Miracle of Sound - Encore

Miracle of Sound - Encore
"Normandy" and "Dead Don't Shuffle"

MiracleOfSound | 28 Sep 2011 12:00
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Lol, you're stupid. Don't you know the distance between here and the moon is not actually infinite?

Yes, I know that. Please go play Portal 2, then learn the meaning of "first person narrative/"


It feels fitting for me that the first song I get to talk about is "Normandy," as it is the follow up to the song that really got my name out there into the gaming community ( "Commander Shepard"). It is also notable because it was by far the most difficult song I have ever put together. I lost count of how many emails I sent to Russ Pitts with "probably final mix" in the title. The version that made it to The Escapist and Gamesom's BioWare booth was Mix 27 - that's 27 times my "Normandy" got torn apart and rebuilt (26 more than the actual Normandy).

I wanted this song to have a more somber and serious tone than the aforementioned "Commander Shepard," so it was going to be sonically deeper and heavier while retaining the Jack Wall-esque programmed 80s synths. I also wanted it to start quiet as a whisper and build into something huge and powerful, which is why the big guitars only come in for the choruses and middle section. If you listen carefully you will notice that the drumbeat does not fully kick in during the first chorus, it waits until just after it. This was part of the effect of keeping the tension there, letting it build and build, drop for the second verse, then BANG! The song takes off for real in chorus number two, reaching its climax for the "We Gave Our Lives To Normandy" chant.

The Mass Effect story was very emotionally affecting to me and I wanted to try and capture that epic scale and emotional punch. Most people agreed that I managed it, especially on repeated listens to the song. It is something I usually try to avoid - a "grower." What I mean by a grower is a song that is not immediately very catchy and hooky, a song that reveals itself properly after a few listens. I usually try and make my songs as in-your-face catchy as possible, but for this one I resisted that and made something a little less obvious - something you would have to put the time into to get the most out of.

The lyrics in Verse 1 are trying to build a mood, rather than describe events, apart from the lines about the dying star which are a reference to Tali's research - something I have a feeling will prove a much bigger story part in ME3. You'll notice a long echo effect (or delay, as the pros call it) on the vocal, this is meant to imply space and distance. The rest of the song's lyrics are about the Normandy crew (both Shepard's team and the ship crew) reflecting on the events of ME1 and 2.

I just could not get this mix right for so long. There is so much going on in the song that some parts were being swamped and covered up by others. I eventually decided that as the lyrics were the most important part of the song, the vocals would take the lead, especially in the choruses. I also boosted the drums and guitars during the loud parts. Everything else was window dressing. The end result is a very big, punchy mix which I was actually quite happy with in the end.


I'm just more curious as to why he sounds North American when he sings despite being Irish.

Guilty - most singers have a talking accent and a singing accent. We grow up on American music and culture over here, plus an American accent lets you elongate vowels and pronounce words more easily as well as being generally relatable to most peoples' ears.

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