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Music for RPG

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Hi, I'm writing the music for a singleplayer RPG and would like to know what people think. My aim is mainly orchestral or simpler songs. So here's the list: - Bordura (village theme) - Battle Theme (updated) - Different (sad theme) - The Council (working on this one) - Travel (theme) - Travel 2 (military travelling theme) - Ending Theme (FMV, sad) - Under Siege (FMV war music) - Ancient War (FMV music, possible for intro) So, how is it? [Edited by - Ignifex on October 29, 2005 4:00:28 PM]

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They are all pretty good.

I think that you could of use a better soundfont for the Piano however, it sounded as if you used "FLKeys" which I beleive you did, being an FLStudio User (Nothing is wrong with FL, its very good...)

Being A musician myself I know its not the quality of the sound, but the quality of the music.
So I give all of your peices an 8/10 (Which is good, I mean I give the music only by Yasunori Mitsuda a 9.5/10, and Nobou only gets a 9/10 on my list as well.)

Keep it up, and buy one of the more popular music compsing studios.
I HIGHLY reccomend Reason.

GigaStudio, and Sonar are awesome as well.




EDIT: also, the battle theme is to slow, raise it about 15-20BPM

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Hi Ignifex. You are really close! I listen to your stuff and I can tell what you want to do...Your instrumentation is good and you have good ear for what you want to do. 2 things, 1) the quality of your samples could probably use an upgrade. XisZ has a point, Reason is an excellent program to get started with because the possibilities of the sound produced are endless.The quality of the sound is also very good and you can find it relatively cheap these days if you know where to look.

2) Also, the quality of your pieces is generally good and the chord changes are good, when they happen. However, your pieces tend to stay in one place a little too long without variation, which could get old fast. In the case of a role playing game, this will be music that the player will become overtly familiar with therefore it is a good idea to present melodies and harmonies with variation that will keep the players attention for long periods of time. Also, I hear some dissonance in many of your pieces. Is that intentional? A few music theory classes could really help you out in terms of finding a tonal center while composing.

Cool. :)

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Wow, thanks for the feedback and tips both of you.

to XisZ: For the piano, I use a soundfont named "Roland Nice Piano". Having a grand piano at home, I thought it sounded very good, but I will compare some more and perhaps change the soundfont. Also, I'll have a look at Reason sometime soon :) 8/10... Never thought I'd get there...

to Rain 7: I'll look into Reason soon. I have also noticed my pieces tend to be rather short and repetitive. In future compositions, I will try to change that. Note that "Ending theme" is the last thing I wrote, which has no repeat at all.
About the sonance and dissonance, I believe this mostly accurs in "Travel" and I am going to have a look at it sometime on a normal staff. Having played the piano for about 5 years, I know close to everything about musical theory, and the dissonance in "Different" for example is intentional.

Once again, thanks for the feedback and tips.

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Original post by Ignifex
Having played the piano for about 5 years, I know close to everything about musical theory,


Yep, you are definitely a piano player.:P

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Is that because of the chords/melody kind of construction or what?
Because that is probably my main way of working yes ^^

To XisZ: 15-20 BPM? Isn't that a bit too much? It really went very very fast. It's currently at 140, and I agree raising it to 150 is a good idea, but 160 is really too fast in my opinion. So I'll change it to 150 and update it sometime soon.

[Edited by - Ignifex on September 2, 2005 8:35:30 AM]

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Original post by Ignifex


to Rain 7: I'll look into Reason soon. I have also noticed my pieces tend to be rather short and repetitive. In future compositions, I will try to change that. Note that "Ending theme" is the last thing I wrote, which has no repeat at all.
About the sonance and dissonance, I believe this mostly accurs in "Travel" and I am going to have a look at it sometime on a normal staff. Having played the piano for about 5 years, I know close to everything about musical theory, and the dissonance in "Different" for example is intentional.

Once again, thanks for the feedback and tips.


Baby steps. :) Some of the best advice I can give you is go at your own pace and certainly don't attempt to run before you can walk properly, if that makes sense. Steady progress that is slow is still progress. What you do, (writing music, studying how music works) from day to day builds upon itself.

