Computer-Music.com contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music. Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com

Computer-Music.com  contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music.
Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com



 

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Begin With A Strong Foundation

Try to begin each new composing project by asking yourself "what are the questions I need to answer before I can begin composing?" Once you have a list of these questions, start looking for ways to answer as many of them as possible. Some can be answered with a little thought, whereas others require some research.

I have hired researchers on several of my projects. For one game I had to write authentic music to fit many different historical time periods. In that case I hired a professor of music history to compile a series of recorded examples representative of the music I would be trying to imitate. I also spent a lot of time quizzing him on the most important aspects of the music of each time period and the instrumentation involved. For Interactive Magicís American Civil War, I hired someone well versed in early American instruments, fife & drum corps and brass bands. For that project I also recorded a professional musician playing samples from a number of instruments representative of that time period.

In that particular situation, one of the questions was "Should I compose music that would be present in the indicated situation, or should I compose music to describe the situation emotionally?" For example, soldiers marching off to war might be accompanied by a brass band playing uplifting tunes of the period. But in a movie, the accompanying music might be very sad and sentimental, or foreboding. Of course the age of your audience can play a big part in how you decide to convey emotions in a game.

Upon questioning, producers may reveal that they have in mind a particular feel for the game's world that you might be able to enhance with the right musical style. Although this is usually expressed in their choice of you rather than another composer, it may not always occur to the producer that there is a lot of room to change musical styles to fit the graphical or narrative style of the game. In cases where the producer has already specified a particular style, it is always good to ask yourself if you agree with his choice. If you disagree and can give a convincing argument for your view, then you may not only help to improve the game but earn more respect from the producer. The more helpful you are at the outset, the more creative freedom you are likely to be given as the project progresses.

As with any creative endeavor, more questions can lead to more answers that lead to still more questions. But the more answers you can gather together, the more the music is likely to take shape before you have written a single note. You may want to spend as much as a quarter to half of your time budget on formulating and answering these questions so that composing will proceed smoothly and you can avoid any false starts.

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