Desert,” the real masterpiece is the countless subtle effects used throughout.  The strum of the guitar, the pitch fades on the high power chords, realistic harmonics on the guitar solos – this song is only possible thanks to many subtle, meticulously hand-tuned tweaks. You won’t hear a better hand-edited MIDI guitar track than this.

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"King of the Desert" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: Unknown

Download song: mp3 MIDI

If you’ve read my explanation/confession/description for “Ominosity“, you’ll know how much I dislike naming songs.  I’ve got no inspiration whatsoever for this song’s name, so it will forever exist as “Unknown”.  If you can think of a better name, let me know.

This song is a byproduct of boredom in its purest form.  Sometimes I find myself in a rut with the direction my composing is going, so I’ll force myself to sit down and arrange whatever comes out of my brain first.  I’ve always loved “Hall of the Mountain King,” so I figured I’d slaughter it by converting it into MIDI with a groovy drumbeat and strange background synth instruments.

Grieg would definitely kill me if he heard this.

No offense intended, old buddy.  Just trying to get myself out of a rut.

(Thanks for the help.)

BTW, the drums really are sweet on this one.

Creative Commons License

"Unknown" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: Reign of Anarchy

Download song: mp3 MIDI

This song is, in a word, random.  Sometimes I get a bunch of ideas in my head and I can’t think up a whole song for each one, so I throw them together into one big mess.

Like this.

Organs are a greatly underutilized instrument, in my opinion.  They’ve been around for hundreds of years and are such a critical element of hymns and spiritual music, but really they fit a whole variety of other genres.  I love what “Phantom of the Opera” did for the organ – it applied it in a modern context with the grandeur it deserves.  Organs are sweet.

Now this is not to say that I use organs appropriately in “Reign of Anarchy,” because I really don’t.  I wanted to write a really evil organ bad guy boss kind of song, but – as always – it didn’t really turn out how I’d planned it.  This song sounded way different in my head.  The opening bars are probably my favorite part of the song, and it’s kind of downhill from there.  This song is a little too unfinished for my purposes, but it’s fun so I’ve uploaded it here.  I’d appreciate any ideas regarding a future final arrangement.

Creative Commons License

"Reign of Anarchy" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: Tiberian National Anthem

Download song: mp3 MIDI

Here’s the weird thing – even though you’ve never heard this song before, I guarantee that if you listened to it without hearing the title, you’d associate it with some kind of patriotic event.  I don’t know why that is, but it’s a real phenomenon.  Music association is a fascinating tangent in the “nature vs. nurture” debate, after all…

Regardless, the ocean sound effect at the start is because Tiberia is located on the ocean (obviously).  Unfortunately, MIDI horns comprise most the song, but the mp3 version manages to hold its own.

I once had someone ask me if this song has words.  It doesn’t.  If you would like write words (so it could be a true national anthem), feel free.  ;)

Creative Commons License

"Tiberian National Anthem" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: Faith (Love Remix)

Download song: mp3 MIDI

Note: The original version of “Faith” can be found here.

I’ve played with many ideas for adding a melody to “Faith’s” original simple vi-IV-I-V (or i-VI-III-VII in natural minor) progression, but invariably none of them were epic enough to match the scope and majesty of the original arrangement.  Eventually I settled on a couple non-epic ideas worth investigating – and thus we get this “love remix”.

The key to writing a good remix is to maintain enough of the original that it sounds familiar, while also adding enough new/changed material that it’s not just a rip-off variation.  I wanted this to be a literal “re-mixing” of the original “Faith” theme and I’m pleased with how it turned out.  Nothing spectacularly technical here; just some simple arrangements of a couple simple themes.  Nothing as majestic as the original, but – then again – a sequel never is, eh?

Creative Commons License

"Faith (Love Remix)" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: The Haunting

Download song: mp3 MIDI

“The Haunting” was my first composition after a two-year composing hiatus (2003-2005).  After being away from music for so long, I wanted to start with something simple to help get back into the groove.  It felt great to sit at a piano and plink out a dark, compelling theme.  Add a few subtle panning and velocity effects, and bam – this piece turned out quite nicely.

Unlike “Halls of Despair” – which is a very in-your-face creepy song – “Haunting” is much more cunning and insidious.  I’d love to someday hear it in the background of a clever RPG horror sequence…

Creative Commons License

"The Haunting" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: A Memory Away

Listen online:last.fm

Download song: mp3 Ogg FLAC MIDI

“A Memory Away” is one of the few songs on this site that – from inspiration to composition – changed hardly at all.  After writing “Faith,” I tested various variations on that same chord progression but was unable to find anything that worked.  It wasn’t until I heard “Not Enough” by OLP (Our Lady Peace), which uses the same chord progression as “Faith” and “A Memory Away,” that I realized the kind of style I wanted to try and achieve with MIDI.  I’d never heard an intelligent pop-rock instrumentation in MIDI, so this was a bit of a gamble.  I worked off the instrument mix OLP provided and put together what I guess is really a variation on “Faith” with a strong OLP presence.  Go figure.

As soon as I heard it, I knew this would be a perfect female character theme for the lead character of Defiance, one of the story premises discussed by the video game team I was working with at the time.  The protagonist of the story was a girl named Cara, who was compared to the main character in the “Underworld” film franchise.  Cara was a strong, action-oriented girl who ended up falling in love with a man she thought she was saving.  Thus the song is a mix of electric guitar and other rock instruments but with a mellow melody.

Technically speaking, the song may not be anything outstanding – but I’m pleased that my first attempt at producing a realistic alternative-type song using nothing but MIDI instruments worked out.  The mp3 version uses a mix of soundfonts and multiple VST effects to create a nice, surprisingly realistic sound.

Creative Commons License

"A Memory Away" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: Faith

Listen online:last.fm

Download song: mp3 Ogg MIDI

Note: A “love” remix of this song can be found here.

I originally wrote this piece as the character theme of a vengeful monk…so take that into consideration when listening. :)

Technically, I don’t know where this fits musically. The main melody isn’t even a melody – it’s a simple chord progression.  The 2nd section is a 4-part harmony (correctly harmonized for the most part), and the final section is distinctly modern.  The instrument mix is all over the place but was designed to be largely “churchy” in nature (hence the organ and choir throughout).  The percussion was added as an afterthought because I felt it added some oomph to the epic sections of the song in a way only percussion can do.

Creative Commons License

"Faith" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: Defiance

Download song: mp3 Ogg MIDI

Note: a remixed version of this song is now available here.

Ah, sweet “Defiance.”  I’ve gone through hundreds of variations and modifications of this theme, but still I love the original incarnation of this piece.  Yeah, it’s repetitive; yeah, the layout is awfully simple; yeah, that’s a weird techno-ish sound in the middle of what should be a solid rock song.  But somehow it works.  I don’t know how, but this song still rocks (and I’ve heard it probably a thousand times).

Getting a solid distort guitar sound out of raw MIDI is tricky, but I think “Defiance” succeeds.  My goal for the near future is to produce an mp3 remix of this using real guitars.  I’m not sure where I got the idea for the swayed power chord that comprises the whole first half of the song; I think it most likely came from listening to too much Disturbed or Godsmack.  The 2nd half – in case you haven’t already figured it out – is a straight adaptation of the bridge in Vertical Horizon’s “We Are.”  On a random side note, Everything You Want was the first rock album I ever bought.  Weird.  Anyway, I love the riffs VH pulled out of that album, and “Defiance” borrows from them as a kind of twisted salute to a good band.

Rock on, 40-year-old dads.

Creative Commons License

"Defiance" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!