This isn’t really a bridge, I am just struggling to name each section. This is 32 bars in, and we have our first “chord change”. We have some synthetic string-like sound added playing an Eb and G minor chord. For this any Solina-like strings would suffice but I’ve opted for the Arturia Oberheim SEM V (an emulation of the Oberheim SEM).
I found a patch called KL_PseudoOrch_St which was fine. I reduced the attack time of the filter to make it sound a little less pompous. Finally some high-pass filter courtesy of Live’s stock Auto Filter to reduce the low-end.
In this section the Moog, Mono/Poly and PolySix move to a different pattern and the Jupiter plays the same G, Bb, F, Bb ostinato:
This leads into a breakdown with just the strings and the Jupiter, and then to our last section.
Main Theme Reprise
We now move to the final section of the track, with the PolySix switching to this sequenced octave bass line:
This could well have been triggered via the rim shot output of a TR-X0X drum machine or similar, but I’ve just programmed at in.
The final ingredient in this section is a thin arpeggiated line, running up a G minor pentatonic scale, creating a 6 against 4 polyrhythm. For this I’ve used the Arturia Prophet-V (an emulation of a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5). This is a simple two oscillator patch with Osc A set to a pulse wave (with the pulse width just after halfway) and Osc B set to a triangle and sawtooth, tuned down one octave.
This runs into the low-pass filter with a quick envelope decay and sustain set to about half way. Almost certainly the filter envelope amount was adjusted live in tracking, so I’ve approximated this by with some automation:
I’ve used Live’s Auto Filter to remove the unwanted bass and the Waves Aphex Vintage Exciter to add some presence to the sound. There’s some echo on this too, which I used the SoundToys excellent EchoBoy (easily my favourite delay plug-in) on a send/return track. I set the rate to 1/4 beat, turned the mix to full and the feedback to about halfway. I found the Space Echo algorithm to work best (an emulation of the classic Roland RE-201 Space Echo).
To finish off the mix I added some Valhalla Shimmer and SoundToys LittlePrimalTap on sends. These are both eighties-sounding effects to me (or early nineties in the case of Shimmer but…). These helped butter some elements of the mix up like the leads and arpeggios.
On the master bus I added an instance of Fielding DSP Reviver (great cheap plug-in) to add a bit of third order harmonics. I topped it off with some Waves SSL Bus Compression and PSP Vintage Warmer. Here’s the finished mix!
It’s certainly NOT perfect but I just wanted to capture the mood of this haunting but uplifting piece. This is only really a mornings work and although I may be able to get marginally closer than I have done to certain sounds, I’m happy with where it is as a guide.
I, of course, (like many others) love the Stranger Things soundtrack but also the genre as a whole, and there are loads of other great eighties synthwave stuff to check out if you like this. For example I would highly recommend Makeup and Vanity Set, Boards of Canada’s later work, Mitch Murder and almost anything you can find here.
If you enjoyed this, feel free to download the project and MIDI here. Any comments, criticism and feedback welcomed.
But wait, there’s more….
The nice guys at Reverb.com have also published this video on the synthesisers used in the soundtrack, including Kids at 5.12. Enjoy: