Category Archives: video game

Loneliness, Hope, and Old Gods: Talking with Sergio Ronchetti About the Music of Eldest Souls (2021)

Last month I got the opportunity to speak with composer Sergio Ronchetti about his work on the recently released video game Eldest Souls. London-based, Spanish & Italian composer and sound designer Sergio Ronchetti boldly crafts scores dwelling within realms of dusky depth, mercurial mood, and aggressive execution, drawing upon his background in heavy metal and combining his lyrical tastes with more traditional, orchestral compositional techniques for a truly singular signature style.

Sergio’s debut score for the 2021 pixel-art, boss-rush, “Souls-like” video game Eldest Souls captures the lonely and desolate melancholy of the game world while also providing vigorous, combative battle music matching the intensity of the challenging gameplay and capturing the personality and essence of each iconic boss fight. He cites artists like Trivium, Machine Head, and Gojira as direct references to his Eldest Souls score – even if his instrumentations are far removed from theirs.

I hope you enjoy our conversation about Ronchetti’s work on Eldest Souls!

How did you get started as a composer?
I left high-school with the sole intention of joining a metal band and becoming a touring musician: which is what i did! I had been playing in bands ever since i was 15, using every spare minute at school to jam with friends in the music rooms. I guess during this time i picked up a lot of DAW production skills without knowing, which gave me a little head start when i decided to pursue media composing after about 4 years of touring. University was then the best place for me to learn exactly what kind of composer/musician i wanted to be, but I learned how to compose behind a computer around my degree. I took short course, extra classes and spoke to as many of my lecturers as possible to understand how to get my career started during my studies, not after. Combine this with saying yes to every opportunity that came my way and everything slowly built up from there.

How did you get involved with Eldest Souls?
I met Jon and Francesco at a free workshop in London hosted by Intel. They were showcasing a super early version of the game whilst taking a gap year during their studies to work on it. Initially they just wanted music for a trailer they were putting out. I sent them a track i thought could work and to my amazement they loved it! Pretty clear from then on that I was a good fit for their project, which is important when collaborating. I don’t think I was anything special, especially back then, but both parties were in the perfect position in terms of experience and skills to work together.

Were you given any specific directions by the game’s creators when working on the score?
The stylistic decisions were made very early on. This meant that I had a direction right from the get go, in terms of style, placement in the game and the scope of the game. The best part as that Jon and Francesco created a very stress-free and flexible workflow, which gave us all the chance to fail and learn moving forward. Sometimes they had reference tracks that they really wanted to hear in the game, other times i just asked for 3-4 words describing the mood, setting and emotions they wanted out of each boss fight.

A related question: was there a lot of collaboration with the game’s director/creators on the score?
As an indie studio, there’s often a lot of crossover within our individual roles. With the music and more so the sound design, we worked very closely and generated as much feedback and testing as possible to get the ideal work out of me. Similarly, I’d always offer to help out at conventions and managing other areas like the socials and marketing, so it really was a collaborative effort from all of us. And I loved every minute of it! We’ve all grown an attachment to this project and we’re all the more happy to see it finally out there for people to enjoy.

I’ve heard Eldest Souls described as “Souls-like” which I assume means it’s similar to the Dark Souls series of games. Is the music for Eldest Souls similar in any way to Dark Souls or did you take a different approach with the music?
In terms of gameplay you could say so. We limited the music to the combat sequences in the game, which left ambience and sound design to govern the travelling in-between. Really this was to reinforce the narrative of the game which is my sole purpose as a game audio professional. I am constantly asking myself “what story am I telling here?” before designing any sounds or music. So when the music hits, you know it’s go time, and everything springs into action. When it’s over, you’re left with the residual consequences of your action adding to the already desolate environment. But in terms of musical sound I wouldn’t say my music is anywhere close to DS or Bloodborne. We felt that overtly gothic and dark style was perhaps a little overkill for the art-style and pace of Eldest Souls. But I love those soundtracks and getting familiar with them during development was super inspiring.

In general, how did you approach scoring Eldest Souls? Were you able to play through early builds of the game or at least observe early gameplay footage for inspiration?
It was very hands on. Again, all praise to the boys from Rome for allowing me to be as involved as I was. I could quite literally jump into the game, test and mix my audio live using Fmod. Then once i was fairly happy, i’d send it over to them for review. It saved a lot of time and effort in the long-run. Being able to experience the gameplay first-hand is invaluable. It’s like scoring a film and getting to play the main character as you do.

Given how important the game’s boss fights are, how did you specifically go about creating music for those moments? Since each “Old God” encounter is different, I can only assume that would affect the music for each fight. Was there any extra pressure to get the music “just right”?
Really, since this was the first project for all of us, there was no pressure at all! Haha. We just wanted to do the best we could, and learn from the process. That being said, some boss fights came together very quickly, others needed more revisions. It was all about focusing on anticipating player emotions and the mini-narratives within each fight: was it fast-paced? How intimidating was it? What are the boss’ unique characteristics? Questions like that. I also often asked Jon and Franco for just 3-4 words describing the scene, and went from there. Each boss had its own personality that needed matching and enhancing with my music.

Did you make specific musical themes for the main character and the Old Gods? Or other aspects of the game?
Eldest Souls had 2 messages which needed conveying: the brutal combat and the idea of loneliness and hope. The former was expressed by each fight being narrated by a unique boss theme to match the style and personality of each God and beast you encounter. The latter is portrayed via the Main Theme. This title track was my way of tying the whole soundtrack together. Since each boss fight was so different, re-working one theme throughout didn’t end up making much sense from a gameplay experience perspective. It also gave me a chance to write in a totally different genre with my post-minimalist interests coming through with the repeating live vocals and haunting solo cello recordings. It was a lot of fun writing that track and for that reason it holds a special interest to me.

What was your process for deciding which instruments to use in the game’s score?
Keeping with the Souls-like vibe, i took a touch of inspiration from the From Software games. I remember a few years back going to a video games exhibit at the V&A museum here in London. There was a fabulous insight into the Bloodborne music and even previews of the score they used during recordings! The likes of Cris Velasco and Yuka Kitamura decided to cut out any typically high frequency or bright instruments, like trumpets or high violin lines. All with the intention of keeping it as dark sounding as possible. Aside from that, I still take great inspiration from my days of writing and playing heavy metal music which is hugely reliant on rhythmic ideas. For that reason the percussion in my tracks is always front and foremost. Metal drummers like Mario Duplantier and Joey Jordison are huge inspirations to me, even when i’m writing for melodic instruments.

How much time did you have to score Eldest Souls?
The project was initially meant to be a 13 month stint. But through the process we picked up a lot of momentum from wishlists and conventions that we ended up scaling the scope of the game up as we went to about 3 years of development. For that reason I had the opportunity to go back and re-write some of the initial tracks that weren’t quite up to scratch by the end of it. You can improve a lot as a composer in the space of just a year, so after 3 I was at a totally different level. However, I’m not a fan of going back and constantly re-writing and improving work. I’d rather just finish a project and move on to the next. Being prolific is the only way to progress as an artist.

Are there any musical details in the game you hope players notice?
If there are, they are VERY well hidden haha. But for example, towards the end of the project I started to lean into my metal roots even more. I even exercised taking my favourite metal songs and re-arranging the rhythms and melodies. It might be most obvious in The Imperator, if there are any fans of Machine Head out there. Also the intro to that track was super fun to write too. I often like taking classical and romantic pieces of music and re-orchestrating and arranging them. It’s a great way to use existing material and create something totally new by the end of it. The final boss intro had to be epic, so I used epic material. In my opinion it doesn’t get much bigger and grander than Carl Orff’s, O Fortuna.