Also, music that repeats itself isn't necessarily repetitive. Some of the best written music that I have had the pleasure of hearing is only 40 seconds long. Koji Kondo's super mario bros. theme comes to mind. That music is exceptionally well written and no matter how many times you hear it, it almost seems to grow more on you with each pass. For an exercise, When you are in the process of sitting down and writing music try to start getting a gauge of when you think you need to vary the sound. At that time, try to implement a chord change or present the idea in a new form...See how it turns out and note what works and what doesn't in that situation. When you think an idea needs to keep going, sometimes cut it off intentionally and start developing the piece in a new way, You are the wheelman after all! Music is fun in that allows you to play with the listeners emotions. The unexpected is sometimes a welcome surprise. Anyways, I call this instinct and it is probably the most important tool in a composer's toolbox of tricks. So, keep your tools sharp, write everyday and you should be in cutting form soon enough! :)





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Hey man, your stuff sounds pretty good. However, like the other guy said, it's pretty repetitive, and you carry on the ideas for too long. Also, it's a tad rigidly rhythmic for an orchestral style, but if that's what you were going for, no problem.

Try to work on turning some of that repetition into variation. Note, not all repetition is to be avoided. The good kinds of repetition draw you in, and you completely forget about it. The more you write, the better sense you get for what is good repetition, and what is bad repetition.

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Original post by krikkit
Quote:
Original post by Ignifex
Having played the piano for about 5 years, I know close to everything about musical theory,


Yep, you are definitely a piano player.:P


I've played piano for 20 years and know jack shet about theory =) hahahah


Your battle theme doesnt sound like one to me. I makes me think of scene like in FF2 when Cecil is walking out of the castle at first. also the drums are doing nothing for me in that song. just a lot of noise.


Over all the music sounds really good for what you have to work with. Everything has that computer perfect sound (timing wise with notes). IMO not a good thing. but it still sounds good.

p.s the Spirits of evil would sound so much better if you could get the trumpet notes to ring out some. maybe add some reverb to it?

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I'm currently busy renewing most of the songs, because the quality does lack a bit. They'll be updated when I'm done.
I also had a look at the Reason demo and I think I'll go with the baby steps :) For now, learning to use an entirely new program again is perhaps not the best idea.
And I must agree with jeffie7, the battle theme is not perfect yet, but it's getting better now (in my opinion anyway).

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Hi. I suppose I ought to reply now, having listened to all your peices ;).

Well, the first impression I have of your music is that it's... Ok. And if that dosen't sound like damning with faint praise, then it probably should ;)

The problem with game music, is that there are two, (well - ok, three), different ways (or schools of thought), about how the music should fit with the game. However, these ideas are interchangable, and it does depend a lot on the game itself.

The first school of thought is that you write a peice of music, (with the game in mind, obviously), making sure it's a good peice of music in it's own right to begin with, then arrange it for the game. The second is that you write the peice of music to accompany the game, first and foremost, with the quality of it to listen to, seperately, being secondary.

(I know thats not the best way of explaining it, though :-/ ).

To start with the 2nd method - thats generally the way music is written for film. It's written TO and FOR the film, without any real regard as to how well it will sound on it's own, since it's not a consideration. At this time, however, the majority of games don't do this all the time. However, with the increasing influence the film industry is having on game production I'd also expect to see this methods popularity increase too. (And yes, writing short bits of music that gets combined in different ways, (i.e. different themes, essentially) is also from this side of the fence).

The problem with this method is that it does tend to produce quite a lot of repetitive music if you are not careful - however, if the game is quite linear, (almost like a film), then it can work very well indeed.

However, if the game isn't very linear, and/or is pretty long and expansive, (like an RPG for instance), then you begin to need music thats pleasant to listen to on it's own merits, aswell as fit with the game. And since you will probably be listening to a lot of it - you don't want it to be too repetitive either. Don't get me wrong - you can use the other method to write music for an RPG aswell - it's just that the music tends to be forgotten very easily, which is not what we're after, not for a game like an RPG. At this time, there seems to be in general, two sorts of music being composed this way. The first is the orchestral stuff, which is always expected since it;s what most composers are used to. and the second being similar to some of the stuff you've written here, at least in the west anyway. Thankfully the orient (China/Japan etc.) does things slightly differently, in that they also tend to draw of some of their own traditional musical influence aswell. I say thankfully, since it's one of the main things that makes their games 'different' to those we get in the west, which is one of the whole ideas in the first place.

And thats the main reason why I think your music is just 'ok'. There's simply nothing that special, new or interesting about it for me...

(Of course, you can always combine the two methods, and the 'third' method I mentioned was the 'taking some already existing (well known) music and putting it with the game if it's remotely suitable, to try and sell more copies of the game' method).

