Welcome To Nightfall came about because of my fascination with an instrument called a Mellotron. You can have a listen to the song here:
I remember when I was studying for GCSE Music, one of the pieces of music we had to study was Strawberry Field Forever by The Beatles. The songs starts off with flutes playing the opening chord sequence, however when listening to the song I though that there was something odd about the way that the flutes sounded.
Digging a little bit deeper I found out that they were not ‘real’ flutes at all, it was in fact a Mellotron. Here’s Paul McCartney talking about it:
A Mellotron is essentially a big collection of tape machines, one for each key on the keyboard. Each tape contained a recording of whatever instrument or sound it was that you wanted to play.
Obviously this meant that a Mellotrons were big and heavy and were prone to failures. Changing the tapes over was no easy feat either.
The great thing about technology today is that it means it is possible for an instrument such as a Mellotron to be created virtually in software and an instrument that is very rare and expensive can now be experienced by anybody.
The bit of software that caught my eye is called M-Tron Pro by GForce Software.
GForce M-Tron Pro
I was really impressed with the M-Tron Pro and had great fun playing with the sounds. In fact I’ve already used it of a few of my songs including Make It Better and I’ve Found You.
However what really kickstarted Welcome To Nightfall was when I bought an expansion pack for the M-Tron Pro called OptiTron.
M-Tron – OptiTron
This expansion adds sounds from the Optigan, which was a home organ that was manufactured by the toy company Mattel during the 1970s.
The Optigan included a number of rhythms which could be used to accompany yourself as you played on the main keyboard. The OptiTron expansion adds these rhythms to the M-Tron Pro.
There are a number of different rhythms and the associated musical keys are mapped out across 35 notes on the keyboard. The means that there are sections on the keyboard for major, minor and diminished keys.
Optigan Rhythm Controls
Once I started playing around with these rhythm patterns I was immediately hooked and started layering up more and more Optigan and Mellotron sounds until a song started to form.
Unlike the Mellotron sounds which were stored on tape, the Optigan sounds were stored on flexible optical discs.
I really loved the grainy lo-fi nature of the sounds. They are full of hiss, pops, crackles and there is a certain amount of wobble going on which all sound fantastic and full of character.
At first I thought that the songs was going to be an instrumental in the style of Sigur Ros. As I played around with the song more and more, I found myself adding a vocal line and it quickly became a fully fledged song.
Drums, guitars and bass followed along with a lot of harmonies. I spent a long time working on the arrangement of the song as I really wanted it to build up as it went along.
Once it was finished I sent it off for mastering at Abbey Road Studios as I have done for my other songs.
Listening to the finished song, it fells like a beginning of the album kind of song.
I hope you like it too.