BORDERLANDS 3: Bounty of Blood
Music System Controlled
Learning the Morin Khuur and Tuvan throat singing techniques was one of my favorite parts of creating this material. I tuned the Morin Khuur to an octave and also lowered the pitch so the strings are fairly loose. Many of it’s parts are pitched up an octave for doubling purposes.
The first ambient track features a clip of one of our quartet sessions run through some cassette tape emulation to add character. Stormdrum 3 provides taikos with very aggressive compression from “The Glue” compressor VST. The Morin khuur was recorded in my home working space during the pandemic.
Combat Clip Shuffling
Combat Soundtrack Mixes
In the first combat clip, the morin khuur is featured as well as a stock kontakt upright piano. The huge distorted leads are tow serum patches, one providing a bass range and the other a mid/high range with panning. That’s partly why they sound so big. You can hear them return about mid-way through the Kormash track with different settings where they’re tuned a little less aggressively. These bass lines were also created using Melodyne’s MIDI export capability, so I would “write” the line using the morin khuur so I had free pitch control and then export that for synth doubling. In this case, I ended up deleting the morin khuur and keeping just the synth.
Music System Ex. 1
These ambient pieces use Morin Khuur and bowed acoustic guitar as the primary elements of character. Much of the background ambience are 4 layers of the Morin Khuur being played close to the bridge. Some at different finger positions so that the harmonics blended to create secondary chordal elements in that background “wash” that’s present throughout most of these pieces.
I’ve always been drawn to live electric bass for caverns (I have no idea why) and combined with all the old wood construction, it gave it this interesting “mystery” vibe, or a small hint of saya? Jazz trio. Combined with the morin khuur, I felt it made for a really unique mood to this place.
Music System Ex. 2
Combat Soundtrack Mixes
The combat music uses a clip of the quartet creating an aleatoric pizzicato texture with all the players playing random notes. I heavily modified it and added an auto filter and some distortion to help smooth out the artifacts and get some frequency movement based on amplitude. Lots of hand editing went into creating the various melodies and there are about 3 layers of pizzicato layers with different processing and EQ cutoffs, distortion settings, sidechaing, etc… This produces the effect of certain “voices” cutting in and kind of belching out their distorted melodies.
The background tension is mostly the morin khuur, but I also use some strident textures from the quartet as well. There are also kontakt libraries of woodwind and brass effects mixed in to increase the staging of the scene.
Belik Primis Boss
Soundtrack Boss Mix
While we decided we wanted to take a very experimental approach to the ambient and combat music for many areas of this DLC, the bosses were intended to retain some of the EDM flavor and energy from the main game.
To that end I attempted to marry up influences from Trip Hop to provide some lurch, serum programmed distortion leads similar to guitar tones but with a more “tech” personality to them, and then of course distorted Morin Khuur.
Rose and the Ruiner?
Both of these pieces came in hot during the landing of this DLC. I wanted the music for Rose to be a little understated to build anticipation, but it’s still Borderlands, so the music needed to build to high energy during the fight. So I chose to do a constant rising energy that breaks back down and builds back up in a constant cycle.
The ruiner was a lot of fun and I wish I had time to extend it into a larger piece. I used the same Serum distorted leads from Ashfall Peaks and I wanted to give the end fight some melodic orchestration while also giving it an almost whimsical Morin Khuur lead. It’s very easy for Borderlands to just become a sledge hammer of energy so I like to try and interject some personality or surprising elements that still feel good in-context of the fight.?
Full Soundcloud Playlist
This soundtrack was the last work I contributed as an in-house employee of Gearbox. While covid-19 threw a lot of curveballs at us, we were able to produce something unique and new for the Borderlands universe with this DLC. This felt like a high note to end on.