game music

Ambient Reworks + New Platforms

Plenty of good news to start with, this month. To sum up, I've been tampering with the idea of creating more music in the ambient realm, and a number of forthcoming releases will have those kinds of influences.

Also, I shall be trying out a number of new platforms to release some of my pre-existing music, some of it, reworked and remastered.

Transmitted Helena

I recently worked on an arrangement of the theme 'Dearest Helena' from the soundtrack to the video game Starcraft. Got inspired by weird, quirky vintage sounds from transistors and TV static. Think of it as what happens when a faulty radio from the 50's ends up in space.
Listen to it on Bandcamp / Spotify

 
 

Mountain Village

Doomy, dark and unsettling is how I would describe this track of mine that will be releasing on May 24th! Collaborated with Joshua Taipale on guitar on this arrangement, it's track 42 on the compilation. The entire compilation is full of cool new takes on music from game Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.

Pre-order here

 
 

Faceshop - Original Score

Earlier this month, I had the awesome privilege of working with New York / China based illustrator and animator Zhongwen Hu to create an original score for her short animated film 'Faceshop'.

Created painstakingly out of singular drawings and illustrations, and clocking at about five and a half minutes, the film is about a shop located in a mysterious street that can help people to achieve their dream faces by cutting and modelling.

 
 

ending one-liners:

  • Pulled out my 2014 single 'Daze Blue' from all stores, it's still available on Bandcamp & Soundcloud though. Also, it got played on a podcast.
  • I've put up a couple of tracks on Resonate & Choon, check out those two services, let me know what you think about them!

 

P.S. - Follow me on Spotify (if you still don't)
P.P.S - Discover my music before it all disappears off the internet (lol jk)

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Remixes, Aliases & The Future

The past couple of months have been a combination of exciting, busy punctuated with bursts of idleness and happy news. What's great is I've somehow kept myself busy through all of this. So here's a few tidbits of news and general going-ons:

 

Tinker Quarry

I have been working on the soundtrack for the game Tinker Quarry over the past few months, and I'm glad to say that I'm at a place where the soundtrack for the game is somewhat at the end of completion, hopefully more news will follow about it in the coming months, about the game and the music.

In the meanwhile, you can find the game on Steam , it's currently in early access

 

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Meta HTML

As the aftermath of working on some pretty cool things on the Tinker Quarry Soundtrack, I've found myself dabbling with more genres like Industrial, Chiptune and Synthwave . Going to be working on a few remixes of music by other artists, as well as some of my own original stuff under a new alias I've invented for myself called Meta HTML

To start off, I remixed the absolute banger of a tune by Karan Kanchan called 'Kendo' and you can find it below

 

 
 
 

What's Next?

In the works: Hopefully, another video game soundtrack release in 2019, scores for a couple of films, an animated short and maybe even more. Drama, comedy and mysterious magicians punctuated with the odd dissonant, screaming violin. 

Stay tuned, folks!

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A Short Update!

Alright, it's almost the end of 2017, so it's about time to put an update out here, I thought.

I have been at work on a number of projects over the past year, some of them will slowly come to light as we go knee-deep into 2018!

I worked on a remix of the Wizpig Challenge theme from the Diddy Kong Racing game, it's out on the newest release by Materia Collective

You should check it out here

Also, I've spent quite some time re-working my website, simplifying it, complicating it and shifting it around. Hope you like the new look

Oh, also one more thing. Did I mention there's a new video of an orchestral recording I worked on from 2015? Yeah, that. You can check it out here

To conclude, watch out there's a lot more coming! Remixes, videos, music releases and some of those sweet, sweet music scores you can't find on the internet

Not All Binary!

Humans are a complex species. Some of us want to find patterns in everything, others perhaps want to elude these patterns at every chance they get. But we ALL find a pattern sooner or later, don't we? I like to keep things random in my general day-to-day life. I think a part of it stems from trying to be creative. I have this idea that if you keep doing the same things at the same times and inside the same cycles, you eventually stop getting new ideas. I'm not sure how strong a holding that idea has in actual psychology or social science but I'm sure there is some merit to it.

I recently picked up a book on Game Design, a field that I feel is going to matter more and more to people from different fields as gaming as a medium gets more prominent with the passing of years (Apparently Spotify just started an entire section exclusively dealing with game music). How does a music composer / sound designer get all mixed up with game design, you shall probably ask. I think music and games have historically and perception-wise a lot more things common to them, than you can imagine, so in a way I feel that it's natural. The real reason, though is that last year when I went to Indiecade, I was inspired by a variety of different talks that touched on the topic of game design. That eventually led me to an online game design book club, where people read a book on game design every month, and speak on their views about it.

