Create retro sci‑fi soundtracks with Cubase’s Retrologue 2.
The use of songs by Metallica and Kate Bush may well have stolen the musical headlines for season 3 of Stranger Things, but the underlying synth‑based score remains hugely important to the show’s iconic retro sci‑fi ’80s vibe. In our March 2017 interview, composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein explained the influence of the likes of Jean‑Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, John Carpenter and Giorgio Moroder, and how the pair made use of their impressive collection of (mainly vintage) analogue synths.
For these sorts of sounds, it makes sense to start with the sine, saw or square oscillator waveforms typically used in vintage hardware synths.
If the idea of creating a similar sound in software appeals, the Retrologue 2 synth bundled with Cubase Pro and Artist (it can be bought separately too) can get you pretty close. For these sorts of sounds, it makes sense to start with the sine, saw or square oscillator waveforms typically used in vintage hardware synths, but that 2017 interview offered some other helpful pointers. These include: not being afraid to let the mix get a bit ‘murky’; using low cutoff frequencies (particularly for bass sounds) so things don’t get too ‘growly’; using EQ to keep high‑end fizz at bay; keeping filter resonance modest; using analogue‑style delay to add texture; and detuning notes to provide an unsettling or random dimension.
The score uses synth sounds in various roles, but in this workshop we’ll explore three prominent examples: arpeggiated leads, evolving pads and dark bass tones.
Repeat After Me
The first screen is a good, simple starting point for the kind of arpeggiated lead used in the Stranger Things theme tune. A pair of oscillators, both based on single saw waves, are set an octave apart for a slightly fatter sound. In the Voice panel, Mono mode is switched on and a very short Glide time provides a slight sense of pitch‑sliding between notes. In the Main section, the most important thing is a very low (not zero) Rnd Pitch setting, giving the pitch of each note a very small random offset.
In the Filter section, note the low values of the 12dB/octave low‑pass filter’s Resonance and Cutoff. The Filter envelope is given only a modest amount of velocity response (as is the Amplifier envelope; lots of...
You are reading one of the locked Subscribers-only articles from our latest 5 issues.
You've read 30% of this article for free, so to continue reading...
- ✅ Log in - if you have a Subscription you bought from SOS.
- Buy & Download this Single Article in PDF format £1.00 GBP$1.49 USD
For less than the price of a coffee, buy now and immediately download to your computer or smartphone.
- Buy & Download the FULL ISSUE PDF
Our 'full SOS magazine' for smartphone/tablet/computer. More info...
- Buy a DIGITAL subscription (or Print + Digital)
Instantly unlock ALL premium web articles! Visit our ShopStore.