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First crack at it

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Travis Morgan, Apr 18, 2020.

  1. So I saw this indie game on twitter. In early development, looks cool, doesn't appear to have a composer. Thought I'd take a crack at composing for it - for good practice, if nothing else.

    Was my first real attempt at writing orchestral music. Or, at least, first attempt after having taken a bunch of Mikes' courses. Didn't quite turn out how I wanted or expected, but I'm happy since it's better than anything I've made up until now.

    Main takeaways:
    • Fuck, Mike was right - gotta compose on a piano, not my template
    • Fuck, Mike was right - gotta transcribe a lot to be good at this
    • Fuck, I suck, fuck me, fuck
  2. Hi Travis!
    I can say for sure that you are laying down patterns very clearly so that is great!
    However at around 1:06 mark I was ready and expecting a new reharmonization or some kind of other development of the melody and you literally repeated the idea if I am not mistaken after my first listen, later you did a reharmonization it was fine, to me personally it didn't feel like there is enough contrast compared to the first harmonization maybe?
    Thank you for sharing it :), I hope this can help at least a bit for your future compositions.
  3. Hey Travis! Let's get one thing out of the way first: you don't suck half as much as you think you do.

    Honestly, the requirements for music in a game context are simply much different to those in a film or standalone context. I've found that music for games can get away with a lot more repetition for example, and in a way it has to. I might catch some flak for saying this, but I don't think game music needs as much development as film music. So, whilst I thought the percussion got a little too obviously repetitive, I am not as bothered by other elements of repetition. I think you track is actually quite effective. It sets a mood, and in my experience that's the most important thing for game music to do. One thing that I've always struggled with when creating game music is finding the right tempo, but I think you nailed it here. So, ultimately, I think you're very much on the right track because what you wrote (to my ears at least) is effective for the scene in the game, and the flavor/style of music does fit the aesthetics rather well. If I were you, I wouldn't spend too much more time on template stuff or trying to make it sound more real, because the (sampled/old-ish) sound you're getting here already fits the game's look.

    So yeah, from one sucker to another: I don't think you suck nearly as much as I do. You've got to up your sucking gam- ok, I'll zip it here, this is starting to sound bad haha
  4. You're right on. I don't think game music needs to be repetitive structurally, but it certainly isn't tied to a screen like film music is and can get awy with reptition. Good game music still develops though IMO, although it often seems to flow more like a record than a film.
    Matthias Calis likes this.
  5. That's a great start! Did the devs comment on your music yet?

    I somewhat disagree on leaving the template as it is. But I agree on not trying to make it super realistic. What I would do first is get an idea of what the game's sound effects will be like to see what areas of the frequency spectrum they mostly occupy so that you can take that into account for both orchestration and EQ settings. Then I would use something like the free tool "panagement" and maybe some reverb, to get the different instrument sections more in the same space. To me the choir sounds rather out of place because it sounds so much further away and centered than the woodwinds. Depending on what kinds of devices the game is supposed to be played on later, you might also need to keep an eye on mono-compatibility.
    It's maybe also worth considering reverb levels between sound effects and music. If the game's sound effects are rather dry, you might want to go easy on the reverb for the music too, and vice versa. In the end the effects and music should form a cohesive whole and not get in the way of each other or distract from each other in my opinion.
    Matthias Calis likes this.
  6. #6 Travis Morgan, Apr 24, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2020
    Thanks for the feedback, boys.

    I agree with most of what's been said here. I do feel like it's a bit too repetitive, also that the B section doesn't quite fit - it's a bit too major and not evil enough. Writing developments that sound "right" has always been the most difficult thing for me in music. I can come up with most of a song pretty quick, but filling the gaps properly is like pulling teeth. There's always somewhere the music wants to go, and I have to throw a million ideas at it and get super depressed for a week+ until I figure out the solution. If I figure out the solution.

    Also, good call on the reverb stuff, Martin. Half the choir is VI, the other half is me (trying to sing low enough in my shipping-crate-sized studio that I don't wake the neighbors at 1am). The tracks of me definitely could use some better EQing the blend into the space with the rest of the VI. And for better or worse, this was my best attempt at trying to make it all sound realistic...! But the choir is indeed both further away and more centered than the woods. I used this reference picture to pan my orchestra around:


    Truth be told, I kinda rushed this piece out the door. I don't quite feel like my skills are where they need to be yet, but it's so rare to find a cool looking game in development that doesn't already have a composer, I felt that every day I let go by without sending him something was a day that some other, more talented composer guy or gal could beat me to the punch. Still, good practice, though. Someday, when real life obligations slow down a bit, I wanna do this a lot more often...


    I'm a believe-it-when-I-see-it kinda guy, but hey - it's a good sign...

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