So, you (might be) thinking now, where do I come into all this? - Since I'm a composer too, and am starting to get interested in writing music for games - what makes my music more special, interesting or different? Afterall, why should I complain about your music if mine isn't any better? ;)

Well - the first thing is that, so far, I've been mainly writing music to be listened to, rather than to accompany anything - apart from my two most recent peices, which are both orchestral, (though thats only because I don't have the instruments to do them how I originally wanted). (One was written for film, the other as an opening (credits) theme tune for a proposed computer game). ('When all you've got is a virtual orchestra, everything sounds like a symphony' ;) ).

However, because of the nature of the music I write, and the way I do so, adapting the music I have and the music I can/will write for games is not particularly hard... Having said all that - the main downside is that the style of music I write is mostly only suitable for adventure games/RPG's. However for these two particualr types of game it's almost PERFECT. And do you want to know something? - I don't know of a SINGLE game (though there might a couple) that uses it...

If you want to know the sort of music I write, go to my website, and listen to the tracks Heidi's Tune, A Tune For Thadeus - (and maybe A Tune For Jeremy, too):

http://www.ic-musicmedia.com/DarrenTomlyn


Yep, I write CELTIC style music, (mostly). Not only that, but I can write LOTS of it. The only downside is that I don't have the authentic celtic instruments to make it sound better :(

The reason why this style is perfect for these types of games, is, that first off, it deals with TUNES. Tunes are ideal for these types of games, becasue they have enough of a musical identity to sound very pleasing, are short enough to be memorable, and are flexible enough for any situation, and can be strung together (in something called a medley) very easily to make them a LOT less repetitive. Also, the types of tunes in this style are easily suitable for everything from battles to love scenes/laments or just general background music etc..

Anyway - see what you think...

EDIT: Oh, and one other thing, having a battle theme in a major key generally dosen't work that well...

Darren Tomlyn
Tune-writer and Fiddle-player
http://www.ic-musicmedia.com/DarrenTomlyn

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Well, this thread probably proves I still have a heck of a lot to learn, but luckily I still have all the time in the world to do so. It's important to know I'm not a pro or a schooled composer, but simply someone with some musical training trying to compose some things that are fitting for an RPG. So you could say I mainly use the 2nd method for writing music, but I do still care about how well it sounds on its own.
I well know that none of what I have written so far is either truely specially good or without ways of improvement, if you understand what I mean.
What is mostly important to me now, is to simply write fitting and music and learn along the way. In the end, I will probably end up rewriting just about everything from the start, as I am already beginning to do relatively near it. This mainly shows again just how much I am learning while writing.
And another sidenote, which perhaps I should have given earlier, the music listed above is not what I would really consider to be "finished".
About the battle theme: it's meant to be the kind of "Monster appears!" battle theme, not some kind of war battle theme. That is why I chose mayor, not minor.

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Original post by Ignifex
Well, this thread probably proves I still have a heck of a lot to learn, but luckily I still have all the time in the world to do so. It's important to know I'm not a pro or a schooled composer, but simply someone with some musical training trying to compose some things that are fitting for an RPG.


No problem. Too be honest - so am I ;) (I have grade 5 violin and music theory, but never went that far in music at school either - the main advangtage I DO have, however, is in playing (and then writing) quite a range of different styles of music (Celtic/classical/'rock'/country/bluegrass).

Quote:
So you could say I mainly use the 2nd method for writing music, but I do still care about how well it sounds on its own.


Writing a full music score for a project (film/game etc.) that fits the project to a tee, AND sounds good on it's own merits, is one of the hardest things to do in music - which is why the few composers that really manage it get elevated so much - (Bernstein/Williams etc. - or Nobuo 'Final Fantasy' Uematsu in the gaming world). To do it right takes a lot of training/work and experience. Because of that - I stay away from that style of composing, since I simply don't have the background necessary to do it properly and consistently.

Don't get me wrong, it's possible to do it without as much training and experiemce (or talent ;) ) etc. but the results won't be as good, and you'll probably wind up with a score that might have it's moments. but generally winds up being another unmemorable and uneventful addition that dosen't add enough to the game.

Quote:
I well know that none of what I have written so far is either truely specially good or without ways of improvement, if you understand what I mean.
What is mostly important to me now, is to simply write fitting and music and learn along the way. In the end, I will probably end up rewriting just about everything from the start, as I am already beginning to do relatively near it. This mainly shows again just how much I am learning while writing.
And another sidenote, which perhaps I should have given earlier, the music listed above is not what I would really consider to be "finished".