Do you have a favorite musical theme in the game?
I’m quite partial to ‘Ov Fire and Water’ which I think came out great. Equally ‘Main Theme’ and ‘Lunar Descending’ are still some of my favourites.

I want to say a big thank you to Sergio Ronchetti for taking the time to speak with me about his work on Eldest Souls.

See also:

Composer Interviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack News: Composer Inon Zur to score ‘Starfield’ video game

EMMY award-winner and 3-time BAFTA nominated composer Inon Zur (‘Fallout’, ‘Dragon Age’, ‘Prince of Persia’) is scoring ‘STARFIELD’, the first new universe in 25 years from Bethesda Game Studios, the award-winning creators of ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’ and ‘Fallout 4’. Set hundreds of years in our future, STARFIELD is an epic about hope, our shared humanity, and answering our greatest mystery. In this next generation role-playing game set amongst the stars, create any character you want and explore with unparalleled freedom.

Inon Zur is internationally renowned for his emotionally dynamic original music scores for blockbuster video game franchises including ‘Fallout’, ‘Dragon Age’, ‘Prince of Persia’, and ‘The Elder Scrolls’, as well as the EMMY-winning documentary ‘Saber Rock’ and animated television shows including ‘Power Rangers’, ‘Digimon’ and ‘Escaflowne’.


Zur’s iconic themes and avant garde scores for the ‘Fallout’ video game series have been described as “Sophisticated and atmospheric” (Classic FM) and received two BAFTA nominations. His best-selling soundtrack for ‘Fallout 4’ is celebrated as one of the best original video game scores by BAFTA, The Game Awards, and Classic FM. Recently his original score for ‘The Elder Scrolls: Blades’ received top honors at the Hollywood Music In Media Awards.

Zur previously scored the ‘Fallout’ series and ‘The Elder Scrolls: Blades’ for the studio. The official teaser trailer for STARFIELD was released at a joint Microsoft Xbox and Bethesda Games showcase held during E3 2021, followed by a video introduction entitled ‘Into the Starfield: The Journey Begins’ – both featuring original music compositions by Zur. ‘STARFIELD’ will release November 11, 2022.

Are you excited to see what Inon Zur creates for Starfield?

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 

Into the World of Video Game Music: Talking with Composer Gareth Coker about Immortals: Fenyx Rising, ARK: Survival Evolved, Ori and more!

Just last week I had the pleasure of speaking with composer Gareth Coker about his work on a number of video games, including Immortals: Fenyx Rising, ARK: Survival Evolved, and the two Ori games: Ori and the Blind Forest and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Gareth Coker is a British composer and producer working out of Los Angeles. He is known for his melodically driven scores, unique soundscapes, and attention to detail and execution in the application of how music emotionally relates to the gamer as they are playing. His scores have garnered numerous awards, including the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Award for Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition, two SXSW Awards for Excellence in Musical Score, multiple Game Audio Network Guild awards. 

I had a lot of fun speaking with Gareth Coker about his work on these video games and I hope you enjoy our conversation about them 🙂

How did you get started as a composer for video games?

My first game projects, they all kind of started when I was a student at the University of Southern California. They have a film scoring and game scoring program that is quite extensive. And they do a really good job of hooking you up with a lot of students, you score a lot of short films, and you end up doing student game projects as well. And that gave me a small experience into what goes into producing a video game.

My first commercially released project was a game that didn’t do very well. And that I did for free called inMomentum, which is this hardcore virtual reality racing game. Even though the game didn’t do very well, it did give me an idea of exactly what was involved in producing and shipping a game soundtrack. My big break came from doing a lot of these student game projects. Eventually, the director of the Ori games found me on a website which I was using, and he listened to one of my tracks and thought it might work for the game. And we ended up connecting. And obviously, here we are two or three games later, and several other things later. But at the beginning, I did a lot of small projects and got as much experience as possible.

In general, what’s your process for scoring a video game? I’m sure it varies from one title to the next, but in general what does the process look like?

Generally speaking, and I’m different from other composers, I like to play the game as much as possible while I’m working on it. I think that’s no different conceptually to a film composer watching the film in an early edit with late writers and how things change, games are built in a similar way. The reason I do that, I need to know exactly what the player is going to be experiencing in terms of the moment to moment gameplay. How can I possibly do my best work if I don’t know exactly what the player is experiencing at that moment, especially if the game is trying to tell a story.

You think about a film. You know how the film is going to play out every single time you watch. But you could play the same game three or four times and it might play out slightly differently. So what I’m looking for, it’s the equivalent of spotting in films. Where does the music start? Where’s the music moment? Games have that too. But the difference with games is that music might not change in exactly the same place each time. So what I’m looking for are the best possible points to change the music in a way that isn’t distracting to the player. Because to me, that would break the immersion of the story. But I can only do that if I’m playing the game and understanding exactly what the the player is going through. And it’s from there that pretty much all of my decisions are made.

There are three aspects to the music production process. For me, playing the game allows me to get a feel for the tempo and rhythm of the game. I believe that every single game has a basic tempo and rhythm. If we compare two shooter games, there’s HALO, one that I’ve worked on, and it’s pretty well-known, and compare it with Doom, which I didn’t work on, but it is also a shooter. However [Doom] has a completely different tempo and speed to [HALO]. If you compare the two games and put them side-by-side, you’d recognize that these are the same genre of game but the tempo and rhythm is completely different. If you listen to the music [for each game], the tempo and rhythm and purpose of the music is also very different. So that’s one of the first things, that’s what playing the game gives me, an idea of the flow, and the rhythm and tempo of the music.

The next part, and this usually happens later on in development, but visuals become more established for me to help define instrumentation, and the palette, what instruments we’re going to use, what’s the orchestration going to be? Do I want to use anything a bit more esoteric or want to use any world instruments. All of that, for me is informed by the visuals.

And then of course, the last part is character themes, or story themes and melodic themes. And ideally, you’ve established these fairly early on, so you have your character themes, the instrumentation, and then the tempo, and combining those three pillars, then you can hopefully produce an effective score.

So you would be scoring to gameplay footage as much as possible, then?

Yes. So my process is that I will play the most recent version of the game that I can get hold of that is stable and record myself playing it. I then import that into my music software and I write to that, and I simply keep going until I feel like I have something that works well for me. I also make sure that I have the sound effects and no music, obviously. But I have the sound effects so I can get an idea of how busy the sound effects might be, so I I’m not competing in certain areas of frequency ranges. If we take Ori as an example, there are several different environments in the game. In the first game [The Blind Forest], there’s the volcano environment, it’s obviously going to sound completely different to the frozen environment. They’ve got different sound effects, ambiences and different monsters, etc. But for each one, I just bring them into my music software, and I write to it, and I just keep going until I feel the music works for me. And then we put it into the game almost immediately, and I can get instant feedback from the team to see how well it’s working with gameplay.

At what point in the game’s development are you usually brought in to create the score?

It depends on the developer. I think the game’s composer needs to be brought on earlier, especially if you’re telling a story. In a game, the gameplay mechanics and the rooms are generally built alongside the story because the story needs to work with gameplay. And so that means the story can be rewritten very, very late [in development]. In the case of the second game, we made some story changes four months before the game released, not huge changes, but still a change which had some impact on on the narrative. And I’m very glad we made the changes. But that means you need to have a little bit of flexibility. The reason why I like being involved early is because sometimes decisions that I make with the music can actually impact the story in small ways, because it affects the storytelling. For example we might do a cutscene really early, and they might like the music for the cutscene.

