Like many enthusiasts of the electronic music genre, I have a huge soft spot in my heart for the classic technological masterpiece known as Tron. Hearing Wendy Carlos’ soundtrack for the first time as a child was a defining moment for me in terms of electronic music.
Years later, when Daft Punk picked up the helm of the music department on "The Grid", my faith in Disney held strong. In my opinion, there couldn’t have been a better successor for the long-returning franchise.
Granted, the movie has been out now well over a year... I am still rocking the soundtrack, though! Here's The Son of Flynn by Daft Punk:
The other day, I decided to try out playing that open arpeggiated part that made everyone’s heart skip when the first trailer premiered, and I thought I’d share how I made it.
Step 1 - Create a Subtractor
Though Tron: Legacy was made in recent years, remember that Daft Punk spent a lot of time emulating the feel that Wendy Carlos had instilled in the first movie with classic analog synthesizers playing epic parts. As a result, the sounds used in the new movie were quite similar.
With this in mind, it would be fitting to use a synthesizer like the Subtractor as it’s easy to use, and can easily emulate that ‘Legacy’ sound.
The patch for the Subtractor is quite simple, and only requires that you lower your decay to around 15, completely eliminate all sustain, and set your release to 24 on your Amp Envelope. This sets you up with a very choppy synth that is perfect for arpeggiations. Also, make sure and raise your Filter 1 (set to Type: 'LP 12') all the way up. No filtering needed here.
Step 2 - Create an RPG-8
It is possible to hand draw 8th-note arpeggiations in, but to avoid making this a very lengthy article indeed, let's create an RPG-8 arpeggiator instead.
The settings on this device are to remain as they are when you first create it. No special settings are needed.
With the chords below, you’ll easily be able to reproduce the Son of Flynn piece:
Step 3 - Create a Thor
Now, you’ll need a pad to go behind your arpeggiation. We’ll use a Thor for this, with the settings below:
What’s taking place is a Multi-Oscillator running through a low pass filter. The Filter Frequency on the Low Pass is set to 1.56 kHz; this gives the oscillator a distinctive mood. You’ll also notice that the Low Pass is being routed through a State Variable Filter setup in High Pass mode. I’m using this to cut some of the lower frequencies in case I decide to add a dedicated bass synth later on. The Filter Frequency is set to 946 Hz.
Once you’ve copied the above settings, copy the notes you played on the first track with the RPG-8 down onto the Thor track as well, so that both instruments are playing the same chords:
Step 4 - Listen
Okay, if you play it back now, you should hear this:
From here, you can either try to reproduce the original, or just create a new song altogether using these sounds.
If you plan to go further with this arrangement of sounds, I’d highly encourage adding in a bass synth to this arrangement, either using another Thor or Subtractor. The bass will definitely be needed for replicating the original song! Enjoy!
Learn more about Reason 6 here!