Composing and Refining


Recently I was working with Saran Walker on developing audio (both composition and sound design) for a game she was working. Sadly, the project has been put on hold as she managed to get herself a sweet job working as a writer at Pixelberry Studios, however it was good fun sketching out ideas, and a worthwhile experience for the new audio content I developed.

The game was to be comprised of 6 mini-games, exploring different aspects of periods and the menstrual cycle. The idea was fairly tongue-in-cheek, and the art style, music and sound would all reflect this.

Although I only got part way through the score before the project was shelved I thought I’d go through some of themes I developed from the initial brief and explain how the brief reacted to the material that was developed, and how the material then evolved to work with this newly augmented brief.

Composing the intro/menu screen music

The initial brief for the menu screen/introduction music was fairly straightforward, including words like “derpy” and “8bit” so, going on these prompts I composed a very simple melody on a MicroKorg:

A while later, after I had composed a few more tracks, it was decided that this “arcade-y” style should be dropped in favour of more organic instrumentation, for this I used my Fender Rhodes, electric bass, and retained a few of the MicroKorg parts as embellishments:

Although Saran was happier with this approach, something about it bothered me (the bass and Rhodes occupy similar frequencies, which I felt made it seem kind of muddied) so I went on to strip out the bass and tighten up the melody:


Supermarket theme

One of the mini-games would have taken place in a supermarket, so I was tasked with writing a short, loopable piece that would encapsulate the supermarket “vibe”. I returned to the MicroKorg, using an organ and high pad to compose this piece (I was actually thinking along the lines of Brighton Pier when I wrote this, but felt it fit the bill):

The feedback was positive, however Saran felt it was perhaps a little sleepy, and needed a beat to tighten it up. Rather than using a VST, I decided to pull out my brushes, hi-hat and snare and added a simple percussion track to it:

Finally, to give the track a real supermarket vibe, I put a convolution reverb on the master FX , using the impulse response of an old telephone, resulting in this:


Redecorating theme

Next up I composed a short piece for another mini-game which involved redecorating. Once again I returned to the MicroKorg for the initial sketch, and composed a very simple piece:

The piece went down ok, however shortly after this piece was written we agreed to move in a more organic direction (see below), so I rerecorded the piece using the newly agree-upon instrumentation ‘palate’ of Fender Rhodes, bass, percussion, and retained some of the original MicroKorg lines as embellishment (it was around this time I re-worked the intro piece in the same fashion):


“Bass Tick”

This piece was to be used in a scene where the protagonist is tormented by a cartoon demon, it evolved form an idle bass-line I has written some time ago, and is responsible for the change in direction from an “arcade-y” style to more organic instrumentation. It was written and recorded in a oneshot in around two hours and I am pretty pleased with it. Particularly with the percussion:

(The title makes me think of a giant tick (parasite not punctuation) playing bass – just where my mind goes to.)


RPG theme

Another part of the game was going to be a small RPG section. The brief called for something of a different tone entirely, something far more dramatic. I set out using a rudimentary cello and harp VSTs along with some banjo I recorded. The result was deemed to be a little off piste, and so I set it to one side:


Sleepy jam

The final piece I composed for the project was for a scene where someone is having trouble sleeping because of cramps. I used my Fender Rhodes and Mandocaster. I really dig what I came up with for this, and intend to use this as the basis for something more detailed (or at least longer) at a later date:



Although it’s a shame the project has been shelved for now, it was great to develop material in this way, allowing the brief to mutate as ideas solidified with different versions of tracks, and then using these versions to inform the brief. I also managed to develop and redevelop a bunch of material in a fairly short space of time, so all in all it was good practise with a decent enough outcome.

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