Or we could use that again, somewhere else in a different emotional scene or something like that. It’s much more freeform than film or television or any any linear format, there’s a lot of back and forth, which can be quite difficult to manage, because things are constantly changing. But the earlier you’re bought on, it means that when you get to the end of a project, you basically know the entire game inside out. When you consider how long games are these days, even a short, triple A game is 10 to 12 hours. Sometimes they last much, much, much longer, like 40-60 hours.

So I think that when it comes time to push the accelerate button at the end, in your last year of development when you just need to write a lot of music, if you know the game inside out, you’ve kind of made all of those decisions in the two or three years prior. In the case of both Ori games, I was working on them for four years each, I wouldn’t say I was working on them full time because they’re broken up to give me the space to come in and out of the project as it was being made. I stayed familiar with it. But then as I needed to accelerate, I knew the game really well by the end, so I could just crank out the keys.

For Immortals Fenyx Rising, excluding the DLC, what was your approach for scoring the world of that game? Was any of it based on what real music from ancient Greece sounded like or were you going for a fantasy version of ancient Greek music?

It’s definitely a fantasy version of that world. When you look at [Immortals: Fenyx Rising], it’s so colorful, it’s very exaggerated, going all-out authentic would not work. It would just be too serious for the game. And if you’ve seen any footage of the game and seeing how the characters interact with each other, it’s not taking itself very seriously. It’s meant to be fun. So that gives me room to have fun with the music. That said, I wanted to make sure there was some aspect of ancient Greece in it.

To that end I had several lyres commissioned and built from scratch for me. I also bought another ancient instrument, an aulos. And that sound [of an aulos], it’s one of the most horrendous sounding instruments I’ve ever heard. It’s a really ugly sound. But it was perfect for this section of the game set in the Underworld. So I wanted to make the aulos work in a setting that sounds like the perfect mystery instrument, but I can’t have it sound like it would be played in ancient Greece. So my philosophy with the aulos was, let’s take these sounds, produce them in a modern way to kind of take the edge off and make them a bit more accessible to an audience that is probably going to be playing this game.

But then the other aspect of Immortals is that this is a fantastical game about gods doing very, very epic stuff. And it’s not taking itself seriously. We’ve got the orchestra element and the style I would say is as if we were doing Greek mythology crossed with Fantasia and maybe a bit of DreamWorks.

For the Myths of the Eastern Realm DLC, what is the big difference between using Qin dynasty instruments as opposed to Tang dynasty instruments for the music, as I see the difference is noted.

I mean, first of all, the two dynasties themselves are completely different time periods. I think there’s about 800 to 900 years between them. The Qin Dynasty was from 221 to 206 B.C.E and the Tang Dynasty was from 618 to 907 CE. So many of those instruments [from the Tang Dynasty] didn’t exist in the Qin Dynasty.

So the most ubiquitous instrument that is heard, in literally every Hollywood Chinese themed soundtrack ever is the Chinese violin, the erhu. It’s completely saying, hey, we’re in China, let’s play the erhu. Though you can’t actually use that because it wasn’t around [in the Qin Dynasty]. So I thought this was great because this means I have to do a bit of research. But honestly, they did the research for me, they gave me this amazing list of instruments to use. This is an instrument that is used commonly in modern media but it didn’t exist in the Qin Dynasty. And this is an instrument that is less common, this instrument is never used in modern media. And this is an instrument that didn’t exist during this time period. So the studio was immensely helpful with doing music research, but honestly, it was a learning experience for me, because I thought, wow, there are actually so many different kinds of Chinese music and traditional Chinese music within. One of the things that Hollywood often does is they really like to pare it down to the bare essentials.

For example, how many times have you seen a movie where we get a panning shot of Paris, and then an accordion plays. I understand why they do that, because of the stereotypes and tropes, it’s a thing. But, it’s kind of what I was talking about, we’re going to make it authentic. Let’s at least get the right instruments, let’s get the authenticity and we can still produce it in a modern way. So it was nice, just going that little bit of an extra mile. And not having the erhu makes it sound like its own thing rather than just every other Chinese soundtrack. And funnily enough, if you compare it to my Minecraft Chinese mythology soundtrack, which is set during the Tang Dynasty, you can literally hear the difference. It’s night and day between the two.

Given the role dinosaurs play in ARK: Survival Evolved, I’m surprised more of the music doesn’t appear to focus on the dinosaurs. Was any of it written specifically with the dinosaurs or other prehistoric beasts specifically in mind?

For the original ARK game, the soundtrack came out in 2017, and most of that is combat music for when you’re facing other humans in your territory. The dinosaurs are a feature of ARK, but you can contain them and make them part of your army. So, [with the game and music] it’s less about discovery and more like you can build your own dinosaur army. It’s less Jurassic Park and more “Oh wow, I can ride my own dinosaur.” That’s the difference.

And you have to remember this is an unscripted multiplayer game, which means any footage you’ve seen is unscripted, which means it can result in some truly wild things happening. There’s no limit to the game, but the music is really designed to not convey the wonder of dinosaurs, but actually the awesomeness of controlling a dinosaur army.

Generally speaking, the music that was done for the early part of the game was really just geared towards combat. Now moving forward, that’s going to change particularly with the animated series (author’s note: ARK: The Animated Series is scheduled to premiere in 2022). And so now it’s like, oh, my goodness, I get to write all of the music that I wanted to write for the base game. Because the game doesn’t need that. Because you start the game and you could literally run into a dinosaur within 20 seconds and be wiped out. So the early focus was on combat and survival.

With the TV show, we’ll definitely be exploring some of the other aspects of dinosaur music and the sense of wonder that one would have when encountering them for the first time. And yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing people’s reactions to the TV show, because it has an unbelievable story, which a lot of people don’t fully uncover, because it’s quite a grind to experience the full story in the game. I think my hope is that the animated series kind of condenses the story into into a format that people can digest that would be a really good companion for the game. But also, I think it will stand alone, because the story is so unique. It’s also a new format for me, because I’ve never done a TV series before. And it’s also one of the rare occasions where the game composer actually gets to do the TV show [adaptation].

I know you can’t discuss anything overly specific but, I do have a general question about ARK II, which I understand you’re working on now. In general, what’s it been like returning to the world of ARK? Will the new game’s score be based on the first game or do you start from scratch?

That’s a really good question. So we’ve already shown one trailer of [ARK II]. And if you watch the trailer, it’s an incredibly primitive setting. And there’s ARK Genesis 2 also, which is the final expansion for the first game. If you compare the two settings, ARK Genesis 2, which is the expansion that came out three weeks ago, it’s very futuristic, very sci-fi, for reasons that the game story will reveal. And then ARK II is completely primitive. So going back to the music, we were building on the ARK world and the ARK universe, but you can take just from the visuals, that it will probably be a very primitive sounding score. And a lot more violent. Whereas ARK I is about, “Where are we, it’s a sense of adventure. Oh, I contain dinosaurs,” ARK II is more, “Oh my goodness, this world is harsh.” And everything is very primitive. So it’s more taking what we have and expanding on it. And also trying to give it a different feel where ARK Genesis 2 gave the ARK world a sci-fi feel, ARK II is going to dive into some very, very primitive sounds. I’m doing research on the oldest sounding instruments that I can possibly find.

So unlike Immortals Fenyx Rising and ARK: Survival Evolved, the Ori games are platformer games. Does that format change how you score the game at all, compared to other open-world games you’ve worked on?