My advice - (it's up to you if you want to listen to it or not - I'll understand if you don't, so don't worry ;) ) - is that you should concentrate on writing good MUSIC first and foremost. When you think you can write good music consistently, then start thinking about the gaming side of things... (Which is what I'm now doing). The trick, is to have at least one element of a peice which is pretty 'strong', and therefore becomes fairly memorable/recoognisable - be it the melody (in my case), or chords/bass-line etc., usually depending on the style of music and the game it's for. For an RPG (most of the time) - the melody is key, and this is where your peices arn't strong enough...

Also, the advantage to writing good music, first and foremost, is that it often makes it a lot more flexible - (though not always). For instance - I originally wrote Excalibur for a 7m30s long FMV sequence. Unfortunately, the project didn't survive, so the peice never got recorded how it was intended. Because, however, it is a good peice of music, I was able to re-arrange it and it's looking pretty certain it'll be being used for a Star Wars Fan Film at some point in the future - and although it won't have the same sort of impact it did with it's original film, it should still fit pretty well. (This peice fit the original FMV sequence to a tee, and is the first and only time I've written a peice thats done that).

Quote:
About the battle theme: it's meant to be the kind of "Monster appears!" battle theme, not some kind of war battle theme. That is why I chose mayor, not minor.


Well, IMO, it sounds really too amibiguous about what it really wants to be, to be a proper 'theme'. Major/minor? happy/sad? etc.. Maybe it's just me ;)

Well - thats my take on your music... (I'd like to hear your take on mine too :) ).

Darren Tomlyn
Tune-writer and Fiddle-player
http://www.ic-musicmedia.com/DarrenTomlyn

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Original post by Rain 7
Very nice thoughts Darren. :)


Well - I hope you listened to my music too ;)

Darren Tomlyn
Tune-writer and Fiddle-player
http://www.ic-musicmedia.com/DarrenTomlyn

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Original post by DarrenTomlyn
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Original post by Rain 7
Very nice thoughts Darren. :)


Well - I hope you listened to my music too ;)

Darren Tomlyn
Tune-writer and Fiddle-player
http://www.ic-musicmedia.com/DarrenTomlyn


I haven't but I will be sure to check it out, thanks.

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Well, I had a look at your music and heard most tracks to the end. My first impression: Wow! The quality is amazing!! And after a few of your songs, I'm still surprised by the quality. What program do you use?
Something I also noticed about your songs, is that they are generally really long, which is in my opinion a very good thing if you can keep the listener interested. And you manage that quite well, with variation in melody and addition of instruments, while still keeping the same tunes returning every once in a while. Though at some points your music does tend to be somewhat long-winded to my ears, but this is quickly solved by an intermezzo or change of tune.
The melody is good, but not really of the type that remains in my ears for a few days as I have had with other music. What I do really like about your music, is how you simply use the same melody again and make it sound entirely different by changing an instrument and making two others play something slightly different. I think I'm going to take that at heart as a really good method of making your music remain interesting for a longer period of time.
Overall I think your music is really good, with a clear style of its own making it quite unique. Once again, the quality is shockingly good.
So, I'll ask again so you won't forget. What did you use to make it?
And thanks again, to all of you and to Darren of course, for your replies.

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Original post by Ignifex
Well, I had a look at your music and heard most tracks to the end. My first impression: Wow! The quality is amazing!! And after a few of your songs, I'm still surprised by the quality. What program do you use?


The programs I've used for those tracks are:

CubaseSX2

Reason 2.5. Mostly use it to play the drum samples I have atm. (I mainly use the samples in the Ambient kit for Battery drum vsti, (from Native Instruments)).

Edirol Orchestral: (main virtual instrument). When I got my DAW 3 1/2 years ago - it was pretty much the only 'basic' (i.e. cheap) orchestral instrument around - now there are more, but I'm not sure what all the others are like sound or instrument wise. I got some flyers form the Sounds Expo show in London a year later, though, and noticed that the basic versions of a couple didn't include all the instruments that the Edirol package had - (like piano, harp, piccolo etc.). (P.s. I just checked the prices on it - I'm sure it was cheaper when I bought it a couple of years ago. Maybe I got an offer since I got it with my Edirol DA2496 sound card though - oh well. (It's £200 (ex.VAT) - sure I got it for £150). The only other thing I have to say about this program though, is that it's not particularly easy to save the instrument settings :(. Oh, and it's pretty heavy on the CPU, apparently - though I haven't had any problems with my 2.4Ghz P4 and 1GB RAM, (though with the Edirol DA2496).

Edirol Super Quartet. I use this for the piano and acoustic guitars and bass - I have never used the drums yet. (I really like the acoustic 12-string guitar on it).

The synth in Heidi's Tune is SK Ganymed. (Free*).