Long things short, a friend gave me an interesting idea for a possible app / game which fed into me seeing many parallels between musical development and how games are developed. All of this happened reading this month's book on that discussion group which happened to be A Theory of Fun by Raph Koster.

 
 

It was a fun read, as it mostly dissects the idea of fun, what constitutes activities that are fun and aren't. Some of it could probably be interesting literature for algorithmic music creation. What I liked about the book was that it gives a lot of different perspectives - psychologically, socially and at times talking on even evolutionary terms in the sense of how games started out and how they've evolved over the past few decades.

There's quite a lot of points that actually mention music-making. Now, there are different levels of controls and restrictions players have in games but it pits that against how different kinds of music-creation could be classified under the same table. There are definitely are some fascinating thought collisions that happened to me while I was reading it. In the spirit of keeping this blog post shorter, I shall refrain from discussing it further. (you can join the club here). You could probably go here and here to learn more about game design and it's various intricacies (in case that's your thing)

 
 

Moving on, I'm going to harp once more on the concept of curation and how integral it is going to become in the larger scheme of things. A friend started using this new platform that goes by the name of Soundgood. I decided to follow suit and convert an old playlist to a Soundgood playlist. You shall find all kinds of experimental / electronic / chill music if that's what you're into. Another thought experiment with curation - I've lately noticed that people that do more reposts on Soundcloud tend to get more active plays, listens and follows. Having started my Soundcloud originally just to keep my own tunes there, I'm considering breaking that rule and going crazy with reposts.

Soundcloud closed down Groups recently, which probably was one of the first horns of collapse that I sense coming to the music industry as a whole. I might be wrong, I might be right. If there's one thing I don't understand it's why they closed Groups. They were probably great for getting your music across, but I definitely could think of better ways to get music out there. If anything, I've realised platforms evolve and so does music distribution and the several other cogs in the "machine" so to speak. Anarchy rules everything, eventually. (Open-sourcing of media and hacking culture might have to do something to do with all of this 'disruption')

 
 

Between dabbling with playlists and their curation, trying to understand more about game design and going off on tangents about hacking, music work has been slow but steady. Lots of track reveals are scheduled for September, and I look forward to them. In the meanwhile, I have been scoping out more work for short films and video games. I might start working on a new video game soon, but that news is probably still far off in the distance (maybe another 2 weeks?)

Creativity takes time, folks. It is what it is. It's a risky business. Sometimes you end up at the right place, at the right time. At other times, everything might be exactly where you expected it to be but things would still not work out. It's not at all binary. Sometimes you make a huge mistake and fuck up things. Most of the times, it leads to a torrential shit-storm. At other times, a spark you didn't quite expect. I have found myself working on music related to time, twice this year and it's a fascinating coincidence. The first time, I knew exactly what the client wanted and it didn't quite turn out the way I expected it to. The second time, the opposite happened. I think creativity is not an easy bird to catch. It takes a lot of time, patience, perseverance and self-control and very rarely do all the variables work exactly as planned, So the gist of it - I made a mistake while I was sequencing some music, and I stuck with it. Why? Because strangely, it stuck and went well with what was needed.

Moral of story - make more mistakes, fail a bunch of times and you actually learn more than you realise. With the extremely large amount of focus placed these days on music, art and aesthetics to be somehow "perfect". I think artists need to fail more frequently at what they do. We learn more about things when we fail, as opposed to when we do them perfectly. Not to say that one should intentionally fail. But learn with mistakes every time we make them. The learning slope is exponentially increasing while the grasping power of people - not as much. Eventually the machines will kick in. Knowing how to code and program will take an even stronger front-seat than what has been felt so far.

Hence, I dug into some code the past week or two. (write a poem. Type enter once to go to the next line, and type enter twice to end the poem and voila! something happens)

 
 

So, some time back a strange request was pulled up by a person I knew. They wanted to convert a poem to binary, and wanted me to help them do it. For a while, I thought hard and went back to my old engineering books to try and figure out how that was possible. Eventually, I came to the point where I felt that converting entire poems to binary would take a lot of time, manually. So, I wrote a program. While this could have been just doable in C++, I decided to take the opportunity to dive into the mighty Python programming language and gain some street cred, or in other words "coding cred". Turns out, it's probably a lot more easier to do many things in Python as compared to doing them in C++. The more you know, I guess. While I seemed to have grasped the basics fast enough. There still remains the problem of turning boring python code into something more eye-catching and visual on the front-end. That led me to things like Django and Flask, which so far seems to be a bit confusing to navigate. But more on that later. More bots, HTML and web scripting incoming too, hopefully. A lot of different things, and then there's always the music.

ow, let's see if I can reverse-engineer this binary code extract. (there's a hint somewhere, I'm sure of it!)

