Create music and sound effects for mainline or user-made content.

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Post by Ferrous »

So first of all, hello. I'm Ferrous, and I've been enjoying Wesnoth for about a year now, and sooner or later I'd like to start contributing to the music scene for Wesnoth (ETA is dependent on some RL issues). The two things that I'm good at is music (I happen to be a movie soundtrack aficionado and a musician, though I do not claim to be a composer) and statistics. The later will eventually turn into a separate project that I have planned.

In the meantime, however, I was wondering if we should gather a list of music that can be used for inspiration, viz. what the art forum has done. I'd be more than happy to round up samples of famous and not famous composers used for movie soundtracks (Zimmer, Shore, Williams, etc.), a few samples of video game music (I'm not talking about Super Mario, don't worry, I'm thinking more along the lines of "those who fight" from FFVII) plus traditional composers (Bach, Beethoven, etc.) to provide examples of certain musical elements.

If nothing else, perhaps we can just start a thread (this one maybe) where people can post links of the kinds of music that they find inspirational and appropriate for Wesnoth music.

Obviously a person's work should be original, that is something that I can most certainly respect, but I do think this could be helpful for getting new ideas and introducing new elements to Wesnoth music.
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Re: Inspiration?

Post by Tyler Johnson »

Hi Ferrous, welcome to the forum!

I gather inspiration from in-game graphics and music. I definitely want the music to fit the game, and although FFVII is one of my favorite soundtracks, it doesn't really have a place in Wesnoth. Maybe FFIX would fit better...

Either way, as far as techniques I'm sure I draw upon all of the music that I have been listening to and grew up with, but that is subconscious in writing, and happens on accident. For instance, the middle waltz section in "Into the Shadows" was inspired by Shostakovich's Russian Waltz, but I hadn't figured that out until after the song was completed.

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Re: Inspiration?

Post by TreizeCouleurs »

Tyler Johnson wrote: I gather inspiration from in-game graphics and music. I definitely want the music to fit the game,
I'm exactly the same as Tyler in this regard. I spose when writing in this sort of medium you definitely have to be! It is without a doubt the most important thing.
Ferrous wrote:Obviously a person's work should be original, that is something that I can most certainly respect, but I do think this could be helpful for getting new ideas and introducing new elements to Wesnoth music.
I totally agree with the first part of your statement, however not so on the second. Please allow for my excessive and unashamed rant below: :P

In terms of looking intensively through works for inspiration, I find that you have to treat the concept carefully. For example, my hands down favorite video game composer is Jeremy Soule, his works for Oblivion and particularly Morrowind are nothing short of breathtakingly amazing. Whenever I've had a down period of writing, or feel particularly bummed, listening to his works feels like a giant kick up the rear, and just totally inspires me to get back into it, or write things in a different way, it's like a huge breeze of fresh inspiration.

However, I'm careful not to let that turn me into, you know, just another Soule; If my experience and love for avant garde/contemporary classical composition has taught me anything, it's really that your individual voice is the most important thing you have. Think about it, if someone wants music for their next epic rpg, and they want the Soule sound, they're not really gonna take you, budget Soule, over the real thing. Infact why would they, noone can really do what he does better than he can, even if your attempting to undercut him at half the rate or something :P

Think about any genre that you really like, or are really into ... chances are you remember, listen to, and respect the pioneers of the genre, the ones that truly established it, and then those that came later and did their own interesting thing to it, twisted it in some unusual way, added very individual blends of another style into it yadda yadda ... but what about the huge amount of clone material that came between these two periods? Chances are you pass that off like a week old egg sandwich. Ie ... the original dubstep breakout scene was incredibly interesting and new, very cool, the resulting millions of kids sitting in their bedrooms writing fruity loops tracks with generic wobble bass lines were god awful, but the new and upcoming Dubstep/IDM/ambient crossover artists are incredibly intriguing! (this is all to my ears of course, but I'm quite sure you could draw parallels with your own favorite niche genre!) Even Bach, the one everyone loves today, essentially belonged to the second group above, and was pretty much neglected throughout his entire lifetime, writing in an old and dead style ... if it wasnt for mendelssohn grrr :P

You only have to spend some time on youtube to realize how many incredibly flat and uninspired sounding Hans Zimmer clones there really are out there ... the exact same chord progressions, string marcato's repeating patterns of thirds, customary huge percussive hits, rising horn melody on top. Honestly, there are ALOT of them out there - and honestly, idn, maybe its just me, and maybe I'm influenced a bit too much by art music, but it ends up sounding very generic and well, boring. Modulating down a major third was great the first 1000 times I heard it :P Heck even I'm guilty of that one :P

I think that if you codify Wesnoth's current or possible future style of music by creating an official list of tracks for 'inspiration' I think what you effectively achieve is the opposite -> you limit what it could sound like. Everyone has their own inspirations, thats what makes them who they are, and affects how they write, but by kind of codifying a list of standard samples of sound, I think your effectively creating a box, and possibly not a good sort. I think Wesnoth already has enough material within it for one to be able to effectively gauge what kinds of music would and would not fit, and we have great Mod's that ensure quality control on top of that.