It’s funny because Ori is a platformer, but it is also quite open, you can explore quite extensively. The difference is you’re on a 2D plane as opposed to 3D. So you’re always limited to what you can see on screen. And that actually makes it a bit easier. Remember what I was talking about earlier, I play the game to see how the game flows and where music can change. It’s actually easier because there’s less going on, on the screen. So I can be much more granular and specific about what’s going to happen where, but fundamentally the approach is still the same. I play the game, I figure out the tempo, I figure out the rhythms, then the artwork comes in and I choose all the different instruments. And you have a set of themes, Shriek the villain has a theme, all the peripheral characters have themes, and it still gets put together in the same way. It’s all about just finding what clicks with the game in terms of the music, and the only way I know is just to play the games. But I think Ori was the first game where I figured out that was the approach that worked best to me.

What was the inspiration behind the overall sound of the Ori games? It’s a very different sound from the Immortals game and ARK: Survival Evolved and I was curious how you came up with it.

The game has an incredibly unique art style, it’s hand-painted. There’s also the general tone of the game. Other than the truly epic moments, of which there are a handful in each game, it’s generally quite a soft game in comparison to Immortals and Ark, which are, as you know, blood and thunder all the way. And, one thing I found with the Ori games, is that music gives you a little bit of space. It’s difficult to describe, but there’s got to be space in the music to invite you into the world, there’s always going to be something that keeps you hooked in. So most of the Ori music that you hear when you’re exploring the environment, it’s these soft, beautiful, ethereal beds of sound. There are two constants in the exploration music. One is like a gentle motor or rhythm constantly in the exploration music. The reason for that is it’s a platform, and you’re always constantly moving, those little footsteps are constantly pitter pattering away. And the music is designed to push the player forward, because in a platform game, you really always should be moving, you’re generally not standing still in a platform figuring out where to go next.

Now the other thing that you hear on top of that, there’ll always be some kind of melodic element in the exploration music. But the melodic element comes in and out in an exploration track there. And that kind of draws the ear in. If it’s there for too long, then the ear gets tired of it and it starts to distract from the overall gameplay experience because we’re throwing so much at the audience, it’s sensory overload. With new visuals, you pick up a new ability, and you want to try that out. Or now you’ve got to fight a monster. And I don’t want to be throwing too many things where the melody comes in just often enough to keep the music interesting to listen to, and then it goes away. And then you hear a new texture or a new instrument.

A related question, and similar to the one I asked about ARK II, is the music for Will of the Wisps directly connected to the music you created for The Blind Forest or is this wholly new?

So the main connection was with the main theme. I mean, we learned pretty quickly that the main theme is key. I don’t want to compare myself to the great man [John Williams] but if I didn’t use the main themes of the first game it would be like Star Wars not using the main theme for the title role. You like that the main theme was so popular from the first game, so when you started the second game, it’s a new arrangement of the main theme, but it’s still very definitively the main theme from the first game. But other than that, it still feels like Ori but what the comparison I like to make is in the first game, he’s naive, he’s just being born, he’s discovering this world and everything is brand new to him. So it’s kind of a naive, much more gentle sounding score, and it’s got a unique charm, whereas in the second game, Ori’s grown up, and he’s discovering his true purpose in the world.

And what I like to say about the second game is it’s not just Ori that’s grown up, Moon Studios, the developer has grown up into a more mature studio, the themes of the game are more mature. And honestly, myself, I would say I grew up as a composer too. If you compare the two soundtracks, it’s very clear that one is more mature than the other. That doesn’t mean to say that the first soundtrack is not as good, it’s just very different. And it’s funny because I probably wouldn’t write Ori and the Blind Forest the same way, in 2021 that I did in 2014. I’m a different person now. We’re always developing. I think that was it, because that was my big break. And it was the studio’s big break. And we were just kind of figuring it all out as we went along, much like Ori is in the game. So I think there’s that unique synergy and that same unique synergy happened on the second game, because we knew what we were doing. And that led us to be able to better tell the more mature themes in the game, because we were more confident in our storytelling.

I had a great time during the sequel, because it did allow me to explore some of the things that I’d established in the first game as well, and add a little bit more to them. And also developing the main Ori theme just a couple more times, especially in the final scene. The final key scene of the game is really a recap of all the core themes in the game in the space of about three and a half minutes. It actually kind of wrote itself, because I thought, well, everything’s here, I just need to put it in the right order. So it matches and the end of the game was quite fun. Literally, the last vocal notes are pretty much the exact same ones as “Ori Lost in the Storm” from the very first game.

I had an amazing time speaking with Gareth Coker about his work on these amazing video games and I hope you enjoyed reading this interview. I want to say thank you to Gareth Coker for taking the time to speak with me and I hope everyone has a great day!

See also:

Composer Interviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (2021)

Milan Records has released Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (Original Soundtrack) with music by Mark Mothersbaugh and Wataru Hokoyama.  Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Mothersbaugh and Hokoyama for the latest installment in the PlayStation® video game franchise that released on June 11, 2021.

Of the soundtrack, composer Mark Mothersbaugh says:

“It takes an army to create a soundtrack for a video game these days, and there are a number of writers, arrangers, orchestrators, players, synth programmers that were involved.  For games in general, you have to be aware that a particular level and the music embedded in it will sometimes be around for a long time, so you want to make sure your themes and melodies are iconic.  The video game genre is very satisfying because of the craftsmanship involved and the attention to detail. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is probably the best game score I ever got to work on.”

Of the soundtrack, composer Wataru Hokoyama says:

“It was just so much fun working on such an epic game like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.  The depth of the worlds that the game took place in allowed us to write in so many varieties of style.  Working with the teams at Insomniac Games and Sony Interactive Entertainment was so amazing.  They’re full of great people who love and enjoy what they do, and they welcomed us as members of their big family throughout the project.  The feeling of ‘Let’s have so much fun co-creating the world of Ratchet & Clanksound together’ felt so special, and it became one of the most memorable video game projects for me.  It’s important for me to mention that it was Mark Mothersbaugh who brought me on board with this game project.  Mark has been like a fatherly figure to me in my music career.  We’ve done multiple blockbuster films together, and it’s such an honor to have my name credited next to the DEVO legend.  I look forward to our future collaborations.”

Built from the ground up for the PS5™ console by acclaimed studio Insomniac Games, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a brand new, interdimensional adventure.  Go dimension-hopping with Ratchet and Clank and help them stop a robotic emperor intent on conquering cross-dimensional worlds, with their own universe next in the firing line. Jump between action-packed worlds and beyond at mind-blowing speeds – complete with dazzling visuals and an insane arsenal as the intergalactic adventurers blast onto the PS5™ console.  Join a cast of familiar faces and some new allies – including Rivet, a mysterious new playable female Lombax resistance fighter who is just as determined to take out the robotic scourge.

After listening to this soundtrack, I think I owe the Ratchet & Clank video game series a big apology. Now, to be fair, I don’t know what the earlier games sound like, but I do know I wasn’t expecting anything as epic and glorious as what I hear in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Mothersbaugh and Hokoyama have created some genuinely special music that instantly grabs your attention and pulls you into the story. And it must be quite the story, because this music really does feel epic, perhaps not to the same degree as, say, God of War or Horizon Zero Dawn, but it’s definitely attempting to push the boundaries of where the story can go.

One thing I really like in the music for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the musical continuity. There’s a distinctive main theme that recurs throughout the soundtrack, and it’s used to pull everything together. In that way, the music for this game is almost like a symphony in some places, as this main theme opens the soundtrack, appears throughout, and comes back in at the end in climactic fashion. For those reasons, I have to call out “Rift Apart” and “Culmination at Corson V” as two of my favorite tracks on the entire soundtrack. Both feature what is unquestionably the score’s main theme and they’re a lot of fun to sit and listen to (I can only imagine what hearing this music in the game will be like, as the game is a PS5 exclusive and I only have a PS4).

