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Memoirs of a Videogame Music Composer 56

kukyfrope writes "GameDaily has conducted an in-depth interview with videogame composer Jesper Kyd (Hitman, Freedom Fighters). They discuss what it takes to be a composer, what inspires him, how he comes up with new ideas for his projects, and about the current 'generic' state of music in most games. 'I am not interested in writing music that is disposable or that doesn't touch people in some way. I try to write music I would want in the game as a gamer, so if I am happy with my music I know I am doing something right.'"
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Memoirs of a Videogame Music Composer

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  • Brilliant (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Flizesh ( 775141 )
    I knew as soon as I read the title of the article that it would be about Jesper Kyd. His music is amazing and fits the mood perfectly for games like Hitman. There's some tracks of his on his website []
    • You're telling me that "The Fatman" George Sanger [] didn't cross you're mind?! Sacrilege! From his first work on Duncan's Thin Ice (an old Intellivision game) to his crowning achievement on Wing Commander, The Fatman singlehandedly made video game music important! I purchased a Sound Blaster just so I could hear the Wing Commander music that everyone was raving about. (I wasn't disappointed.) I know I'm not the only one. :)
      • The fatman track for 7th Guest really made it worth having a sound card that could do roland emulation. It was nothing less of omfg.

        For consoles, FF* with music from the now-independent Nobuo Uematsu (with his company Smile Please) is the definintive composer of game music in my mind.
        • You have to mention Koji Kondo when it comes to video game music. By the way, is Koji Kondo working on the music for Super Smash Bros. Brawl? Is Nobuo Uematsu doing more music for the game, or just the title track? I'm hoping the game's music is awesome. Fully orchestrated, and with a Latin chorus.
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:29PM (#15456293) Homepage
    The music in a game can make a huge difference in how fun the game is. The good games (metroid prime comes to mind), draw you in with the right music, playing the right music at the right time. Other games just take music from top 40 rock bands and call that a sound track. In some games this works well, but in others, it works terribly. Music doesn't usually make or break a game, but it can be the difference between a good game, and a great game. And it's not quality that matters, but music that fits the mood of the game. I'd much rather have crappy midi music than high quality CD music if the Midi music created better atmosphere.
    • I used to half like ACDC's TNT. But now the Tony Hawk series has ruined it.
    • I can't remember the last time I actually listened to the in-game music, I generally turn it off and play my own CDs to match the type of game I'm playing. Now everytime I listen to Sneaker Pimps I keep flashing back to the water levels of Super Mario 64! Of course for SM64, the game music was still playing, just very low volume (I don't recall if it could be turned off altogether)
      • Same here. 99% of video game music is genuinely awful, and the other 1% gets tiresome with the amount of repeated listenings typical game-play requires.

        Shutting off music is right up there with tweaking your video preferences and keyboard shortcuts on the list of things to do shortly after trying out a new game.
    • I don't play games for their music- in fact, I always turn it off if there's an option for it. I'd rather have my mp3 collection cranked in the background.
      • I think it depends on what sort of game you're playing. For example, Project Zero(or Fatal Frame, for those outside the UK) was one of the scariest game experiences I've ever had. Something tells me playing it with Britney Spears on in the background instead of the game's own atmospheric scores would have greatly reduced the fear factor of the game. It's the same with FPSs, I always play better with the in-game music because my own music tends to just distract me from the atmosphere of the game.

        With sports

    • My favorite game music titles:

      Ultima III for Commodore 64
      Ultima IV for Commodore 64
      Unreal - the first one for Windows
      American McGees Alice for Windows

      And for some reason, Bubble Bobble and Dr. Mario are highly infectious and addictive.
    • I'd much rather have crappy midi music than high quality CD music if the Midi music created better atmosphere

      Definitly. Two words : Doom II (Pitfall! II and SimCity 2000 are good examples as well)

      • How about Final Fantasy VII? It sounded so great on my SB32 AWE that it took me a long time to actually realize that I was listening to MIDI. I knew that it was MIDI, but it just didn't seem to register. Must be the best MIDI music I've ever heard.
  • Danny Elfman [] the former front man for Oingo-Boingo, singing voice of Jack and soundtrack from Nightmare Before Christmas, has done ton's of movies and game sound tracks including parts of: Kingdom Hearts, Fable, and the Simpsons games. He's been on many more game sound tracks that aren't apparently listed on IMDB. The man is a musical genius.

