Learn to Code RPG – Full Soundtrack + How I Made It

First: what you probably came here for. Here’s the full soundtrack to Learn to Code RPG. 36 minutes of jazz.

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I am currently uploading this to Spotify.

How I Made The Learn to Code RPG Soundtrack

Rock from the 60s.
Funk from the 70s.
Jazz from the 80s.
Hip Hop from the 90s.

I was a lover of music. But I never really learned how to play.

That changed 3 months into the pandemic. I bought an electric bass. I clocked several hundred hours in Rocksmith practicing the bass lines of Nathan East, Bootsy Collins, and Andy Rourke from The Smiths.

Bootsy Collins, the legendary bassist for both Parliament and James Brown 

For theory, I made heavy use of Musician YouTube, including Rick Beato and Adam Neely, and most importantly Paul Del Bello.

I also got guidance from two musicians in the freeCodeCamp community: Lawrence Yeo (AKA Trebles and Blues) and Devin Lane (AKA Gentle Return). Check out their tunes.

Before long I came to realize that almost any piece of music could potentially sound good with nothing more than drums, bass, and a piano. But I didn’t want to find a drummer or a pianist, so I set out to learn how to play those instruments myself.

My gear – a Fender Precision bass, Roland Octopad, and M-Audio midi controller

I started by learning to read music, doing ear training, memorizing the circle of fifths – all the things I presume you learn in music school. But I quickly abandoned that in favor of just sitting down and writing songs.

I bought a $100 midi controller and a $200 copy of Logic Pro, then got to work learning how to compose chords and melodies, and play to a metronome.

It took about 6 months, but I recorded dozens of instrumental tracks, 10 of which made it into the first release of Learn to Code RPG. I am working on several more songs with similar tempos and instrumentation for future expansions to the game.

How do you make your keyboard sounds?

I build my synth patches using Logic’s built-in Alchemy additive synth and its analog synth. I also use some of Logic’s stock pianos, electric pianos, organs, and its celesta.

What do you use for drums?

I play a heavily modified Logic producer drum kit on a Roland Octopad. I use heavy muting and very few plugins. I’m going for a dry, crisp 1970s sound.

You may notice that I only use the kick, snare, ride, and hi-hat. That is all that the 70s greats like Clyde Stubblefield and Gregory Coleman needed to build grooves. So I imposed that constraint upon myself. (I find that reasonable constraints can accelerate the creative process.)

Rather than playing the classic 70s breakbeats, I attempt to weave my own around the song’s bass line.

What is that kick drum sound?

A booming house music kick layered on top of a clicky death metal kick.

What is that bass sound?

The bass you hear on the Learn to Code RPG soundtrack is a fattened-up analog synth sound with some delay and distortion. I can’t quite play bass tight enough for studio-grade recordings, and rather than chopping it my playing, I just played on a keyboard. I EQ the bass at 40 Hz to make room room for the kick, and so it still sounds OK on a phone’s speakers.

Can I use your music in my videos / on my live stream?

DM me on Twitter and we can discuss this.

Can you play my tech conference / roller skating rink / art opening?

That sounds like a blast. DM me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading about my music. I never thought I’d discover a new all-consuming passion at age 40. But it has been a blast. And I am just getting started. If I am lucky, I will still have 40 years left in me to learn music and create work I am proud of.

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