But it’s not all grand and epic sounds in this score either, which is another detail I like. For instance, in “Cascading Enropic Fissure” there’s a musical moment in there that sounds very retro, in fact it almost sounds like the composers are quoting music from an older Ratchet & Clank game (which may very well be the case). I like how this particular track seems to highlight the past. It’s a nice change of pace from the rest of the soundtrack.

And then, I absolutely have to highlight “Join Me At the Top”, the final track on this soundtrack. I’m not sure who all is participating in this piece but it sounds like a musical number that is being sung by the game’s villain and it is absolutely DELIGHTFUL. This is seriously like something out of a Broadway musical. I don’t know why this song is part of the soundtrack or how it fits into the game but after listening to it, I could honestly listen to a whole album of songs just like this one. What a fantastic way to bring the soundtrack album to a close.

I highly recommend checking out the soundtrack to Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. It’s beautiful and one of the best video game soundtracks I’ve heard so far this year.

RATCHET & CLANK: RIFT APART (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –

  1. Rift Apart
  2. Festival of Heroes
  3. A Most Nefarious City
  4. Sweet Home Sargasso
  5. Ride Through the Omniverse
  6. Ode to Nefarious
  7. Meet me at Zurkie’s
  8. Urfdah Mesa Major
  9. Blizar Prime’d and Ready
  10. Molonoth Means Paradise
  11. Cascading Entropic Fissure
  12. A Tale of Two Cordelions
  13. Glitch in the System
  14. A Late Arrival
  15. The Battle for Sargasso
  16. Urfdah Mesa Minor
  17. Y’Ardolis
  18. Zordoom and Gloom
  19. Culmination at Corson V
  20. Join Me at the Top

Let me know what you think of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and its soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Video Game Soundtracks

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

Soundtrack Review: Horizon Forbidden West- The Isle of Spires EP (2021)

Sony Music Masterworks has released Horizon Forbidden West (The Isle Of Spires EP), an EP of music featured in the forthcoming PlayStation® game. 

 Available everywhere now, the EP includes music from the highly-anticipated sequel to 2017’s PS4™ release Horizon Zero Dawn.  With songs by Joris De Man, The Flight, Oleksa Lozowchuk and Niels van der Leest, the four-track EP reunites the original team of composers and musicians who developed the tribal soundscape of the game’s post-apocalyptic setting,

All of the music on this EP is, quite frankly, gorgeous. It feels like I’m back in the world of Horizon, only it’s bigger and more exotic than ever. If you’re going to make a sequel to one of the best video games ever made (in this case Horizon Zero Dawn) then it only makes sense to include the same team of composers and musicians who worked on that first game, which is exactly what Horizon Forbidden West has done and I’m glad for it.

Just from listening to this EP, it sounds like we’re getting a decent sample of music from different points in the upcoming game. There’s not a whole not here, it’s only four tracks after all, but it’s just enough to whet our appetites for what’s to come. I especially like the music in ‘Riddles in Ruins’ and ‘Eyes Open’, the latter in particular uses strings in a way that leaves me wanting to see and hear more. If you loved the music of Horizon Zero Dawn, then this EP is a must-listen.

ABOUT HORIZON FORBIDDEN WEST

Join Aloy as she braves the Forbidden West – a majestic but dangerous frontier that conceals mysterious new threats.  Explore distant lands, fight bigger and more awe-inspiring machines, and encounter astonishing new tribes as you return to the far-future, post-apocalyptic world of Horizon. 

The land is dying. Vicious storms and an unstoppable blight ravage the scattered remnants of humanity, while fearsome new machines prowl their borders. Life on Earth is hurtling towards another extinction, and no one knows why.  It’s up to Aloy to uncover the secrets behind these threats and restore order and balance to the world. Along the way, she must reunite with old friends, forge alliances with warring new factions and unravel the legacy of the ancient past – all the while trying to stay one step ahead of a seemingly undefeatable new enemy.

Track List

1. A Steady Breath – Joris de Man feat. Julie Elven
2. Riddles in Ruins – The Flight
3. Eyes Open – Oleksa Lozowchuk
4. To Find What Was Lost – Niels van der Leest

See also:

Video Game Soundtracks

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

Soundtrack News: ‘The Longest Road on Earth’ Original Soundtrack Available Now

Sony Music Masterworks has released The Longest Road On Earth (Original Soundtrack), an album of music from the new PC and mobile indie video game.  Available everywhere now, the album includes twenty-four original songs written and performed by game developer & artist Beícoli, marking her first-ever album release. Beícoli (Beatriz Ruiz-Castillo) is a Spanish songwriter and videogame developer based in Madrid, Spain. She has been creating music on her own and for games for the past five years, but The Longest Road on Earth is her first full album-length endeavor.

Created by Brainwash Gang and published by Raw Fury,The Longest Road on Earth is available now on PC and mobile. The Longest Road on Earth is a deeply personal and meditative narrative title. Play in the songs of four short stories featuring stripped down mechanics and no words. Each story is up for interpretation – what story lives inside you for each character and the world around them?

Of the soundtrack, Beícoli says:

­”The Longest Road on Earth has turned out to be something I needed and didn’t even know it. It was a blank slate on which I have learned to use music as a journal. To me it is a long road — One of self-discovery and self-acceptance that I hope to keep walking for the rest of my life.”

THE LONGEST ROAD ON EARTH (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK)

TRACKLISTING – 

  1. The Hill
  2. It is
  3. On my own
  4. I can’t see you
  5. BB
  6. Trip to the Lake
  7. The Picture
  8. The Bird
  9. The Dreamer
  10. The Human
  11. The Goodbye
  12. The train that goes Nowhere
  13. The Remedy
  14. Highway
  15. Healing
  16. 100 Miles
  17. Waves
  18. Let it go
  19. Feels like home
  20. Play Pretend
  21. The Shape of Clouds
  22. Break and Make
  23. Forever and More
  24. The Longest Road on Earth

You can check out the soundtrack for The Longest Road on Earth now!

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 

Soundtrack Review: Returnal (2021)

On May 7th, Milan Records released the original soundtrack to the newest Playstation 5 game Returnal, with the music composed by Bobby Krlic. Best known for his work as the Haxan Cloak, Bobby Krlic brings his experience as an award-winning composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist to Returnal, imbuing the score with a gritty and experimental quality that matches the tone of the third-person shooter game. The album marks Krlic’s first-ever video game title as lead composer and follows his critically acclaimed, award-winning scores for director Ari Aster’s Midsommar, Hulu’s Reprisal, TNT’s Snowpiercer and The Alienist.

Bobby Krlic (aka The Haxan Cloak) is a British artist, composer and record producer based in Los Angeles. Over the past decade, he has created music under The Haxan Cloak, releasing two critically acclaimed full-length albums (The Haxan Cloak and Excavation) and touring extensively as a solo artist, building a devout fanbase. In 2015, Krlic began collaborating with fellow producer and Oscar-winning film composer Atticus Ross on soundtracks including John Hillcoat’s Triple 9 and Michael Mann’s Blackhat. Since then, Krlic has scored a number of major network television shows including TNT’s SnowpiercerThe Alienist: Angel of Darkness and Hulu’s Reprisal as well as a recent collaboration with Swans for Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2. Notably, he wrote the much lauded original soundtrack to Ari Aster’s sophomore feature film Midsommar, for which Krlic received The Ivor Novello for Best Original Score in 2020.

In Returnal, after crash-landing on a shape-shifting alien planet, Selene must search through the barren landscape of an ancient civilization for her escape. Isolated and alone, she finds herself fighting tooth and nail for survival. Again and again, she’s defeated – forced to restart her journey every time she dies. Through relentless roguelike gameplay, you’ll discover that just as the planet changes with every cycle, so do the items at your disposal. Every loop offers new combinations, forcing you to push your boundaries and approach combat with a different strategy each time.