01010000 01100001 01110011 01110011 01101001 01101111 01101110 00100000 01100111 01101111 01100101 01110011 00101100 00100000 01100010 01101111 01110010 01100101 01100100 01101111 01101101 00100000 01110010 01100101 01101101 01100001 01101001 01101110 01110011 00001010 01000011 01101111 01100011 01101111 00100000 01000011 01101000 01100001 01101110 01100101 01101100
 
 

Simple Movements, Complicated Times

The past month has been quite the whirlwind, working on all sorts of different projects and seeking out opportunities is all part and parcel of my day's work with its ups and downs. This month, I finally started a slow roll-out of tracks that I have been working on since the start of the year. While I might have talked about some of them so far, the idea behind some of those sometimes get lost and forgotten about, as I steadily hop from one project to the next. Hopefully, I'll be able to talk some more about it as time passes by.

A demo of a video game I made music for just rolled out a couple of days ago. You can get the download from here. It won't really work for a Mac right now, but if you're a Windows person, go get it! You might also need to get RPG Maker 2003 to run this, but I would love to hear any feedback you might have for the music in the game or otherwise. 

Moving on, I've also been dabbling with chip-tune heavily and I found some seriously nice software to make 8-bit and 16-bit music. This blog right here made it much more easier for me to navigate the interesting underground community of people that are heavily into Chiptune and woah, my mind was blown looking at the sheer amount of depth in that genre. For the uninitiated, the Chiptune genre is a genre of music where people try and emulate the music of  thegames of yesteryears or the glorious sounds of the 80s and 90s that are completely personified in the chips that were used with game consoles like the NES, SNES, Commodore 64 and many others. Getting the news earlier this week that the NES was making a come back, I'm fairly confident that Chiptune is going to see quite a big revival in the coming year. Having been to Indiecade last year, I still remember hearing heavy influences of the genre in a few acts that I heard there and I was nothing short of blown away.

 
 

From the perspective of music, this month has been liberating in the sense that there are things I've worked on that really pushed me towards different directions - directions that about two years ago seemed like frightening prospects to me. Mostly making a living off scoring short films and videos, it was only natural that I would be asked to do music that is more in the vain of western classical music. This kind of music always comes across to me as something that needs a very specific vision. Sometimes, people look for the typical 'epic' sounding music that has become very widespread in things like movie trailers or contemporary film. While at the surface, it does seem like all fluff and no substance when people ask for that sort of style, I've come to realise that every single time, the output is slightly different. Despite its name, even epic trailer-like music doesn't have one-size-fits-all generalisation. Perhaps that's what I like about the music projects I take up.  They give me earlier-unknown music identities to develop, create and evolve. It's like not waking up every day and having to eat the same old banana pie, but the flavours completely change.

One such example where I did something completely new for me music composition-wise back in March was a track called 'My Moon'. Written as a main theme for a video game 'Dark Sanctuary' under development, what was perhaps interesting was not the output but rather, the input I was given - A flute track that the game designer had themselves composed. While the quality of the flute track was patchy at best, what really took me on a ride about the track in particular was the fact that the presence of echo in the track. At first, the flute melody did not seem to be 4/4 at all, which led me to creating a number of abstract time changes throughout the track, which presented its own set of complications and challenges. Eventually the realisation dawned on me that what was happening was that the melody was trying really hard to not be 4/4 but when in fact it was exactly that. Having caused a strange back-and-forth in the entire arrangement due to my initial assumption, the combination of things slightly swaying back and forth while the time signature stayed constant provided for an interesting dynamic in the composition.

 
 

Clearly, it seems that every single project that I work on asks for a completely distinct and different music style that varies immensely from the last. While the music for Asgeirr has been intensely minimal to say the least with the usage of FM sounds and a slightly off-beat percussive style, the music for Dark Sanctuary on the other hand asked for something very different in terms of how its development was approached. Music for fantasy is a whole different monster as compared to music that is chiptune or FM synth-based.

hen of course, there are Twitterbots.

