John Carpenter appreciation thread

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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by CapnMarvel » Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:50 pm

Thanks for making my afternoon quite a bit more interesting! Time to go off to Amazon to try to find some of these OSTs on CD.
Gear List: A bunch that go 'WHHONNGG!', several that go 'tweedle tweedle' and 'thumpity', and a few that don't make any noise at all but have lots of delightful little lights on them.

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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by Zamise » Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:18 am

I have:

Dark Star - Can't say I enjoyed this one much but I've yet to finish it all the way through.

In the Mounth of Madness - Pretty good, can't remember the score much tho..,+ cameo by young darth vader riding his bike.

They Live - Can't say the score is great but its definatly memorable and the movie is unforgetable and a cult clasic for me.

I've seen a lot of other movies of his, not all. The Thing would probably be my favorite although I can't remember the score but I remember some of the sounds and effects in it. Village of the Damned was pretty awefull, couldn't beleive he made that pile.

He is not my favorite director, but he has been around for quite a while, and I've always been impressed that he did the scores to at least some of his movies, don't know if all how many or which ones exactly, but directing them I think is pretty big deal by itself. I just noticed he did the soundtrack to Planet Terror, that had a pretty freaking cool soundtrack, I do remember some of those sounds in it totally matched that retro 80s horror feel. Now I know why. I still need to see Ghosts of Mars, its going down on my list.
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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by Pro5 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:21 am

I'm a big JC Fan so this thread gets my =D>

And yes his synth scores add tremendously to the atmosphere of most of his films. My favourites would be Halloween, The Thing, The Fog (esp for atmosphere and creepy synth).

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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by iProg » Tue Dec 09, 2008 11:12 am

So, what synths made these gorgeous scores then? :D

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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by Micke » Tue Dec 09, 2008 9:25 pm

Below is a listing of what synths/gear Carpenter and his synth programmers used on those scores. Comments by Dan Wyman, Alan Howarth and myself

Dark Star (1974): EMS VCS3

According to Alan Howarth, Carpenter recorded the underscore and FX at a friends house back in late '73.



Assault On Precinct 13 (1976), Halloween (1978) & The Fog (1979): expanded Moog modular IIIP comprising of 5-9 box units incl. double sequencer complement.
Some (but not all) of the FX for The Fog was done by Frank Serafine with a Rev 2 Prophet 5.

Image
Dan Wyman (the bearded guy in the middle) at Sound Arts studios in LA, circa summer 1976. This is what
the Moog would've looked like when Carpenter recorded AOP13 there.

Says Dan Wyman: "All of the programming for all of the films was done on a Series III Moog (sometimes called a Moog 55) with 5 boxes. While I had both an Arp string synthesizer and an Oberheim around, I did NOT use them for either Halloween or the Fog. We used an acoustic piano for Halloween as well (John played some, I played some.) The tempco circuit in the Moog 951-952 keyboards had a tendency to wander a bit- something john would not have known. However, I am somewhat cursed with perfiect pitch, and I remember stopping somewhat frequently to retune. John probably remembers that, as those were very low budget films, and he wanted to spend as little as possible. The sessions were "non-union," and we were all paid very little for our work. Mr. Carpenter made millions. That was life in the film industry of
the 1970s. All synthesis for all three of those films was done at Sound Arts. We also did most of the effects for The Fog. "

"As a center for the Moog/Moog Norlin Co., we (SOund Arts) were constantly mixing and matching modules. I had both 901s and 921s in the box. We stabilized the older 901s with a stabilizing transistor pair. I certainly did have plenty of 921s- especially the master oscillator that allowed me to do quadrature phase synchronization. We got the Bell labs
"barber poll" effect for a film called "Metamorphosis" (Wings of Change). At one point I had nine black boxes, a triple walnut cabinet (system 55), mini moog, sonic six, Yamaha dream machine, Arp 2600, a couple of Oberheims, and eventually, yes, 2 (not one) of the original Sequential Circuits 10 voice, single keyboard synths. All of this, before we beefed up for Apocalypse Now (bought a great deal of Emu modular). So, to guarantee what we used for
any given scene- hey, I used whatever I felt like at the moment, and didn't
really pay attention to it."


Wyman commenting on the synth strings/pad featured in AOP13 main theme:

"The strings are ALL Moog. That patch is: 9 oscillators (with slight frequency differences) mixed, into a filter set- highpass-lowpass, with a very highly attenuated keyboard triggered envelope opening up and down slowly on it, keyboard tracking at 60percent, and the telltale signature of envelope-controlled vibrato that widens slightly as the key is depressed. You will note that the strings are not "buzzy" so no 2-pole Oberheim filters were used, and that the synchronized opening and closing of the VCFs could not be accomplished by placing an ARP through Moog filters. The String Ensemble had no filter of that kind. You are hearing (at one quick listening) three tracks of strings, with the characteristic tape flatness of a 3M 24track, albeit squashed by several layers of Digital World compression algorithm. Oh, and I had a little regeneration up on the high strings to get an edge going. Half of those oscillators were 921s, the others
were 901s.


Music recorded at Sound Arts studios, Los Angeles CA. Synth-programming by Dan Wyman.
(AOP13 was recorded on 8 track, Halloween on 16 track and The Fog on 24 track).



Escape from New York (late 1980):
Prophet-5 (rev 2)
ARP Quadra
ARP Avatar (2)
ARP Sequencer
Roland CSQ-600 Sequencer
Sequential Circuits 700 Programmer
Roland SVC-350 Vocoder
Linn LM-1 Drum Computer

Image
EFNY recording sessions, winter 1980.

Image
Another shot from the EFNY sessions.

Music recorded at Pi West studios, Glendale CA. Synth-programming by Alan Howarth



Halloween II (1981):
Same setup as for EFNY plus Prophet 10.

Music recorded at Pi West studios, Glendale CA. Synth-programming by Alan Howarth.



Halloween III (1982):
Prophet-10 w/ Poly Sequencer
Prophet-5 (now a Rev 3.2 or 3.3) w/ Poly Sequencer
ARP Avatar (2)
ARP Sequencer
Sequential Circuits Programmer Mdl.700
Linn LM-1 Drum Computer
Moog Vocoder

Image
Halloween III recording sessions, summer 1982.

Music recorded at Pi West studios, Glendale CA. Synth-programming by Alan Howarth.



Christine, The Lost Empire & Osterman Weekend (1983):
Same setup as for HIII plus Emulator I

Howarth in his re-built one-man-studio Electric Melody Studios, late '83:

Image

Image


Music recorded at Electric Melody studios, Glendale CA (In the spring of 1983, Alan Howarth re-built his home studio and added lots of new gear).



Big trouble in little China & Retribution (1986):
Prophet-5 & Prophet-10 w/ Poly sequencers
E-mu Emulator I & II
ARP Avatar (x2) and Arp Sequencer
Linn LM-1 Drum Computer
Kurzweil K250
Prophet 2002
Prophet VS-2400 Vector Synth
LinnDrum
Oberheim 4-voice w/Midi (this was Joe Zawinuls' original 4-voice which later was rackmounted and MIDIed)

Image
Electric Melody studios, November 1985.

For Big trouble - Carpenter & Howarth's first MIDI score - Howarth was able to trade Sequential some of his own
programs for use of a prototype Prophet VS, which he used for a lot of the "Chinese" sounds.

Says Howarth: "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've got a lot of great sounds out of it...whenever Chinese black magic was cast against the bad guy, we used the Prophet 2002 choir preset along with a VS sound that was sort of voicy. We recycled that as a sound, rather than a theme, so the audience would hear that and think, "Here come the good guys".

Image Image Image
Pics of the actual Oberheim 4-voice rackmount unit used on Carpenter's scores.

"We had a MOTU Performer running on a MAC Plus. This let us get every sampler and analoge sysnth the stack on every track. That's why this score was a new sound. The VS was a new instrument 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 perple and I got a lot of cool samples as well as I programed many of my own stuff for the E2."



Music recorded in February to mid-May '86 at Electric Melody studios, Glendale CA. Synth-programming by Alan Howarth.



Prince Of Darkness (1987)
Emulator I & II with CD ROM
Kurzwell K250 with 50K sampling
Sequential VS-2400 Vector Synthesis
Sequential Prophet 10
Sequential Prophet 2002
Oberheim 4 voice w/Midi
ARP Avatar
Korg DVP-1 Vocoder
Moog Vocoder

software:
Mark of the Unicorn Performer V 1.22.2.0

The Oberheim 4-voice was mostly used as a bass unit on Big trouble.. and POD. Some of the killer-bass sounds on POD, for instance on the track Team Assembly, were made by combining a sampled PPG bass sound (played on Emulator II) with the Oberheim.

Music recorded at Electric Melody studios, Glendale CA. Synth-programming by Alan Howarth.



Halloween IV & They Live (1988):

KEYBOARDS – Synclavier Digital Audio System, Emulator II with OMI CD-ROM, Yamaha DX7, SCI Prophet 10, 2002 and VS, Ensoniq EPS and SQ-80, Oberheim SEM-4.
OUTBOARD EFFECTS – Korg DVP-1, Moog Vocoder, Eventide H949, Lexicon 224X, Delta Lab DL-4 & DL-5,
JL Cooper MSB 16/20.
COMPUTERS AND SOFTWARE – Apple Macintosh SE & II, Digidesign Cue Sheet, Mark of the Unicorn Performer 2.31.

Image
Still pic of John Carpenter from They Live DVD commentary. Note the Synclavier and the synth/FX rack in
the backgroud.

Howarth: "simultaneously to getting started on THEY LIVE I also acquired a new musical instrument called a Synclavier, and the sonic capabilities of that instrument are just to the Nth degree, it sounds as good as it's going to sound. Playing back sampled sounds from the Synclavier gave us ultra-realism; slide guitars, saxophones, acoustic basses, and nice well-recorded instrumental sounds were all available to us in such a way that we could multi-track until we just worked it out. The thing with John, because he's so visual, if he can watch the movie and listen to the score, he knows everything he needs to know.
There was a certain sort of sonic challenge in THEY LIVE. For the whole alien element, we developed some sounds, signature music that you always heard whenever they were around. There were some other sort of TWILIGHT ZONE/sci-fi sound effects that we also included directly in with the music as we went, and we hadn't done that before. In fact a couple of them made it to the soundtrack album, it was very interesting. At the same time, this is the first time we went through and actually scored all the source cues. All the little TV snippets that are happening innocuously in the background. For one reason or another, we actually wrote special pieces for all those little things. Usually some editor would just go to a source music library and look for music from records, or from wherever, that music's going to be put in there, because its not important things,. But that's some of John's sense of humor to, going ahead and making up car commercials and beer commercials that's running along with what's going on."


Music recorded at Electric Melody studios, Glendale CA. Synth-programming by Alan Howarth.
Last edited by Micke on Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by Zamise » Wed Dec 10, 2008 5:40 am

Cool pics! Think his music stuido looks much difrent today?

Whos the buck toothed babe?
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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by obsidious » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:40 am

This thread is pure gold, thanks Micke!

Whatever happened to JC, why doesn't he do features anymore? Granted the last one I saw was Vampires which was pretty sucky, and I stayed away from Ghosts of Mars for that reason, but is he fully retired from feature films now? (not counting those masters of horror things) All he does now is sell off old IP and allow hollywood to rape 'em for dollars. There's apparently EFNY and Thing remakes in the pipeline.

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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by dracena » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:48 am

Whoooa, what a list of equipment!!

Just watched Dark Star last night. I really enjoyed it, and the soundtrack too. I was wondering what the electronic parts of the soundtrack were made with. I guessed it was moog modular but didn't quite sound moogish to me. Now I see it was VCS3.

According to my Sci-Fi movie bible ( "Sci-Fi Movies" by John Scalzi) this is "... in terms of fun to production-dollar ratio, this film can't be beat..." I couldn't agree more. The production costs were mere 60.000 USD. And the film is funny, more so than scary. I mean the beachball as an alien, talking bombs debating about meaning of life etc. :mrgreen: cool!

It's actually the first movie I remember watching as a kid in the late 1970s early 80s. I remember it as a scary film. But what would you expect from a kid... :lol:

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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by Computer Controlled » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:54 am

Funny this was posted. I just rented Escape From NY today =o] I love Carpenter's films. Those filters he uses on the lenses that make the lights flare like that really add to the overall composition of the film i think. I own They Live, Prince Of Darkness and In The Mouth Of Madness. I actually took all of the broadcasts from They Live and put them all together for an intro to my sets this weekend.
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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by Micke » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:05 pm

Zamise wrote:
Whos the buck toothed babe?
Her name is Jane Bergman. The guys on the right of Wyman are Jim Cypherd and Bob Walter.
"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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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by THM » Fri Dec 12, 2008 9:04 pm

Wow Micke this is a five star thread !! =D>

All nice clips, nice pics, nice equipment lists and so many info !!
I was surprised a little by e.g. the MOOG strings explanation used on Assaulton Precinct 13 and really enjoyed to read all these stuff.

You really deserve a statue here, Micke !!
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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by Syn303 » Fri Dec 12, 2008 11:00 pm

If anyone is interested there is an excellent cover version
of the Main theme of Assault on Precinct 13 by The Octagon
Man called "Assault" on his album "The Exciting World Of..."
(1995, Electron Industries)

The Octagon Man is also responsible for remixes of Depeche Mode's
"Dream On" single.

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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by Micke » Sat Dec 13, 2008 5:13 pm

Thanks for the compliments :D

I usually prefer to listen to the originals but my favorite cover of a John Carpenter theme is probably Mark Shreeve's version of the AOP13 theme. This track was originally released on his 1983 album "Assassin" (highly recommended). Also, a live version is available on Shreeve's album "Collide" (1994).

Mark Shreeve, his brother Julian and James Goddard performing "Assassin" live at Emma '94:

[youtube]s54kYAVdVjc[/youtube]

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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by halo » Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:55 pm

Great thread and some great research Micke. I'm a massive fan of the AOP13 soundtrack. Nine oscillators...damn.

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Re: John Carpenter appreciation thread

Post by wildstar » Mon Dec 15, 2008 3:10 pm

Awesome information, Micke! Thank you. Great thread

John Carpenter and the POD score are what inspired me to get into synths, and film/TV scoring. Huge influence to this day.

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