The music for Returnal is, well, it’s really incredible. I was immediately intrigued by the game’s “caught in a time loop” premise and wondered how the game’s music would play into that concept. As far as I can tell, the music does connect to that idea of time repeating itself over and over again, though not in the way I thought it might. Most of the tracks sound warped and distorted, there are sudden, static-like sounds that cut in and out of the music, and my favorite part? There are times when it sounds like voices are cutting in to the music, creating this muddled effect that makes it sound like you really are lost in time.

The instrumental mix is about what you’d expect for a game like Returnal, a combination of electronic instruments and synthesizers mixed in with choral voices. What really caught me by surprise though is how calm the music is for the most part. Given what I’ve heard about this game, I was expecting sci-fi music that was more action-oriented, or at least faster-paced. But it’s nothing like that, and it’s making me seriously reconsider what this game is all about. This sounds like a more cerebral game than I initially thought, and I’m very excited about that. I like games that require you to think and this music makes me think Returnal is one of those games.

If I have one complaint about the soundtrack for Returnal, it’s that it’s surprisingly short, there’s only nine tracks in total. I don’t know if that speaks to the overall length of the game, but I’ve seen some soundtrack albums that are three times as long, and it was startling to see this one be so short.

That minor issue aside, I enjoyed the soundtrack for Returnal, and I think all of you will too.

Returnal Track List

  1. The Crash
  2. The Forest
  3. Helios
  4. Citadel
  5. Murals
  6. Recessed
  7. Motionless
  8. A Mysterious Device
  9. Dream Already Seen

Let me know what you think about Returnal (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Video Game Soundtracks

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

Soundtrack Review: Mortal Kombat (2021)

WaterTower Music has released the soundtrack to New Line Cinema’s explosive new movie Mortal Kombat, which brings to life the intense action of the blockbuster video game franchise in all its brutal glory, pitting the all-time, fan-favorite champions against one another in the ultimate, no-holds-barred, gory battle that pushes them to their very limits. The Mortal Kombat (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) contains all new score by Golden Globe-, Emmy-, and Grammy-nominated composer Benjamin Wallfisch (IT and IT Chapter 2, Shazam, Blade Runner: 2049 [w/ Hans Zimmer]). It features 24 tracks by Wallfisch, who interpreted the film’s themes and emphasized the story’s hard-driving, visceral action through his music.

Director Simon McQuoid discussed working with Wallfisch on the score:

“Ben and I both knew that we needed to use the classic Immortals track ‘Techno Syndrome’ as source material for the entire score of Mortal Kombat. But along with that we knew that an updated elevated version of the song also needed to be created. And Ben certainly delivered! I am so excited by this new 2021 version of the track, when I first heard it, it blew my mind. Actually, Ben kind of blew my mind on a daily basis through the making of this film, so we can all thank Benjamin Wallfisch for his genius and passion in creating ‘Techno Syndrome 2021’.

Wallfisch further elaborated:

“When I was invited to come on board ‘Mortal Kombat,’ I was very aware of the responsibility that comes with scoring a franchise so deeply embedded in pop culture and with such a passionate fanbase. My first question was what can we do with ‘Techno Syndrome,’ a piece of music so much part of the DNA of the game and the original movies? What motifs could be reinvented and blown up to a full-scale symphonic sound world in the score, and might there be room for a full reinvention of the whole song as an EDM single in 2021? A huge thank you to The Immortals for giving us their blessing to reimagine their classic track in this way, as a celebration of the world of Mortal Kombat and its fans, and of the uplifting power of Electronic Dance Music, which the original did so much to light the fuse of 30 years ago.”

I have rarely experienced such a turnaround as what I’ve felt regarding Mortal Kombat. Having minimal contact with the video game series (and the one time I made an effort to play not going particularly well), I was initially on the fence and unable to emotionally invest in the idea of the film at all. But then THAT trailer came out, and I was intrigued. Then came the chance to listen to the soundtrack ahead of its release on April 23…

And I think my brain exploded.

I may have the bad habit of using superlatives too often in my reviews, but please believe me when I say Benjamin Wallfisch’s score for Mortal Kombat is one of the best I’ve ever heard. This isn’t just a soundtrack for an action film, this is an entire world realized through sound and melody and I am here for every last minute of it. During the music for the fight scenes (it’s not hard to tell which ones those are) you can feel every punch and every attack with brutal clarity. For the music alone, I am now itching to see these fight scenes in their proper context, because I need to know how this music connects to the action. And it’s such beautiful music, it has what I like to call “height” which is to say it expands and creates the illusion of space as it goes along. You can literally hear the music grow and soar in certain places, which helps to create the idea of a world existing within the music.

However as I said there’s far more to this soundtrack then just action. Wallfisch also demonstrates a keen ability to take the music in the opposite direction, to slow it down and allow the audience to take a collective breath. That’s an important thing for any film: if the soundtrack is just GO GO GO constantly, it can eventually begin to grate on the ear and become quite tiresome. But the music for Mortal Kombat isn’t like that at all (much to my surprise). There’s plenty of action to go around, but also more than enough moments of calm and relative quiet, though it is more often than not the “calm before the storm” type of quiet. There’s an impressive amount of balancing going on between the two extremes of loud and quiet, and I love it all.

Another detail I like about this soundtrack? The track list doesn’t give too much away regarding plot details. In fact, if I’m reading the track list correctly, most of these tracks appear to be themes for specific characters, which is great because I love thematic-based soundtracks (when done properly). Even so, very little is given away in terms of plot, and that’s great. I’ve seen too many soundtracks where you can suss out the plot of a film from the track list names alone, but you can’t do that here.

I could go on and on about the music for Mortal Kombat, but I’ll wrap it up by saying that listening to this soundtrack has rocketed this film to the top of my must see list for 2021 (and six months ago I couldn’t imagine saying that). If you get the chance, you need to check out this soundtrack independently of the film itself, it is that good.

TRACK LIST

  1. Techno Syndrome 2021 (Mortal Kombat)
  2. Hanzo Hasashi
  3. Lord Raiden
  4. Bi-Han
  5. Shang Tsung
  6. Cole Young
  7. Birthmark
  8. Sonya Blade
  9. Kano v Reptile
  10. Liu Kang
  11. The Great Protector
  12. Sub-Zero
  13. Kung Lao
  14. Origins
  15. Kabal
  16. Goro
  17. Arcana
  18. Jax Briggs
  19. The Void
  20. The Tournament
  21. Sub-Zero v Cole Young
  22. I Am Scorpion
  23. We Fight as One
  24. Get Over Here

Let me know what you think about Mortal Kombat (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 

Building a Fantasy World Through Music: Talking with Composer Ben MacDougall about Godfall (2020)

Recently I had the chance to talk with composer Ben MacDougall about his work on the video game Godfall, which was released for the PS5 in November 2020. Ben MacDougall is a prolific composer for film, TV and video games, who most recently wrote the original fantasy score for Sony PlayStation 5 launch title, Godfall. His rich and diverse portfolio enjoys airtime on prime-time networks and has been featured on high-profile global TV events such as the Olympics and Academy Awards as well as countless franchises, campaigns and AAA studio projects.

Please enjoy our conversation about the music of Godfall!

How did you get started as a composer for video games?

That depends on how far back you want to go! My first major game project was called Duelyst, which was also a project I worked on with Counterplay Games, but before that I had been writing for linear format projects (advertising, tv, film, trailers etc) for a while.