An Afterthought
As the AI Revolution marches through, the major thought on my mind about it these days seems to be - how much more time before working composers and music producers get replaced by machines too? If companies like Jukedeck and Filmstro are to be believed - not that much. While most music folks in today's age and times seem to be up in arms about it, mentioning things like 'real emotional quotient' and 'the human touch', I don't really see much of two ways about it. To me, honestly - In the future, people that could perhaps harness AI and machine learning and use it as an element working for their music (as opposed to working against it) would be a lot better off. Which is why I have been seriously mulling over what kind of programming project I should take up next. And it's probably important to my future. While I have tried expanding in the past towards more interesting fields like sound design and audio programming. I have no doubt, that even those things could be taken over by an 'intelligent machine' in the future. Just food for thought.

Where do we go from here? I should probably get back to producing my newest track. And leaving the bots to themselves. In the meanwhile...keep your eyes focused on my 'other' Soundcloud

P.S. - Following the interesting nucl.ai Conference happening in Prague right now. Some very interesting developments in AI happening there. 

A New Update

Many new incoming updates! Once again, it might seem that I have been inactive on the blogosphere owing to the constant back-and-forth I seem to be having with Weebly and certain issues that plague me. Honestly, giving a thought to moving over to Squarespace. More about that later (new alternative website in-the-works maybe?)

The past few months have seen me working on a wide variety of projects that to name a few, included writing music for a radio show, dabbling with 80s synthpop in this jam game for Ludum Dare Jam 35 and developing an audio demo for a new Serum sound-pack. There are of course many more projects in the works, and rest-assured I will get to speaking more about them as time progresses and more things come to light. In case you like podcasts and listening to them is your thing, don't forget to check out the recent podcasts by The State of Gaming where some of my music got used.

This post is mostly going to be talking about key highlights of my work in the past couple of months, we will get to the more interesting parts later. In case horror and horror literature is what fascinates you, there's also a short story I finally put out on my Wordpress page which complements the music recording I composed, conducted and produced for 51-piece orchestra last year. You could read more about the process and thinking that went behind it here on the blog itself.

I realise that the world is getting smaller and the ideas are getting bigger, causing changes bigger in scale than ever before in history. We're in a very interesting time in the course of civilisation. The internet is a powerful medium that has perhaps caused and triggered a lot of these changes. While there's a positive side to all of this, there's also a negative side. Security breaches, information leaks and 'encryption wars', the need for instant gratification, the rise of big data/its exploitation and of course the classic pet peeve - drastically reduced attention spans (Check out my Tumblr for more frequent posts if you need more updates regularly about the going-ons in my life)

Perhaps all of this has also had an impact on artists, thinkers and the creative community as a whole, which has given rise to alternative approaches to how content is produced, presented and distributed. Perhaps, greater change will come in this field in the few years to come. I would perhaps choose to embrace change rather than stay routed in 'the old way' and how things were done before. As an artist, you either change with the times or you disappear. Talking about changes and how much they matter for the future, I'll sign off urging you to go sign this petition as I believe it's important for the future of music and it's fair use.

Smarter and Smarter

Re-imagining the entire score for Smartican from the start was something that was really hard to do. Primarily, this was because I had to go against the initial vision I had for the score for the game. It did not have anything to do with specifications or what was needed but rather what I felt about the score. I wanted it to be a little different from the previous revision. And there were pro's and con's to that train of thought.

For one, since I had made up my mind that the score was going to have lesser of electronic influences, I had to go back to the traditional sound, A more orchestral-oriented score which meant I had to put more stress on melody. Something I realised later on, though was orchestral scores can fit into a quizzical game, but it's probably better to keep things more electronic-influenced. Nonetheless, I had committed myself to getting out of the comfort zone and started working on the score.

I worked on the score for almost a month. It was a constant process of iterations and corrections. There were atleast twenty different ideas that were considered before arriving at the choices for the levels. There were a lot of levels in the game and every one needed to have a different track. Inspiration is very important when you're working on a score and I needed to think about the surroundings and the mood for every level. Doing that was just as important as working on the music itself.

There would be some times when how things panned out in my head about a certain mood and setting wouldn't exactly translate well onto the run-time environment. Things were much more dynamic and ideas were in constant flux. There came a certain point of time when I realised going back-and-forth between my home studio and the game studio was starting to become a daily habit. I decided to spend a couple of days at the game studio itself to work things out.

Once I decided to that, things did start to move a little faster. As the needs were constantly changing and so was the game and it was important for everyone to look at the same page at the same time, so we could collectively arrive at what would be the best set of sounds for the game. I had to make tons of changes to my tracks so that things better fit with the visual idea of the game.

