Big Soundtrack In Little China

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Micke
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Big Soundtrack In Little China

Post by Micke » Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:26 pm

Hi guys,

Thought I'd write some lines about one of my favorite soundtracks by John Carpenter & Alan Howarth; namely 1986's Big Trouble In Little China.


Image
Alan Howarth photographed at his home studio, late 1985.

Equipment used in the making of BIG Trouble:
Prophet-5 & Prophet-10 w/ Poly sequencers
E-mu Emulator I & II w/CD ROM
ARP Avatar (x2) and Arp Sequencer
Linn LM-1 , LM-2 & E-mu SP-12 (this combination was treated as one gigantic drum machine.
Kurzweil K250 w/user sampling
Prophet 2002
Prophet VS-2400 Vector Synth
Oberheim 4 voice w/Midi (mostly used as a bass unit)

Music recorded Feb to mid-May 1986 at Electric Melody studios in Glendale, California. Synthesizer Programming by Alan Howarth.

The Kurzweil K250 and Emulator II served as the main keyboard controllers with a Macintosh plus computer tied to each unit. The sequencer in the EII was used for the most part because of Howarth's unfamiliarity with the Mark Of The Unicornperformer and composer software.

Interesting insider info and quotes from Alan Howarth on the making of BTILC:

Howarth was able to trade Sequential some of his own own programs for use of a prototypeProphet VS, which he used for a lot of the "Chinese" sounds. "I'm not a real DX-7 fan," he explains. " I never warmed up to it, and along came the VS. It gave me some pretty neat sounds. The digital waveforms were nice and bright, and they gave me all the Clavinet and Rhodes things, and I could still deal with it in an analog fashion, which is what I'm most familiar with. We got a lot of great sounds out of it."

"I did use a few oriental samples, like a Koto. It turned out that the Kurzweil mandolin sounded pretty Chinese. A Kurzweil harp in combination with an Emulator Koto made a nice Oriental instrument. The Koto was enough to give it flavor, and the koto was more in-tune. I did use some tablas--even though they aren't Chinese, they sound Asian
enough to give it the flavor."


"BIG Trouble was our first MIDI score. We had a MOTU Performer running on a MAC Plus. This let us get every sampler and analoge synth the stack on every track. That's why this score was a new sound. The VS was a new instrment as well as the K 250. The samples in the K250 that we liked were the horns and strings and piano. The Emulator 2 was also a key player because I was close to the Emu people and I got a lot of cool samples as well as I programed many of my own stuff for the E2. "

"the Oberheim (4-voice) is in the White Tiger cue in BIG Trouble. It's also stacked in the main sequence in the big fight scene at the end. The 4-voice was mostly used as a bass unit."

Hope you enjoyed the reading

Micke
"The (Yamaha) CS-80 is a step ahead in keyboard control, and a generation behind in digital control" -- Dan Wyman, Jan 1979

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Post by Bitexion » Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:42 pm

That studio just looks obscene. I'd have to lock myself in the bathroom and j**k off to release the pressure if I entered that synth haven, I think.

He looks kind of "mad scientist"-ish too, very fitting for being surrounded by hi-tech gear :) Look at the walls in that studio! Lego! Gotta love his soundtracks. I wonder if you can buy this soundtrack..don't have the movie anymore.

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Post by WDW » Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:01 pm

Gosh, it's been years since I saw the movie, but I recall loving the soundtrack. I'll have to get a copy.

Thanks for the (as always) fantastic info, Micke!

WD

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Post by PolarAC » Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:05 pm

I have seen this soundtrack while on my vinyl collecting ventures. I'll have to pick it up next time I see it.