There isn’t a huge difference, musically speaking, between game music and any other music for media. At the end of the day, it’s your job as the composer to tell a story and help create an even deeper emotional experience for the viewer or player. So I guess you could say it was when I started writing music that told a story.

How did you get connected with Godfall and what did you think of the game’s premise?

It’s hard not to fall in love with a premise as bold and exciting as a brand new, beautiful fantasy land – complete with its own deep lore and history! I already knew the developers from our previous project – which was such a blast to work on that Godfall just flowed onwards from that. Especially from a musical perspective, the opportunity to thematically define a new world is pretty enticing. And did I mention all the colors and light? It’s stunning.

If you’ve played the game or even seen some of the promotional art, then you’ll know what I’m talking about: Aperion looks amazing, and the game was clearly made by really talented artists and programmers who love playing games. Godfall also feels great to play, and a lot of attention has gone into making you as a player feel like you’re actually in the world, rather than just playing a game there.

What was your starting point in putting the music for Godfall together? In other words, how do you decide how an epic game like this sounds? That has to be a daunting task (I’ve seen the launch trailer and the game looks incredible), how do you even decide where to begin?

Well, there’s definitely a poetic answer, and a realistic answer for this one. I am always a fan of coming up with solid themes right at the start, and capturing my initial response to the prompt as authentically as possible. However, when it comes down to it, you write what you’re asked to, when you’re asked to! Luckily, in the case of Godfall, the two went hand-in-hand and the first thing I wrote was the ‘Aperion Theme’, which you can find on the soundtrack as Track 03, called ‘Land of the Valorians’.

From that initial point, for a massive project like Godfall it’s really a question of establishing musical parameters and boundaries. There are different elemental realms in this game, and each of those needed its own sound, so the sensible starting point in planning it out was to define each realm’s sonic identity. I basically created word clouds of adjectives and instruments that I thought would work, based on all the source material I’d seen up to that point. That’s not to say you make a bunch of decisions on day one, and then stick rigidly to them. For me, it’s this framework that allows you to explore outwards ‘with intention’ – as you’re doing it consciously and in the context of a larger plan.

By way of example, the Air Realm ended up being sonically focused around the sounds of a tonal hand-drum, rather than the perhaps more obvious choice of using airy flutes and other wind instruments. There is no way I would have ever thought “Air Realm = Drum” on day one, but within the larger mesh of these loose constraints, the discovery and subsequent decision made sense.

How much time did you have to score Godfall? How did you go about recording with the pandemic going on?

The project has been on the cards for a while – I wrote the first notes for it perhaps two or three years ago at this point. However, late 2019 onwards was ‘go time’.

The pandemic made recording harder for sure – but recording is fairly easy to do ‘socially distant’! For instance, in the sessions I did with soprano, Laurence Servaes, she was in a separate isolated room – along with a rather fancy silent HEPA filter! You can communicate with someone in a recording room really easily, so in that sense not much else changed – aside from the fact that coffee breaks were WAY less fun than usual.

As the score was coming together, did you have any rough game footage to use for inspiration or for the recording process? Or was it more going off storyboards and/or animatics? Or something else entirely? Maybe I’m still conflating the video game process with recording for films, but I keep imagining that at some point a video game composer also has footage to look at in the same way that a film composer does.

A little bit of everything really. Sometimes it was concept art, sometimes play-throughs of different areas of the map. Sometimes its was an entire boss encounter and other times it was just a ton of adjectives or emotional language to describe what was needed!

I’d be tackling different areas of the game that were in different stages of development, so I’d always ask for whatever I could get my hands on and write to that – just by having it on in the background. As game music is a non-linear format, it wasn’t frame-synced or anything (unless it was a cinematic or something that required it), but it was always nice to overlay as much as possible, visually speaking. It makes it really easy to see what does or doesn’t work that way.

Are there over-arching themes in the music? It sounds like the music is connected in more than several places, and I was curious if this was the case.

Yes! There are various themes and motifs that pop up throughout. These include the aforementioned ‘Aperion Theme’, the main ‘Godfall Theme’ and other similarly weighty material – like the different themes for each realm. There are also shorter motifs and sub-themes that pop up a lot – either in their complete forms or in fragments here and there – all in the service of grounding the score to the world and helping to tie everything together.

“The better a score is, the less you hear it” is something that you get told a lot in college. The idea, basically, is that the music exists in the project to assist in telling the story, not to take center stage. The weaving of themes is a useful way to subconsciously guide the audience to a certain conclusion, or give them a sense of where they are, or who someone is, without actually saying it.

There are other little, more subtle touches that I wanted to include too. I clearly don’t want to go revealing everything that’s tucked away in the score, but if you listen to the main ‘Godfall Theme’, (which is effectively Orin’s Theme), you’ll hear that it is very closely related to the theme for his brother, Macros. One is heroic, and one is much darker…. but they share the same DNA. I thought that was a cool thing to do, without being too obvious about it.

Do you have a favorite piece in the soundtrack? Is there one in particular that you hope gamers notice while they’re playing?

Honestly, there is one little (and rather quiet) easter egg tucked away in there that I’m hoping someone finds one day. But that tidbit aside, there is such variety in the score as a whole that there are going to be different moments that resonate differently with different people – especially as everyone has a subtly different experience with the music due to the interactive nature of gaming.

I’ve had messages about bits of brooding Water Realm music, right through to the music in the end-credits, which is a unique take on the main theme. For me though, I’ve always been thrilled with how the track called ‘Song of Aperion’ (Track 28) turned out. The combination of cello and voice – and the purity of the sound still gives me goosebumps.

I want to say thank you again to Ben MacDougall for taking the time to speak with me about his work on Godfall.

Let me know what you think about Godfall and its soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Soundtrack Review: Godfall (2020)

Composer Interviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack News: Final Fantasy VII Remake Original Soundtrack Available Now

The original soundtrack for the acclaimed Final Fantasy VII Remake has finally arrived! This long-awaited soundtrack album was released today by Square Enix and Sony Masterworks. The soundtrack features over 150 tracks and more than 8 hours of original music from composers Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu, Mitsuto Suzuki and others. It also features the game’s end credits theme song “Hollow” by Yosh.

You can see the complete track list below.

The original soundtrack for the Final Fantasy VII Remake is available now on all music streaming services.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –

