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  • Interview: Mick Gordon

    - Darren Yeow

  • 7:00am - I quickly throw some oats, water, soy milk and a bit of butter into a pot and turn up the heat to make some breakfast while I go through my list of what to do today.

    7:30am - I find a new video from THQ waiting for me of this new level and I watch through it a couple of times with a notebook making notes as to where I think it needs music, what sort of music would suit, ideal lengths and styles of the different tracks, etc.

    ...Is that the smell of my porridge burning? Oops!

    8:00am - I've got the level mapped out on paper and I start eating my burnt porridge while I wait for my template to load.

    A scoring "template" is basically a whole bunch of "virtual instruments" that make writing and producing music quite easy, especially on a deadline.

    A virtual instrument is basically where someone has recorded, say for example, every single note on a Trumpet and then they've arranged these sounds in a way that I can play them on my MIDI keyboard.

    As good as that sounds, they're definitely not the real thing and I absolutely hate using these "fake" instruments to be honest, but it certainly helps in giving you a good idea as to what the finished song will sound like, which is a blessing while you're writing it.

    It takes a while to load because these virtual instruments take up a lot of RAM.

    Imagine how many notes a Trumpet has, each one played a few times and at a few different volumes. Each one of these is a separate file.

    Then we do the same for Trombones, then Horns, then Tubas, then Saxes, Flutes, Clarinets, Oboes, Bassoons, Violins, Violas, Cellos, Basses, etc, etc, etc!

    So, I end up having to load all of these on a few different computers and I have a separate computer for the actual writing of the music.

    These computers talk to each other over LAN and then Marty engages the flux capacitor and we travel back to the...

    Wait... what? Porridge.

    8:30am - I start fleshing out an idea for a style and melody.

    Inspiration and creativity are a tricky thing. I use to wander around aimlessly looking for it and then something would just hit me.

    Usually it was a bus or something from a well-fed bird flying high above, but it was enough to snap me out of my head space and give me an idea.

    But, as I kept doing this for a while I realised that the best way to find inspiration is to do just that -- find it. Go looking for it.

    Don't wait for it to come to you, start hacking away at something and bend, mould and shape it until its "cool".

    9:00am - Level has lots of bugs. Bad bugs, evil bugs.

    Looking for something that represents bugs and I'm liking this weird sound I made in Absynth by messing with a recording of me rubbing my wet fingers over the window glass.


    9:30am - Got a set of "musical" bug textures, now to start on a melody.

    There's a lot of combat in this level, but I don't want to go for tons of drums and percussion, although I'm thinking of diminished scales and col legno strings (where the players "hit" their Violins with their bows).

    Sounds like spiders.

    10:00am - Yup, I'm liking where this is heading -- still working on it, only have about 30 seconds of music so far.

    10:30am - Because deadlines on this project are tight and there's a lot of interactivity involved, ie. the music isn't just simple loops, it needs to react clearly with what the player is doing, I'm taking more of a "musical editor" approach by writing a bunch of combat and idle music first and then I chop it up later to fit the level.

    It's a quick approach that seems to work. Just over 1 minute of music done now.

    11:00am - Pretty happy with my 90 seconds of music so I start mixing and adding my bug sounds and textures... just like cooking, although I'm using fake bugs.

    11:30am - Take a quick break to check emails as the US is about to log off for the night.

    Surprisingly, the developers I contacted this morning are going to be doing a pitch round in a few weeks so they send me an NDA.

    Cool. Horror. I like horror. Horror is my favourite.

    12:00am - Mixed, chopped and prepared.

    I start going about setting it all up in FMOD so it reacts to what the player is doing.

    What do you mean I can't fade-out a layer? Hmm... might have to make this baby an event.

    12:30pm - Lunchtime!

    Not feeling like cooking... I am feeling like getting out of the house.

    I pop up to this awesome Organic Sourdough cafe up the street where they have some amazing Cinnamon and Ricotta bread thingy -- sounds like a plan.

    1:00pm - Nom.. nom... nom.. nom.. nom.


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