That being said, I do analytically listen to other scores out there to see what works and what doesn't. Just today I've been listening to the Fable score, trying to understand it compositionally, and I work through the WOW music cues occasionally, working out the chords/notes/timbres because alot of it works exceptionally well, and it's the best way of learning!

And hey Ferrous, I spose this whole post wasn't really aimed at you or anyone in particular ... I spose sometimes I just get tired of what I perceive to be stagnancy in the genre. Welcome to the forum and can't wait to hear music from you!!

[EDIT: I think alot of what I've written above applies more to film than video game music. I find the latter to be alot less derivative and therefore more interesting. Also I've contemplated deleting this post, it might be a little off topic, and it might seem like I'm attacking Ferrous but rest assured I'm not :)...Consider it a Thursday night rant]

Oh and hey, Bach and Beethoven would be pretty sucky models for Wesnoth :P Check this out, it is an AMAZING suite, and if you love film music you WILL love this!
Ravel - Daphnis et Chloe Suite 2

and if you love dark, scary music, you'll lap this up too
Scelsi - Uaxuctum
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Re: Inspiration?

Post by West »

I'm with TreizeCouleurs, having a personal sound is the alpha and the omega. It can be fun trying to mimic someone else's style, if nothing else it's educational, but at the end of the day it's not very rewarding being a clone. Every musician goes through clone phases -- I certainly did, and perhaps still do -- but eventually you have to stop trying to be someone else and just be yourself. In most cases this happens naturally and without effort as you mature and grow as a musician, but it's hard to get rid of it completely. Sometimes you have to force yourself to stop thinking "what would [musician] do?" and just do your own thing. Most often such reasoning stems from insecurity, from questioning whether ones own ideas are really good enough.

Regarding inspiration, I also agree that listing a bunch of tracks that have the "right" sound could potentially be completely counterproductive. Many contributors would interpret that as we want new music to sound like those specific pieces, when in fact we only listed some music because of its general atmosphere, or a short passage in the middle, or some other non-obvious thing. That said, I see absolutely no harm in discussing our sources of inspiration. It's always interesting to learn what influences other musicians have, and discovering new things to listen can never be a bad thing.

Personally I don't listen to many classical composers, my interest in orchestral music comes almost exclusively from soundtrack composers. This will probably be frowned upon, but despite my efforts to get into classical music I've found precious little that really appeals to me. While I have the highest respect for the classical composers from a musical standpoint, I can't listen to Mozart without getting mental images of men in make-up and wigs. I love Dvorak's New World Symphony though, and Holst's The Planets. I've also been trying to delve deeper into Der Ring des Nibelungen since I really love some of the shorter Wagner snippets I've heard, but alas, opera gets tiring very quickly, especially when you have no idea what they're saying :D

My biggest hero is without a doubt John Williams. This guy is a certified genious and sometimes I feel that people don't truly grasp his greatness because he's "just" a movie composer. I grew up with his music and loved it even as a kid, especially Star Wars but also E.T. and Indiana Jones, and still today I find immense joy in listening to his works. Even something as done-to-death as the Star Wars main theme. I just never grow tired of it. There is no other single soundtrack composer that I've listened to as much, but to name a few others I really love James Horner's work on Willow, Basil Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian score and Trevor Jones's score for Excalibur. Come to think of it, I do like Carl Orff's Carmina Burana a lot, though it was Excalibur that sparked my interest.

Like TreizeCouleurs I'm also a big Jeremy Soule fan, partly because his music is awesome in its own right, but also because he is a master of virtual orchestration and it's incredibly inspiring listening to the stuff he does with samples. Plus I love many of the games he's scored (Guild Wars in particular, but Morrowind and Oblivion are also very good), so I associate his music with a lot of great game experiences. Howard Drossin's Baldur's Gate II soundtrack had a huge impact on me way back, especially the way he mixes bombastic orchestrations with very tasty folk music stuff.

Now as for Hans Zimmer... yes, his music has definitely spawned countless boring clones. At the same time I think it's unfair to blame him for that (not saying that you did, TreizeCouleurs, but a lot of people do) as he's just doing his own thing and his style happens to be straightforward (banal, some would say) enough to allow for easy "copying". I don't consider myself a Zimmer fan per se, but I do like some of his stuff, mainly Gladiator and The Rock. However I also find a lot of his music very soulless and robotic and quite tiring to listen to.
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