  1. FFVII REMAKE: The Prelude – Reunion
  2. FFVII REMAKE: Midgar, City of Mako
  3. FFVII REMAKE: Bombing Mission
  4. FFVII REMAKE: Let the Battles Begin! – Ex-SOLDIER
  5. FFVII REMAKE: Mako Reactor 1
  6. FFVII REMAKE: Mako Reactor 1 – Battle Edit
  7. FFVII REMAKE: Scorpion Sentinel
  8. FFVII REMAKE: Getaway
  9. FFVII REMAKE: Shinra’s Theme
  10. FFVII REMAKE: Those Chosen by the Planet
  11. FFVII REMAKE: The Promised Land – Cycle of Souls
  12. FFVII REMAKE: Chance Meeting in Sector 8
  13. FFVII REMAKE: Let the Battles Begin! – Break Through
  14. FFVII REMAKE: A Close Call
  15. FFVII REMAKE: Shinra Creed
  16. FFVII REMAKE: Shining Beacon of Civilization
  17. FFVII REMAKE: Tifa’s Theme – Seventh Heaven
  18. FFVII REMAKE: Noises in the Night
  19. FFVII REMAKE: Mako Poisoning
  20. FFVII REMAKE: Main Theme of FFVII – Sector 7 Undercity
  21. FFVII REMAKE: Avalanche’s Theme
  22. FFVII REMAKE: Scrap Boulevard Cleanup Crew
  23. FFVII REMAKE: Johnny’s Theme
  24. FFVII REMAKE: Let the Battles Begin! – A Merc’s Job
  25. FFVII REMAKE: On Our Way
  26. FFVII REMAKE: The Star of Seventh Heaven
  27. FFVII REMAKE: Lurking in the Darkness – Suspicious Man
  28. FFVII REMAKE: Just Another Job
  29. FFVII REMAKE: Lay Down Some Rubber – Let’s Ride
  30. FFVII REMAKE: Midnight Spiral
  31. FFVII REMAKE: Speed Demon
  32. FFVII REMAKE: The Red Zone
  33. FFVII REMAKE: RUN RUN RUN
  34. FFVII REMAKE: Jessie’s Theme
  35. FFVII REMAKE: Moonlight Thievery
  36. FFVII REMAKE: A Tower, a Promise
  37. FFVII REMAKE: S7-6 Annex Diversion
  38. FFVII REMAKE: Ignition Flame
  39. FFVII REMAKE: Under Cover of Smoke
  40. FFVII REMAKE: Main Theme of FFVII – Nightfall in the Undercity
  41. FFVII REMAKE: Whispers’ Theme
  42. FFVII REMAKE: A New Operation
  43. FFVII REMAKE: Target: Mako Reactor 5
  44. FFVII REMAKE: Hurry!
  45. FFVII REMAKE: Dogged Pursuit
  46. FFVII REMAKE: Born Survivors – Section C
  47. FFVII REMAKE: Born Survivors – Section E
  48. FFVII REMAKE: Crab Warden
  49. FFVII REMAKE: Undercity Suns
  50. FFVII REMAKE: Tightrope
  51. FFVII REMAKE: Maze of Scrap Metal
  52. FFVII REMAKE: Critical Shot
  53. FFVII REMAKE: Game Over
  54. FFVII REMAKE: The Rendezvous Point
  55. FFVII REMAKE: A Trap Is Sprung
  56. FFVII REMAKE: The Airbuster
  57. FFVII REMAKE: Who Am I?
  58. FFVII REMAKE: The Turks’ Theme
  59. FFVII REMAKE: The Turks: Reno
  60. FFVII REMAKE: Flowers Blooming in the Church
  61. FFVII REMAKE: Under the Rotting Pizza
  62. FFVII REMAKE: Anxiety
  63. FFVII REMAKE: Aerith’s Theme – Home Again
  64. FFVII REMAKE: Hollow Skies
  65. FFVII REMAKE: Let the Battles Begin! – The Hideout
  66. FFVII REMAKE: Whack-a-Box
  67. FFVII REMAKE: Midnight Rendezvous
  68. FFVII REMAKE: Collapsed Expressway
  69. FFVII REMAKE: High Five
  70. FFVII REMAKE: The Oppressed – Beck’s Badasses
  71. FFVII REMAKE: Due Recompense
  72. FFVII REMAKE: Wall Market – The Town That Never Sleeps
  73. FFVII REMAKE: Wall Market – Chocobo Sam
  74. FFVII REMAKE: Wall Market – Madam M
  75. FFVII REMAKE: The Most Muscular
  76. FFVII REMAKE: An Unforgettable Night
  77. FFVII REMAKE: The Sweetest Honey
  78. FFVII REMAKE: Luxury Massage
  79. FFVII REMAKE: Tonight’s Corneo Cup
  80. FFVII REMAKE: Corneo Colosseum
  81. FFVII REMAKE: Colosseum Death Match
  82. FFVII REMAKE: Just Desserts
  83. FFVII REMAKE: Electric Executioners
  84. FFVII REMAKE: Hell House
  85. FFVII REMAKE: Victory Fanfare
  86. FFVII REMAKE: A Certain Gaudiness
  87. FFVII REMAKE: Let the Battles Begin! -REMAKE-
  88. FFVII REMAKE: Stand Up
  89. FFVII REMAKE: Funk with Me
  90. FFVII REMAKE: Sync or Swim
  91. FFVII REMAKE: Vibe Valentino
  92. FFVII REMAKE: Stand Up – Reprise
  93. FFVII REMAKE: Don of the Slums
  94. FFVII REMAKE: The Audition
  95. FFVII REMAKE: Smash ‘Em, Rip ‘Em
  96. FFVII REMAKE: Abzu
  97. FFVII REMAKE: Rough Waters
  98. FFVII REMAKE: Darkness Ahead
  99. FFVII REMAKE: Any Last Words?
  100. FFVII REMAKE: Ascension
  101. FFVII REMAKE: Train Graveyard
  102. FFVII REMAKE: Haunted
  103. FFVII REMAKE: Come On, This Way
  104. FFVII REMAKE: Ghoul
  105. FFVII REMAKE: Alone
  106. FFVII REMAKE: Black Wind
  107. FFVII REMAKE: Waiting to Be Found
  108. FFVII REMAKE: Eligor
  109. FFVII REMAKE: Fight for Survival
  110. FFVII REMAKE: Come Back to Us
  111. FFVII REMAKE: Cheap Play
  112. FFVII REMAKE: Those in Need
  113. FFVII REMAKE: Slums on Fire
  114. FFVII REMAKE: Get to Safety!
  115. FFVII REMAKE: Aerith and Marlene – A Familiar Flower
  116. FFVII REMAKE: Limited Options
  117. FFVII REMAKE: The Look on Her Face
  118. FFVII REMAKE: Rematch atop the Pillar
  119. FFVII REMAKE: Return to the Planet
  120. FFVII REMAKE: A Broken World
  121. FFVII REMAKE: Daughter’s Farewell
  122. FFVII REMAKE: Infinity’s End
  123. FFVII REMAKE: Wild de Chocobo
  124. FFVII REMAKE: Leslie’s Theme
  125. FFVII REMAKE: The Day Midgar Stood Still
  126. FFVII REMAKE: Fires of Resistance
  127. FFVII REMAKE: A Solemn Sunset
  128. FFVII REMAKE: The Valkyrie
  129. FFVII REMAKE: The Shinra Building
  130. FFVII REMAKE: Operation: Save Aerith
  131. FFVII REMAKE: All Quiet at the Gates
  132. FFVII REMAKE: Hand over Hand
  133. FFVII REMAKE: Scarlet’s Theme
  134. FFVII REMAKE: Stewards of the Planet
  135. FFVII REMAKE: Corporate Archives
  136. FFVII REMAKE: Cultivating Madness
  137. FFVII REMAKE: Another Day at Shinra HQ
  138. FFVII REMAKE: The Turks’ Theme – Office
  139. FFVII REMAKE: Home Away from Home
  140. FFVII REMAKE: Infiltrating Shinra HQ
  141. FFVII REMAKE: The Drum
  142. FFVII REMAKE: Catastrophe
  143. FFVII REMAKE: Final Experiment
  144. FFVII REMAKE: Trail of Blood
  145. FFVII REMAKE: J-E-N-O-V-A – Quickening
  146. FFVII REMAKE: Rufus Shinra
  147. FFVII REMAKE: The Arsenal
  148. FFVII REMAKE: Midgar Expressway
  149. FFVII REMAKE: Arbiter of Fate – Advent
  150. FFVII REMAKE: Arbiter of Fate – Rebirth
  151. FFVII REMAKE: Arbiter of Fate – Singularity
  152. FFVII REMAKE: I’m Waiting, Cloud
  153. FFVII REMAKE: One-Winged Angel – Rebirth
  154. FFVII REMAKE: Seven Seconds till the End
  155. FFVII REMAKE: Hollow
  156. FFVII REMAKE: Credits

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook