If you’re a dedicated listener of The Incomparable podcast, you’ve heard a new opening theme in episode 300 (The Incomparable Is People). Billed as a remix, the updated theme is actually the result of a misunderstanding.
A few weeks ago, The Incomparable’s Jason Snell got in touch and suggested that a 300th episode seemed like a good excuse to refresh the show’s theme. I agreed to give it a second look and come up with an update.
A less congested path between short- and long-term memory might have allowed me to recall—two weeks later, when I began work on the thing—that he was after a remix rather than redo. As that didn’t occur, I started in with the idea of coming up with something new that still harkened back to the original theme.
My plan was to re-envision the theme using 8-bit sounds (the kind of sounds produced by first-generation gaming consoles). I pursued this plan to the point of purchasing Plogue’s excellent Chipsounds 8-bit soft synth to use with Logic. Regrettably, after noodling for awhile, I couldn’t find that one inspirational spark that propelled the project forward. Dead endsville.
And so I looked elsewhere. Elsewhere, in this case, was in Logic’s loop collection. Generally I’m not a loop guy—I prefer designing and playing parts myself. But I’m not such a purist that I’ll reject hauling in a couple of interesting loops and manipulating the bejeezus out of them if it kickstarts the project.
As the screenshot reveals, this project is full of loops. What it doesn’t reveal are the effects piled on each one. Going back to the original 8-bit idea, I applied the Bitcrusher effect to most of the loops (the effect reduces the resolution of the sound, providing a distortion reminiscent of those early gaming sounds). So, while the original 8-bit idea may not have panned out, its nugget ultimately drove the project.
“But wait a minute, Chris. You said this was an entirely new theme, yet the original Incomparable theme is clearly there. What gives?”
Return to the screenshot and you see that tracks 9, 16, and 17 are muted. Those are the melody of the first version. This is the version I mixed and sent to Jason, who politely replied that he was looking for a remix rather than a new theme.
Thankfully, the original Incomparable theme is extremely maleable (as evidenced by the many variations heard in The Incomparable Radio Theater). It took about an hour to add the tracks that make up the original Incomparable theme (minus a couple of notes and in a different key). At the same time I rejiggered the two sound effects loops and added the pulsing Black Sun track that opens the theme.
Lesson learned: The creative path is filled with interesting detours and the occasional dead end.
As with my other themes, you can find The Incomparable 300 theme on the Music page.