I managed to pull something together using 61 instruments.
List of instruments
AudioMulch Signal Generators
Ableton Live 8
Lounge Lizard Session 4
Strum Session 2
Ultra Analog Session 2
Upright Piano 1
I started by building an 8-bar loop of stuff with Ableton Live 8’s built-in instruments. That’s the main bunch of sounds you hear through most of the track. I kinda like it, kinda think it sounds like a crappy demo. I’ve never really used Live, but I got a licence for some cut down version of it once upon a time and I decided to count its instruments as “available”.
I exported the Live loops and loaded them into AudioMulch, and added parts from the 5 Mulch contraptions I decided to count. The Mulch stuff suggested a coda, so that’s the stuff based around a drone (the subtonic of the original key, hmm).
Next I recorded some notes on the 3 physical instruments I had, and played about with those in Reaper, changing pitch on the kalimba and harmonica to get them in key. I reversed the kalimba too and put lots of echoes on it.
I figured the sounds I’d already got needed to be the foundation and fairly consistent, else the track I’d started wouldn’t hold together. I did toy with constantly switching the arrangement and having something like maybe you’d hear on Orange Milk records, but it felt at odds with where I was headed.
From there on in, I basically worked in Reaper, and did a lot of what felt like cheating. I made ensembles of many similar sounds and then put fx on them to bind them together, like the first sounds you hear, the string machine stuff that’s coming in around 1m30s, and all the chiming stuff in the second half of the track fed through a warbly tape effect. Then there’s many moments where a single note underscores something, often a bit of a bass pedal.
I don’t particularly like the track, but there are some bits in there I can imagine recycling. I’m soooo used to working with sampled and manipulated sounds but didn’t feel like working hard on that aspect after spending heaps of time just ticking off every instrument. I also ruled samples out of the list of instruments, because that would get even more unwieldy. There were also many times where I would’ve ordinarily let individual sounds have more space for themselves, but it was hard to do so within the context of the assignment.