ENTRY #9

JANUARY 19TH 2018

Welcome back! Since the new year, I've been working on a few things; updating the layout of this here website, learning more about how to customize drum beats, and learning how to create interactive music systems using Wwise by Audiokinetic.

For the website, what's new is: a small font change and a slight tint to the overall colour palette; the home page now includes features tracks (Horror, Pastiches, 8-Bit, & Scifi tracks for now); the URLs no longer include "index.php" and instead have a cleaner /portfolio and /blog; the blog page now features only the most recent three entries, with individuals pages for each entry plus a box in the upper-right hand corner with links to all entries; and a "continue reading" option for the featured entries. What I still plan to update is a newer, more relevant photograph of myself on the home page, at a piano and/or at my workstation.

 

After looking at many other online composer profiles, Antoine Van Lierde's website stands out to me as an example of the "look" and layout I'd like to go for. I like how it shows off his current projects, varied examples of his work, his experience and services offered, and nice images of him and his work station. So more changes are to come as I pursue a design and aesthetic in that vein.

This month's task on my composition agenda is to write various cues that could be found in film/tv/video games, such as Lovers Reunite, Villain Triumphant, Whimsical Prank, Mourning Song, Relentlessly Carefree, and Chase Scene. I began with Chase Scene, as I imagined it with a heavy use of percussion, and making electronic and/or MIDI percussion sound good is something I've struggled with, so I knew I needed to get past that. After watching a few tutorial videos and experimenting a bunch, I've learned a lot about how better to go about creating drum loops in Ableton. Here is my first venture into a high-energy Chase Scene cue, titled "Space Chase": 

As this is my first attempt, I'm looking forward to experimenting loads more with percussive sounds. However, for now I'll move on to the next cues on the list in order to have a few to show by the end of the month.

So I've also been learning how to use Wwise, one of the leading "middleware" softwares used in the game industry for interactive sound and music implementation in games. Wwise makes it way easier for composers to engineer dynamic music systems without needing to know heavy amounts of game code. 

At this point I've written quite a lot of material for Enthusiast Games' VR game Gravitas (which has actually been renamed to "Never Bound"), a gravity-shifting first-person shooter game. In game music, two of the common ways to implement music dynamically are the "vertical" approach (re-orchestration), where layers of the same musical segments are stacked vertically and re-orchestrated depending on how they're configured, and the "horizontal" approach (re-sequencing), where various musical tracks (such as verse, chorus, bridge) re-sequenced in a dynamic way. More complex music systems may use a combination of both these techniques, plus whatever other ingenious method(s) of interactive music can be thought of and executed!

So what I've been working on recently is creating a music system in Wwise that changes musical states as the player changes gravitational planes. Essentially, I've come up with a harmonic cycle of sorts that modulates each time the player triggers a gravitational shift ("falling" to another plane such as the wall or the ceiling). The cycle begins in A minor, and can shift between F, D, B♭, G, and C (six harmonic states for the six gravitational planes). In each harmonic state, the same set of themes will play, with some minor variants and flavour. 

In any case, I'm still quite early in this process but having a lot of fun doing it. After much toiling my first minor "breakthrough" came when I successfully configured four harmonic states that could be cycled through, and assigned a crossfade transition that occurs at bar's end when a shift is triggered. After fleshing this out a bit more the next step will be to create a system using predominantly percussive elements for the battle music, which can also react to the player's health and to enemy appearances/behaviour.

Thanks for reading! More to come in the way of musical cues by the end of the month.