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Post by megawatt » Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:28 pm

WOW thanks for the info! Great post. I've been going through all my Capenter films over the last ffew weeks and watched this a few nights ago!
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Post by stalla » Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:39 pm

Bitexion wrote:I'd have to lock myself in the bathroom and j**k off to release the pressure if I entered that synth haven, I think.
you're so sensible Bitexion ! :lol:

Carpenter is a great director. I had the pleasure to meet him in L.A for an interview a few years ago when I was (or was pretending to be) a sound operator for a documentary on him. I wasn't invited into his studio though... :(
In a synthetic mood

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Post by Micke » Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:50 pm

Thanks for the thumbs up :)

The CD is out-of-print I think but there's currently a copy up for sale on US ebay:
LINK
"The (Yamaha) CS-80 is a step ahead in keyboard control, and a generation behind in digital control" -- Dan Wyman, Jan 1979

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Post by filtermod » Sat Nov 17, 2007 9:07 pm

I love that movie!
Great soundtrack too, I really dig Carpenter's '70's and 80's film scores.
I recently found the movie new on DVD, but I've never come across the soundtrack.
Thanks for the great pics and info guys!
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Post by Soundwave » Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:57 pm

:D No s**t I have the soundtrack on 12"!

Image

Best film ever when I was 11! 8)



The title video and song does stink but not quite as much with nostalgic ears.
(Check out Adam Sandler's dad!)



Stop sniffing the powder and get back to the doobies John! The 80's eh? :roll:

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Post by Micke » Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:17 pm

Here you can listen to an mp3 of an unreleased track from BIG Trouble:
http://www.wingkong.net/sounds/mp3/airportsong.mp3

Cool 8)
"The (Yamaha) CS-80 is a step ahead in keyboard control, and a generation behind in digital control" -- Dan Wyman, Jan 1979

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Post by celebutante » Mon Nov 19, 2007 7:00 pm

Bitexion wrote:That studio just looks obscene. I'd have to lock myself in the bathroom and j**k off to release the pressure if I entered that synth haven, I think.

He looks kind of "mad scientist"-ish too, very fitting for being surrounded by hi-tech gear :) Look at the walls in that studio! Lego! Gotta love his soundtracks. I wonder if you can buy this soundtrack..don't have the movie anymore.
I met Alan recently and he is still a mad scientist... he's into all kinds of futuristic sound design and inventing new technologies.
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Post by RobotHeroes » Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:21 pm

Image

Jack Burton: All I know is that this Lo Pan character comes out of thin air in the middle of a goddamn alley while his buddies are flying around on wires cutting everybody to shreds while he just STANDS there waiting for me to drive my truck straight through him with LIGHT coming out of his mouth!

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I used to watch this movie every time it would air on tv. I think I saw the DVD at Best Buy once for like $6. This movie is so dope I think I will go for a special edition. The soundtrack is great.

I had always hoped for a part 2. The girls get kidnapped and end up in China and its another over the top action movie. They fight goblins, demons and all that jazz, please CG only effects and use people make-up and puppets. Gerald Okamura comes back with his golden revolvers and Al Leong with his hatchets and crazy beard. :D
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Post by Soundwave » Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:39 pm

RobotHeroes wrote: I used to watch this movie every time it would air on tv. I think I saw the DVD at Best Buy once for like $6. This movie is so dope I think I will go for a special edition. The soundtrack is great.
Dude if your a fan the special editions the only way, loadsa deleted scenes and work prints cuts.

When you see the cut scenes without the editing or music you really appreciate how the tension is kept with the editing and score which I'm pretty sure was done the old fashion way by playing to whats going on on screen.

"Have you paid your doo's Jack? Yes sir the cheque is in the mail!" 8)

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Post by oberheim » Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:29 pm

Bitexion wrote:That studio just looks obscene. I'd have to lock myself in the bathroom and j**k off to release the pressure if I entered that synth haven, I think.
:lol: too much info man...
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Post by scoopicman » Wed Nov 21, 2007 10:32 am

Nice read, Micke! It's right next to my BOOGEYMAN CD. I have the record album and the Super Tracks' CD.

-Mike


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