Main Theme

After we’re treated to some opening words explaining the world we’re in, the Voight-Kampff test on replicant Leon and Deckard being arrested downtown, we finally hear the main Blade Runner theme in all its glory as we pan over the futuristic Los Angeles sky-line. Let’s listen in from 1:06:

We can approximate Vangelis’s famous CS-80 sound with Logic’s ES2 or most other analog simulation subtractive synths. The sound is comprised of two detuned sawtooths (I used 4 cents between them) running into a resonant low-pass filter with some drive added.

Envelope 2 is controlling the filter cutoff with envelope 3 hardwired to the volume. I’ve added some additional filter modulation from the modwheel and velocity. The patch is finished off with some healthy analog detuning and vibrato run into Logic’s Space Designer (1.7s_Blue Plate):

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Here’s a handy video explaining this sound in real time. Also Novation’s Mininova and Ultranova have Vangelis inspired patchbanks you can download and hear here.

It’s played very rubato. The below score is close to what’s there (at 64 bpm) but not perfect. The main idea is in E major with a brief modulation to B major in bars 8 and 9, before resolving in E again.

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The droning strings underneath are a stack in Logic (select a MIDI track and hit shift + cmd + D). This way we can send the same MIDI to several instruments. I’ve used EXS24’s Mini_Pro Chorus Warm, a Jupiter 6 drone courtesy of Sample Magic’s excellent BLOQ, some real strings from an unknown library and a very light Arturia CS-80v.

Around 2:24 we hear the second part of the theme which sees Vangelis skip through a few different keys, starting off in E major (if you want to think of this modally it’s more likely E Lydian as it includes an A#), then down to Eb, Db and finally ending in C where we hear a reprise of the first theme.

Again this is very loosely played and although I’ve attempted to recreate the timing with the audio example, the score is hugely simplified for ease of reading.

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N.B I’ve scored the chord in bar 3 as a D# as that’s more succinct with the chromatic descent from the E, however I felt it easier to describe the chord in bar 7 as an Eb as that requires less accidentals. Also omitted the low bass drones (E for bars 1 -3, etc) to keep the score tidy.

Let’s have a look at some of the tracks that have sampled the opening theme:

Dave Wallace – Future Reality Part 2 [1996]

Company Flow – Info Kill II [1997]

Breakage ‎– Questions [2006]

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