The organ(s) in A Tune For Thadeus & Caleb's Tune is (either) the ZR-1 and/or ZR-3. (Free*).

The 2nd synth in A Tune For Jeremy (and the one in A Tune For Peyton) is one I borrowed from my friend called FM-7 by Native Instruments.

*All the free vsti's (and more) are available from www.kvr-vst.com

Quote:
Something I also noticed about your songs, is that they are generally really long, which is in my opinion a very good thing if you can keep the listener interested. And you manage that quite well, with variation in melody and addition of instruments, while still keeping the same tunes returning every once in a while. Though at some points your music does tend to be somewhat long-winded to my ears, but this is quickly solved by an intermezzo or change of tune.


Well - for most of these peices (which are all intended as demo's) - I've used mainly two ideas: either a medley of tunes, which repeat with extra harmonies, or a single tune with extra harmonies gradually layered on top. The purpose of these peices are to show both the sort of music and tunes I can write, aswell as the sort of harmonies I can write too.

You have to understand that 'full-on' harmony parts, (like those in A Tune For Thadeus or Medley-Fast), in Celtic-style INSTRUMENTAL peices, are VERY rare. The furthest most of the celtic music mainly gets (like Davy Spillane etc.) with harmonies is as far as A Jig For Noggin - which is VERY Spillane-like, and deliberately so - (if only I had the right instruments). (If you've never heard Davy Spillane - look for The Storm by Moving Hearts, or Pipedreams/Atlantic Bridge/Shadow Hunter or A Place Among The Stones by himself and his own band, and you might hear where I'm coming from. (The first track on A Place Among The Stones, (called Darklight), gets my vote as the best chill-out track EVER ;) )). Stuff like Medley-Fast, and A Tune For Thadeus, as far as I can tell are pretty much unique. And the whole reason behind Austin's 'Mini' Waltz (apart from it being my first full orchestral peice), is that as many instruments as possible are playing Tunes as much as possible, which (again) is very rare...;)

Quote:
The melody is good, but not really of the type that remains in my ears for a few days as I have had with other music.


Well, in my own defence, the only tune I actually wrote specifically to be memorable (and therefore simple etc.) was In The Beginning...

Quote:
What I do really like about your music, is how you simply use the same melody again and make it sound entirely different by changing an instrument and making two others play something slightly different. I think I'm going to take that at heart as a really good method of making your music remain interesting for a longer period of time.


Well, that what harmony parts are for ;)

Quote:
Overall I think your music is really good, with a clear style of its own making it quite unique. Once again, the quality is shockingly good.
So, I'll ask again so you won't forget. What did you use to make it?
And thanks again, to all of you and to Darren of course, for your replies.


No problem. The advantage in having a background like mine is that you come to understand quite a lot about music in general, though I specialise in writing tunes, and other tunes which work with those etc. (I.e. harmony parts).

(P.s. I once wrote an Irish Reel (4/4 time, like the last two tunes in Medley fast - a jig is in 6/8) with 8 full-on harmony parts !!!! :O Unfortunately it's beyond the instruments I have to really make it sound good :( (Oh, and it was over 25-minutes long ;) )).

Darren Tomlyn
Tune-writer and Fiddle-player
http://www.ic-musicmedia.com/DarrenTomlyn

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Wow, these are probably the best pieces of RPG music I've ever seen on these boards, or at least in a long while. They have the perfect RPG theme to them, and are very polished.

Nice job, keep up the excellent work. Keep posting your secrets as well!

:)

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that music is soooo awesome, i'd be happy if i could do that; my music doesn't sound that good...ugh

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Well, it's been a while again since I last posted here.
First of all, thanks again for you compliments. I really appreciate it.
The battle theme has been updated, as I said I would. It is now a bit longer and more polished, especially in dynamics. I have practically rewritten everything, but mainly the drums really changed.
I thought I'd also share some new music. Note that "Under Siege" is something I am currently working on, so it is rather short and stops pretty suddenly. "Ancient war" is an old piece of music I once wrote, still using it's working name. Both are ment as music for an FMV.
I'll put them here and add them above as well:

- Under Siege (FMV war music)
- Ancient War (FMV music, possible for intro)

Edit: Now that I think about it, these last pieces of music, I'm not even sure whether they are going to be in the game. So perhaps I am following your advice, Darren, and began to write music more for the music itself and, something that is very important to me right now, to learn.
Though still I always feel music should have a background, it should be written to accompany something, be it a movie, a game, a play. In my opinion music should be accompanying a story of some kind, to make it come alive through music.

[Edited by - Ignifex on October 29, 2005 4:59:55 PM]

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