Sierra Music Central

Happy 13th anniversary to SMC!

Hey folks,

Well, technically it was yesterday, but I was starting a new job, so I was too tired to come on and post. Actually, I'm still exhausted, so I'll probably add more to this on Saturday. I just wanted to let everyone know that things are moving along. Although I was unemployed for longer than I wanted to be, I didn't have to sell much equipment, and most importantly not the Roland Integra-7, which will make for exciting listening for many of you soon, I hope.

I will try to post some rough solo samples of the Integra's quality later this week, to give an idea of what it can sound like. Of course, it will be Sierra based. :)
On the Integra, I have got roughly 50% through listening to the stock samples (which it has ~6000 of). Once I have listened to them all, and categorized them, I will be working on the SMC Sierra Music project I started back in late 2014. It will be finished, and will be SMC's next released project, I want to show off the Integra. No dates yet for obvious reasons. ;)

So, my regards, and thanks for helping me be here for 13 years. Special thanks to Bountice (Stephane), SMC's current webmaster, web hoster and co-forum administrator. He has helped me keep the website going, as (unfortunately) pretty much the only surviving Sierra music website. Without him I would just be a guy posting occasional MP3's on people's websites/Facebook, and probably do most recording for myself. Please thank him if you appreciate this :)
I will try to keep my end of the bargain up and ensure there's some new content this year, which I have discussed previously.

Thanks for helping keep the music alive!
- Alistair and Stephane

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Latest news

Hey Sierra music fans,

I apologize for such a long time been updates. I have had a lot of bumps in the proverbial road, with studio integration issues (see below). Every time I think I have hit a winning combination of new synths to go with my old ones, there's some snag. But there's some good news, which I'm finally ready to share with you all. But first..

1. QuestStudios closure
I start this update off with a heavy heart. Sadly, after nearly 20 years of operation, QuestStudios was taken down by Tom Lewandowski in May.
This saddens me to the core, QuestStudios was the inspiration for me (and at the time, Brandon Blume aka MusicallyInspired) to begin this website.
Thanks for being a friend and a helper in the later years, after the earlier years where I was impetuous and rude.

Anyway, vale Tom L. You did an amazing job. I'm very sorry to hear there won't be anything new (although I will continue to live in hope), but I appreciate all you have done for us as a Sierra community. Not sure what your best work was, there was too many choices. Your King's Quest II+ score was a standout as for your original compositions, however. Really improved on what was already a good game.

SMC's current project (see below, update #3) will be in part, and involve a tribute to the great Tom.

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome any QuestStudios forumgoers who used the forum to discuss Sierra music, Sierra and other retro computing, old soundcards, and so on.

Back to SMC:
2. More changes to SMC's studio
I have made a major change to my studio in 2015. I know no music has been released since 2009, so what is the point, but there is a point I promise you. I have had a lot of false starts with SMC and expanding my synthesizer collection. I have invested in the wrong synths, too many synths, synths which sound great but don't work with computer MIDI well, and so on. BUST, right? Well, yes, until recently.

I recently sold my Roland Fantom XR, which I loved dearly and was ready to start recording with, but had a critical problem integrating into my setup. So I took some inspiration from shad0wfax, the guy who had the Fantom XR recordings on QuestStudios, bringing new life into the old tracks. He sold his XR for a Roland Integra-7, the top of the line Roland synth module back in 2012 (and still is now). It has around 6,000 sounds. Pretty crazy stuff.
Like the idea of the XR before it, I dismissed it as a pipe dream that would never happen. But when you invest a small amount of money many times, you start to have some investment. The XR with 5 expansions I had for it was worth more than an Integra! One day I actually realised this and thought- I guess I could see if works better for me.

So, I sold on eBay for a month, hoping to unload everything. Sold all but one part of my surplus synths. Got an Integra on a deal. IT'S AMAZING!! You folks will love it, I promise..
The main purpose is the SuperNATURAL side, which closely mimics acoustic instruments, according to Roland, anyway. Bottom line is it sounds incredible, and the realism is light years ahead of anything I've heard from Roland, or anyone else. And I've had and listened to a lot of synths extensively.
(For those interested: It also has a Roland XV-5080 onboard, and all the SRX expansions. AWESOME..)

It also overcomes the issues the XR had with my setup. So SMC is back in business with a real purpose.

Currently other than editing music for SMC's current project(see below), I'm working on categorizing the Integra's sounds, so when I'm working on MIDI's, I'm not just trawling through thousands of sounds, which would make it useless. Incidentally, if anyone wants to buy me an iPad to use the app with it, I would be eternally grateful ;)

Music:
3. Work on the new 'SMC Volumes' project continues
SPOILER ALERT:
Well, the main news is that there's no news just yet. ;)

But seriously, I'm going to do something different here: Build on a previous announcement. Yes, I've continued a project I started. Don't all keel over in shock, now- then you won't hear the music ;)

It is a continuation of the "SMC Sierra Music Volumes" series (itself a tribute to QuestStudios' "Sierra Soundtracks" series), of which there have been several worked on but only the first released. There will be at least one more legacy one released prior to the new one, also. And yes, it (the legacy one) is finished.
 
Anyway. Work on the new SMC Volume is going along well. It began in November last year, and since then, I have an almost completed tracklist, totalling around 40 tracks, with only a

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Belated Happy 12th Anniversary for SMC, and some news

Hi everybody,

Not too big a fanfare concerning this update, as in the past I have overpromised and underdelivered, so I am trying to reverse that trend.

1. The anniversary, and zero post forum member deletion
The main reason I am posting, other than to celebrate the 12th anniversary of this website (Go SMC!), is to mention that I culled zero post members of the website forums today. Now, I know the forums aren't exactly a hive of activity, but I try to keep them neat and nice. So anyone with a post count of zero has been removed, including some recent spambot members.
If any of the members were 'real' members and you want an account where you read but don't post, please email me or PM me and let me know of your intentions, I don't want to exclude anybody who is interested but doesn't want to post.

2. New news, concerning SMC "Volumes" series
To give just a tidbit of news: I released back in 2003 the compilation SMC Sierra Music Volume One, a bit of a copy of QuestStudios' "Sierra Soundtracks Volume" series, but with my own take on the idea a little.

Shortly thereafter, especially in SMC's second phase of recording of which little was released, 2004-05, I recorded a number of tracks for future expansions of this concept. As most SMC visitors will be aware of, most recordings SMC has worked on in general since 2005 have not been released to the public, as a result of unfinished projects mostly, but some other factors also.
Over the years, I've not really revisited the concept a lot, but I have been working on putting together some old recordings from those eras as future "SMC Volumes". In particular I have one ready to go, when time allows for the update.

As far as new recordings of this series, more recently, with my overhaul of my music equipment I'm using, with really updated sound palettes and a very strong sound, I've been torn with what projects to work on and I thought, "Why not work on a bit of everything?". Thus, this project idea was rekindled in a new era of SMC.

Hopefully I will have more news at some point shortly, but we will leave it that for now. If you have any questions or comments, or lord forbid, requests for current or future iterations of this series, feel free to do so!

3. Miscellaneous news
In non-digital-soundtrack news, I've been working on some MIDI soundtracks this year, some for soundtracks that never made it, some for some that haven't made it yet. The Police Quest 1 VGA MIDI soundtrack is completed, and I converted it to General MIDI also. Some of you might remember that while PQ1VGA has a "General MIDI" option in the game, the music is remapped from the MT-32, sometimes resulting in incomplete/incorrect playback of the tracks. This conversion seems to resolve those issues.
You can find the result of the MT-32 soundtrack recording here:
http://www.sierramusiccentral.com/assorted/PQ1.zip *
* Since this is intended as an internal MIDI soundtrack, the MIDI files are not all ready for home playback. Some end abruptly, hinting that on the digital soundtrack they will be faded out, for example.

I've also been working on the King's Quest 5 and Conquests of Camelot MIDI scores, and intend on converting them to General MIDI, or close to, also. More news as comes to hand.

4. Surprise soundtrack release for the hard readers
Since you read this far, you probably figured out every time I update, I try and sneak a soundtrack release in there. Well, you won't be disappointed.

This year I tried to work on PQ1VGA and make a new soundtrack version with my new equipment. New soundtrack you ask? Well, like several scores I've worked on over the years, I've actually recorded the PQ1VGA soundtrack twice before. Once in 2005, and again in 2009.

Earlier this year, around June, I remastered the 2009 sessions and tonight I updated the track sheet with current information (it had a combination of 05 and 09 information). Since the PQ1VGA project is currently on hold again, tonight I am releasing the 2009 soundtrack for the public. You can find it here:
http://www.sierramusiccentral.com/assorted/PQ12009.zip


Anyway, that's more than enough from me! Thanks to everyone who's been a part of SMC, past, present and hopefully the future! Happy 12 years of music and hopefully we can put more out there as time goes on.

Regards, and thanks for keeping the music alive,
- Alistair

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Happy Valentine's from SMC- Part One

(NOTE: Part Two continues directly on from Part One.)

Hey folks,

Happy Valentine's Day weekend! Hope you all enjoyed it out there.

The last 18 months have been a challenge for me in terms of keeping up with SMC, but despite the lack of frontpage action, and deadlines (as usual) being missed, the wheels are still turning here.

Since I have a tendency to post in a.. verbose style, I am including topic headers for those who want to skip to the part they're most interested in:
1 - Upgrade to SMC Studios
2 - Where's Alistair been?!?
3 - What's been cooking in SMC's musical pot?
4 - A gift from SMC (SEE PART TWO)
5 - A last gift from SMC (SEE PART TWO)

1 - Upgrade to SMC Studios
First off, I have had a major change to SMC's studio- I got a Roland Fantom XR module for Christmas, with the Studio and Orchestra expansions, which in plain English is 2000 patches/instruments, and about 500 of those are immediately obviously high quality and useful for Sierra soundtrack recording, especially the guitars, basses, saxes and orchestral instruments. The pianos are so good, I don't even want to spoil that yet..
One significant thing about the Fantom XR is that you can have up to 3 patches "auto enhanced", by allowing them to have the effects (MFX) that Roland recommends bussed straight through. This is a heaven sent thing for guitar patches especially, which usually are the hardest thing to get to sound "non-MIDI", and effects are for example, very realistic distortion. There are other instruments that benefit from their respective MFX as well, though..

Since I had about 10 MIDI sources, I scaled back by selling the Proteus FX and the Orchestral 2 expansion from my Proteus 2000, which is a great module with the default sounds- if you have the money, grab one!

At some point I will probably trade the Yamaha MU2000 for a Motif XS, if you have a Motif rack (XS or ES) you want to get rid of, you're always welcome to contact me.

Most of the time since I came back from Australia (Jan 2013) has been organising my new look studio, and learning about it to the point of being able to record music again. I've had 3 new incarnations of SMC since that time, so expect a different sound on any new recordings!

2 - Where's Alistair been?!?
Without wanting to post my life story here, the short version is that I have had a lot of health issues over the last few months, and a lack of finality and closure to it, until a couple nights ago, where I was diagnosed with mono (glandular fever). Yes, it's unfortunate, but I'm not going to have any long-term effects from it, so I'm just relieved to get a diagnosis. You can read the longer version at my Facebook page.

3 - What's been cooking in SMC's musical pot?
SQ4
Well, my primary goal, once I'm able to hear properly again, and everything else being equal, is to finish Space Quest 4, which was mostly completed as of September 2012, and should have been released at that time. One positive is that with the new sounds, although I was confident it was an improvement overall on the QuestStudios' SQ4CD already, it will give it a 'different' sound, rather than hearing a lot of the same basses, drums, orchestral and synth sounds that the soundtrack uses (although you'll still hear the MT-32!).
For those who have not heard it, the beta CD recorded at that time can be heard here.

Other projects
The short answer to the header's question, is a lot of things. Many ideas have been floating around over the past year and a half, and there's a lot of potential there. One project that I can say is a non-Sierra CD featuring music from Accolade's Les Manley games. Yes, I know the games are a pale comparison of the LSL series, but they are still fun (well, sometimes) and more importantly, the second game features a soundtrack predominantly handled by none other than Ken Allen, legendary Sierra composer. And who knows, other than that, there may be another Ken project we're featuring soon, too..


