Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sound Design: Music

Now I'll take another break from characters to make a small post about sound, specifically the musical genre and composition that SatLoA requires. Some may not realize how much of an impact sound design carries on any game. Much like film, music and sound effects have a large affect on how the player views the game. Scene and mood are very determined by music, and more so in a Sonic game, where music has always played a large part of the series. If SatLoA were to be a success, it would need to have good music.

Music Design:
The first thing that needs to be set down with SatLoA music is the genre. With SatLoA, I'll be moving away from the 80's rock that has been the series staple up until recently (there will be no rock guitar, period), and even away from the two beat music. Instead, SatLoA will feature music with a primarily four beat rhythm: electronica/dance music with an ethnic twist. The music should follow this trend, being very upbeat and catchy with a fast beat in the style of electronica/dance (exceptions may occur obviously based on the needed mood). 

The catch with this genre is that very rarely should the music use a majority of electronic insturmentation. At any given point, roughly 1/2 of the music should be comprised of authentic instruments that are able to be melded with the main melody. The end result should be music in which the primary melody is electronic and beats, and the secondary melody is made of ethnic instruments.

Theme Instruments:
Each and every type of music created for SatLoA should have a distinct live instrument associated with it. For example, each character should have a specific instrument melody woven into his or her theme music that would represent that character. For example, Shadow's theme instrument should be an acoustic bass guitar, while Amy's could be tubular bells or wood chimes. However, in fitting with the musical design of the game, none of these instruments would be modern, but at least 50 years old or better. The older and more unique, the better.

Exception: Modern instrumentation may be used when needed, or as fun "bonus soundtrack" mixes if the composers are kicking around a fun idea. Unlockables are always great and would allow for a longer OST collection.

Compositional Theme and Emotion:
Each character theme should also endeavor to follow a particular style of musical theme. The earlier referred theme of Prince Shadow for example, should focus on evoking the personality of his character through the melody. Therefore, on each composition the composer should be familiar with the story, emotion and background of what each piece will become part of. The aforementioned theme for Prince Shadow then, should be a somewhat estranged but noble theme, hinting at his honor and loneliness, but also shining with a hopeful feeling. Sonic's on the otherhand, should be a fast upbeat song representing his freedom of mind and personality.

Types of Musical Themes:
Composition categories for SatLoA
Level Themes
Character Themes
Boss Themes (plus pinch mode)
Event Themes
Cutscene Themes
Ending Themes (Credits Medley and SatLoA themes)
Some themes may face multiple usages (IE Boss and Cutscene music) so some themes may need adjustment or alteration accordingly.

Possibility of Licensed Musical Artists for Theme:
In the event of a licensed musical group performing a song (pre-conceived or otherwise) to serve as a trailer and bonus theme song for SatLoA, I would suggest the Eurodance group Bloom 06 be brought on to recreate a new version of "Back in Time" (which they performed as Eiffel 65) much like they redid their song "Blue (Da ba dee)" except using the instrumentation and musical composition methods of SatLoA. Given Sega's preference for springing for musical talent to produce themes for Sonic games as of late, this is entirely plausible and the song "Back in Time" fits the games theme very well.

Comments welcome!

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