I’m going to take you through the the major milestones in one of the major tracks I’ve been working on for my latest project. The first milestone is the creation of a rough draft. Finished idea is a more appropriate name; semi-finished idea is probably the best name. Next is the let’s fix what’s wrong with the original idea phase. And the final stage is the this is as far as I can take this idea phase.
1. Semi-Finished Idea.
This track is the original concept for this song. I wanted it to be a lighthearted dance in 3/4 with a heavy waltz feel to it. I promised non-musical language, didn’t I? The 3/4 just means that the music has a bounce to is and you can tap your foot while counting 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this track, it misses the mark slightly and leans strongly into more somber and serious territory. This especially evident right around the two minute (2:00) mark. The strings and horns have long strong notes that brings down the liveliness of the track making it much more dramatic than dance-like.
2. Let’s Fix What’s Wrong.
This track focused on lightness and really bringing that out. If we go back the the real problem area at the two minute mark. We can hear that I have reduced the amount of those long notes and have also pulled back on the volume of them. In addition I have changed the violins melody and embellished a good deal making it faster and less predictable in this area. The result was a much lighter song that arrives much closer to the original concept. It was still a bit to heavy, but that has more to do with the rest of the song which is addressed in the next version.
3. This is as Far as I Can Take This.
One this to not in the previous two versions is how repetitive they are. The main violin part repeats over and over again and only changes near the end. With this type of music, that is a hard thing to hear. Especially when we consider that this song will loop endlessly throughout hours of gameplay. After talking with my orchestrator, J. Michael St. Clair, I had a clear idea of how to fix the mindless repetition. The first thing we discussed was changing the melody sooner, which I do now after the first time it plays completely through, instead of 3 minutes into the track. Next, I added a major change that both expands the song and cleans the aural palette so that when we hear that dance-ee part again, it’s even more dance-ee and light and refreshing. I want the listener to say, “Oh yay! It’s back!”, instead of, “Not this crap again.”
It’s true that this track is a bit heavier in parts than was originally intended, but that’s partly due to the fact that the idea morphed as the project progressed. The tracks as they are now, are more like overtures with various themes (or major musical event) that will recur throughout the development process of this game. I’m certain I’ll use the ideas in this song several more times for the game to give the player a more intimate experience. He or she can hear similar musical events that create a sense of familiarity for them, which can be a subconscious comfort when working on a difficult section of the game.