Continued in Part Two..

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Happy Valentine's from SMC- Part Two

(Continued from Part One)

4 - A gift from SMC
Well, it wouldn't be Valentine's without me giving you folks some chocolate or candy, so here we go. I was inspired by some long-time Sierra music fans, and administrators on the QuestStudios forums, Marten and Caliburn, to post some of the Sierra digital soundtracks I've so far hoarded over the years, since I haven't had the time or inclination to doctor them up for a suitable public release. Since who knows when that could be, I agree, it is time to share some goodies with the public.

First off, Sierra Soundtrack Collection Volume II. Yes, for those who didn't know, there was to be a SSCV2, following the reasonably successful first incarnation. Unlike the first CD, this one featured music from Sierra's digital age, and no MIDI. Mark Seibert sent me this when we were having regular discussions back around 2007, and it got me into tracking down a lot of Sierra's digital-era composers, which I did, and yielded both of the next results.
DISCLAIMER and REQUEST: There is a fault with Mark's digital copy and his physical CD, so some tracks have faults in them, gaps in the audio data. I have been repairing them over the years, but some are tough to do. If you have the knowhow or the inclination, contact me and I will send you the master copies of the WAV files.

Secondly, RAMA. After talking to Mark about this CD one day, I got inspired to track down Charles "Chuck" Barth, who had composed this soundtrack. There are a few of these pieces on the SSCV2 CD, and they sound amazing in stereo quality! I found him after days of searching and calling people (I don't know how I had the guts to do it), and we chatted on the phone and via email for a while, and it was a lot of fun. He was at the time doing a lot of work for Pixar, 5.1 stuff for DVD/Blu-Ray (and plenty more, I think he was working 10 projects at the time!!).
He sent me a digital copy of his master files, and this is the result of that.
Chuck Barth on the project: "..the project was a true pleasure to write.  It was almost all done very late at night in between other music projects.  Definitely late night headphone stuff on my end. It was a very fruitful time and I was working on multiple projects at the same time.  I was playing and recording as a guitarist in a very innovative acoustic based band as well as playing drums and percussion for an A&M artist named Wendy MaHarry.  I also worked for a number of other CD-ROM companies which became big in LA.  However most burned out quickly as they werenít really comprised of gaming people.  Just Hollywood types along for the ride and money."

DISCLAIMER:
Some tracks are quiet, and some clip pretty badly. This will be remastered at some point.

There is also a couple of missing tracks: The cinematics with Arthur C. Clarke, and the Human Area with guitar overdub.
To quote Chuck on the guitar piece: "I believe that the guitar overdubs were done at Dynamix or in a studio in Eugene Oregon under the supervision of one of the producers, Mark Hood.  I remember it was nice but I donít have a copy in my archives unfortunately. The guitar would have been in his archives as the game was produced. I may have access to him through a friend.  Iíll see if I can reach him.  Itís a long shot but Iíll try."
He didn't have it, but the guitarist was Neal Grandstaff, a man who i've been in contact with recently, and he may have it. I will let you know.
Also Chuck on the Intro piece: "I wrote that for a Lockheed YF-22 promotion.  The producer of that Lockheed project is a very good friend of mine was deeply involved on this project and may have provided Dynamix with that piece of music to use.  However I may have provided that as part of a music package and not remembered."
As far as I know nobody has the piece, although people's archives can be deep..

Thirdly, some assorted Gabriel Knght 3 themes.
Around that time in 2007, I got in touch with David Henry, Sierra composer in the mid-late 90's, who at the time I contacted him worked at Microsoft. One of the nicest ex-Sierra composers I've had the pleasure of speaking with, although the vast majority are like that mostly.

He looked through his archives a lot, he also worked on Betrayal in Antara and Torin's Passage, which had good scores also. However at that time, David considers them lost. However, he had some GK3 files to share.
From David in 2007: "Iíd be ha

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