Getting Back Into Game Music

Two weeks ago, I started throwing around concept ideas with my older brother Alan for his game project. I don’t get to see him much anymore, and I was having an absolute blast talking games and sharing my interests with him on a professional level. As the time flew by during our discussion, something neat happened.

First and foremost, my brother is an artist – and a damn good one. He has one of those minds that work outside of the norm, and his abilities to see design, patterns, and detail before anything is even on the page/screen blows my mind. That being said, he’s very into artistic and aesthetic games, less about complicated mechanics and more about storyline, art scheme, and deeper meaning (a genre the world needs more of, I think). His project is called Bright Ghosts, an incredibly scenic and meditative mobile game about playing tag with spirits. As we were spitballing ideas, we got on the subject of sound effects. Out comes my laptop and GarageBand, and without thinking I began to write out melody lines and sound effects. Picking instruments, imagining specific game events, and trying to design atmospheric music ideas as we went along gave me a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time. After a few minutes of this, Alan tells me something along the lines of, “Ah, it’s so nice to finally have a music person here to bring out the ideas! James and I are never able to do too much on our own with sound stuff.” He’s got a programmer buddy named James, by the way.

When he said that to me, it re-sparked my excitement for writing music for games. It was such a weird combination of encouragement and flattery that I won’t easily forget for a long time. So thanks, Alan 🙂

So I decided to get to work. Played with GarageBand for another week or so, then found an FL Studio alpha build for Apple OS X and downloaded that immediately. Since then, I’ve been playing around with my little Akai MPK Mini midi board like a giddy child making all kinds of little beats and tunes.

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Of one of my first arranged pieces.

See, I’ve never really studied music writing. I am a musician, yes. Classical guitar lessons, band and chorus in high school, that kind of thing. But I’m not an experienced composer. The barrier to entry always seemed so high. I have friends and connections (s/o to Brigid) that have written for years, studied music in college, have been given awards for their skills, and other amazing feats that need to be congratulated. I always thought to myself, “these are the ones that are going to make it. They have the experience.” But after this, I’ve decided to simply not to give a damn and do it anyway! Yeah, I’m using built in samples. Yeah, I never studied composition or how to use these tools. And yeah, I’m still going to do it! I love music, I love music theory, and I’ve always wanted to write it. I’ll figure it out as I go, and take a musical elective or two while I’m in college.

Here’s to the shots in the dark we all take! May yours fly true.
🍻

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