While some times, I didn't like changing my work to fit the game, I slowly realised that even though it would feel weird in the beginning, while playing the game and looking at it as a whole, it would in fact make more sense. I broadened my horizons considerably and looked the other way to see what a game really requires not just in terms of sound and music, but also other things like graphics, promotions, visuals etc. as well. It was a great learning experience.

When I sit and think about it I realise we musicians are sometimes like little kids in a candy store. We always want one or the other, but somewhere in our heads we know having all of them at the same time is not logical. As we grow up and become more rational, we realise that there's more to life than just candy and we learn to start letting go of all that was, and we evolve. We get smarter and smarter, but the smarter we get the more we realise what being that kid in a little candy store means. To not have a worry in the world, to just imagine with a head full of ideas and the entire universe in front of you.

That feeling is all I live for.

Create & Destroy

As with any great idea, Finishing it up is never really the end of it. After finishing my score for the game I was working on, I went and met up with the good people at Motion Punch Studios and they seemed to like the music. After finalising it and deciding upon the kinds of sounds they required for FX and in-game scenes, I went back home that day and sent them everything they needed. Things were finally done.

This was not the end, though. About one and a half month later, they got in touch with me again. Apparently, the entire game had been renovated and changed from the top-bottom completely. It was an absolutely new game. It also seemed to be much better-looking graphics-wise and interactive quotient seemed to be higher. It was time to destroy the old and come out with the new.

With a heavy heart and a sad face, I went back home and started working on the new score. I realised that life isn't always fair and things don't always turn out the way you expect them to. Nothing really seems to be coming to my mind, so I decided to write this little blog post down.

Ah, life you witty lil' bitch you.

An Orchestra of Variables

After my first meeting with the guys at Motion Punch Studios, I came home and started working on some preliminary ideas for the music score. Since there are only three tracks in that game, It was not going to be very hard, I thought. One had to be for the Start Screen, another for the Halloween Theme and the other for The Christmas theme.

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Now, Since I'm much better at making creepy music than tracks with joyous spirit, I decided to approach the Halloween theme first. I went through a few sounds and came across a few organ sounds on my computer but nothing really seemed to fit the bill. I then proceeded to look through some of the organ sounds I had on my Kawai CP 115, and found one particular sound that was exactly what I was looking for. It was a spooky organ more close to a theater organ than a church one.

Working on what was going to be the central melodic motif to the entire three songs was a hard task as well. What's weird while you're composing music is you never know what will end up being the central melody or sound that everything else is based on. There is always a central theme or a melody to any music that makes the backbone of a track and everything else either drives or supports it sonically. Sometimes it will be subtle and in the background and sometimes it will take up centre-stage and the entire sonic space.
 

 
 

Predictably, the first few notes that I composed on the Kawai and recorded into my computer were what would constitute the main theme. As time passed by, I slowly built up a percussion track around it from a groovebox VST that I use a lot, which was followed by other minor and orchestral elements, A harpsichord there, a little bit of flute here and a little pizzicato string to make things more playful. There was also this jingly-jangly guitar which was made to go through a 'vibrolo' effect to add a creepy vibe.

Originally, clocking at about five minutes the track was too long to fit into the mobile app, so I had to shorten it to about two minute and add numerous FX lke bat screeches and shaking skeletons to make it more halloween-ish. Typical stuff.

I'm yet to work on the other two tracks. Long week ahead.

Making Your Own Way

ife is all about making your own way. Often, things might not work out the way you wanted or expected it to. At times like these, it always helps to adapt and expand, or try new things. There have been lots of times when I don't do any project for months. It's partly because there was no work

The thing about work is, most of the times you don't get work. It doesn't just fall into your lap. You have to go look for it, and try finding it. That's the only way you can continually expand and there is no other way to it.

Something similar happened around December last year. The two months before hadn't been particularly fruitful in terms of work and challenges. I decided to scourge the Internet for some work. I got plenty of leads, there was no dearth of opportunities. But most of them wouldn't get me much. After tirelessly going through postings on the Internet for a few days, I finally arrived at one in an Internet forum. It was about a game studio looking for somebody who could provide music and sound for their games. I quickly jotted down their E-mail.

 
 

I sent them a couple of mails and I got a reply that said they were, indeed looking for someone. Even though I showed them a sample of all my work and told them about my previous experience, they sent me a small visual and asked me to make music for it, as a trial.

A few days after sending the trial music, The studio got in touch with me. They liked the music I made and decided they'd give me the opportunity to score music for their next game.

Win scenes.