  • Evil Genius had a very fun soundtrack. Most of the tracks were really good. I remember looking for the music for the game [] to listen to outside of the game because of how good it was. It's very "spy movie" (specifically James Bond-ish) and a lot of fun.
  • Another interview (Score:4, Informative)

    by deltagreen ( 522610 ) on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:51PM (#15456513) Homepage
    Gamespy recently had an interview with another composer, Jeremy Soule [].
    • The music for Total Annihilation was fantastic. Interestingly enough (if you were playing multiplayer and had quorum cds) if you dropped in the soundtrack to Conan the Barbarian, it synchronized really well with the gameplay of TA. :)

  • TFA goes into what divides game music from film music, but I've always felt the best game music has usually had pretty much the same qualities going for it as the best film music. It compliments what's going on in the story at that point, it has a recognizable personality that ties it to the game, and manages to touch you in the right emotional ways during the right bits of the action. The best of the best is also listenable on its own, but doesn't try to be the star of the show and overshadow the game wh
    • Stop laughing, dammit! Who among the 8-bit generation doesn't remember how awesome it was to grab a starman and hear the invincibility theme for the first time, or didn't get even slightly spooked by the underworld music?)

      No laughing here. The overworld theme to Legend of Zelda is a brilliant piece of music that manages to sum up the entire feel of the game. I actually get shivers down my spine when I hear it, and I'm not ashamed to admit that the acapella version of it from that omnipresent video of a
      • Definitely! Zelda's one I left out, but it's another classic which did things with the NES' audio that people fressh off Atari 2600, Colecovision, and the like wouldn't have thought possible.

        And I do love that video.

  • Sierra & Lucasarts always put a lot of attention to their sound tracks, and relied on music as a mood setter in their games. They really were pioneers in that area.

    Of course, music has always been important to the succcess of games. Hubbard sold a lot of games for the C64 simply because he was credited as the games musician (anyone remember the theme to M.U.L.E.? :).

    • Sierra's claim to fame in my opinion was they were first to support sound cards with King's Quest IV. This alone started to create the notion of a custom "gaming PC" market that existed seperately from how computers were normally sold and marketted.

      Along these lines Sierra was really pushing the limits of disk based distribution, and as such probably were a major factor in creating demand for CD-ROM.

      Also don't forget Origin.. The Wing Commander was another rather cinema-meets-games breakthrough and WC2 bro
      • Yeah, Sierra was so frustrated about the lack of soundcards in the mainstream PCs at the time that they started offering "inexpensive" sound cards to go with their games (in as much as Roland sound cards ever were inexpensive).

        Origin was also huge - there's no denying that. Ultima, Wing Commander, the Tex Murphy series, Ultima Underworld -- how could you go wrong? Great stuff indeed.

    • I downloaded a NES emulator just so I could play M.U.L.E... love that game and soundtrack!
  • by vhold ( 175219 ) on Friday June 02, 2006 @03:22PM (#15456852)
    I think music is even more important in video games the further you go back.

    Of all the tools available to early game developers, music I really think was the most developed because the essence of a good tune comes through with virtually any technology that can at least play a tone.

    Just start remembering your old favorite games, at least with me what I always remember first is the music.
    • Just start remembering your old favorite games, at least with me what I always remember first is the music.
      I agree! What seems to be the most re-mixed, re-played, instantly recognizable game tune?

      Super Mario Bros!

    • Ever since I first heard it something like 15 years ago, I have really enjoyed the music from the "Sonic the Hedgehog" series. Many of those melodies are very memorable, and hearing them today brings to my recollection late nights playing the games... trying to beat Dr. Robotnik... munching on mixed nuts and Chinese food...

      I even occasionally find myself playing on the piano fragments from the music for Hydrocity Zone (Act 2) in Sonic 3. :-)

      To whoever wrote that fabulous music, many thanks indeed!
    • I remember Buckner and Garcia, [] myself. ;-)
  • I'm going through an audio technician graduate course right now which also deals with elements of composition. I really want to get into game soundtrack composition and production. I would have to say my two earliest influences were Kemco's "Shadowgate" and "Uninvited", specifically the versions for the NES. Hearing that music pulled me into the game far more than I ever thought possible. Other favorites (soundtrack wise, at least) were Zelda 2, Ninja Gaiden 2, Double Dragon 2 (wow...enough sequels?), and o
  • When you talk about game music, you have to mention Akira Yamaoka, the genius behind the awesome soundtracks of the four Silent Hill games.

    If you don't know him, go on, google it, hear it, and form an opinion. Changes are that you'll love it to bits.

  • Silents (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Liked his music better back in the Silents days.

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire