cliches

Little Monsters, Giant Ideas

As work has progressed on music and sound design for Candy Catch (taking in to consideration my previous roadblock as well), things have managed to move pretty well. Making music for games is a little complex and takes a different kind of treatment than probably a movie or a video would.

You see, games are interactive. You push a button, move a control and suddenly the game is not the same anymore. There are different behaviours and patterns for every course of action that you take, and they constantly influence your position in the game. There are many more variables and constants than a movie would have, probably. Of course I'm not saying scoring for movies is easier, but it's different. I like to think of it as an a matrix of functions forming entire arrays that constantly interact and make changes in each other. It's like an orchestra of variables.

I predictably ended up making the Christmas theme track as a little bit of a derivative on the usual 'Jingle Bells' theme. I needed it to not look like straight up cut-and-paste debauchery, Hence a long process of constant refinement and modification of scales happened. It was an interesting thing to do. To sit with a bunch of scales and completely and utterly change the mood of an original track to suit your twisted needs. I felt like a butcher. It felt evil. It felt pretty good.

A musician's gotta do what he's gotta do. Even though the Christmas theme was not as subtle as I imagined it in my head, it fared fine as it was not the usual Christmas theme, there was something different. There were subtle elements of the halloween theme in there as well. Not as spooky though. Ah, the drastic difference a major into a minor and vice-versa can make to an entire song. Mind-blowing, to say the least.

After a snack break which consisted of binging on the usual potato chips and cookies, I got down to finally taking down the last brick in the wall, The opening song. Things seem much more easier once you're the past the two-track mark usually, and so it was. I had a giant folder full of half-recorded stems and elements from both the tracks. Some spooky, some sounded like Santa Claus himself.

There was more copy-cut-paste. Brutal modifications sufficed in extreme situations as well. I'm not the kind of guy who likes to hurry up with tracks and make them sound glued-together or disconnected. I hate that sort of thing. 1 am turned to 5 am and then afternoon, but the almost-done track was still not quite done yet. Even though most elements were borrowed from both tracks, I made sure I did a scale-change here and switched sounds here and there, just to give the track a refined touch. And now it's done. More cookies are in order.

God, I feel like a magician. Poof.

 
 

Back in The Jungle

It's been six months since I updated this blog. Been a while since I composed any music for movies/video. Finally, a new opportunity presented itself to me again today, and it seems like I'm back in business for the moment.

The same friend that contacted me the last time to work on his movie, came back in touch with me a few hours ago and he wanted me to work on music for another film. Now I was hoping it wouldn't be horror again, because frankly, making music for horror is completely draining. Sucks the life out of you. Because its more of a niche audience than a general one, the sound has to be different and unique so you have to work that much harder every time.

This time, though It's supposed to be a part romantic part-suspense thriller that starts in the midst of a jungle. Now I'm not really a mush fan, But the fact that it had an element of suspense to it got me interested again. And of course jungle means more African tribal beats and more experimentation. So experimentation ftw.

I pretty much knew what the first track was supposed to be like and I started working on something african and tribal as the producer/director wanted something like that and I guess that's only obvious since it's a jungle and there are a lot of different elements in play.

Now, I must say it had been a while since I worked on any ideas, in general and it seemed like rust had settled into my music-making abilities. I spent an entire day trying to conceptualise the entire jungle sequence in my head. The fact that lots of times you don't get any footage when you start working on music scores can be quite a crutch.

 
 
 

Nonetheless, I experimented quite a bit with african percussion. Downloaded tons of sample libraries and just experimented with compound times for a few hours. I didn't want the music to be too inaccessible, so I decided to make the intro a little more common-time, but I kept the setting heavily dramatic and made the track segue into an African beat in the last minute.

I spent so much time trying to dissect the African percussion it's not even funny. Couldn't really figure out the timing either. African music is very complex rhythm-wise, I've come to realise that.

Another thing I'm going to make sure this time around is that the music shouldn't seem disconnected. I will try to make the entire score as one giant track that fades in and out of different moods, something I haven't been able to do the previous time, while I was working on the horror movie. Ambitious, I know.

This music, however is supposed to be shorter and there are places where things are lighter, happier and even comical in a few places, and then there's action too. Not to mention the drama and suspense. It's brilliant actually to have so much moods packed in just about a twenty-minute movie, One wouldn't think that's even possible but somehow it works, I suppose.

It's Almost Halftime

It's been a gruelling few days as I keep working on the movie score for the horror film day and night. I've almost finished half the score, which seems like a pretty huge achievement to me.

The thought took me back to the concept of an 'Interval', a concept that seems central to plots of most Bollywood movies. It's usually at the half-time that most Hindi movies introduce their plot twist or the beginning of a climax. Intervals are pretty important to us Indians. Gotta get the popcorn, go pee, Update our Facebook status, talk to our friends or just sit and wait for the next half to begin.

 
 
 

It is this idea that brought me to the concept of a track idea for the movie score that I called 'Are You Scared Yet?'. There was definitely a giant twist in the climax as far as I could envision through the script, and I figured what else could be a good time to introduce a little scare here, and a little movement there than the half-time.

Now, horror movies are supposed to be scary, period. So I descended upon the piano roll of my Fruity Loops and set out to create a really abstract synth line which moved at twice the tempo and it was at 7/8. What was interesting was the fact that the synth line seemed to work in such a way, that instead of being 7/8, it started sounding like a normal 4-beat measure, something that I used to my advantage.

Other than that, it's mostly scares, thrills, spills and chills in a horror movie. A demonic sounding choir here and a little crafty synth coupled with a really heavy industrial-sounding beat is all you need, sometimes.