Music For Node.Hack
At a speaker’s lunch at the Casual Connect convention I sat down next to a fellow who shook my hand, “Charles Cox, Microsoft.” He saw my company name tag, “You guys do music? Great, I need some.” A moment later he had his phone out and was showing me his game. I thought – Things move fast these days, then the momentary fear – He expects me to get my phone out and write the music, right now! Perhaps he caught my look, for he laughed, “Oh, I’m not quite ready for music yet.” As I watched him play I had to suppress my impulse to wrestle his phone from him – the game looked like fun.
I’m usually a blabbermouth in situations like that lunch, but had the sense to hold my tongue as Charles and Shane Neville of Ninja Robot Dinosaur from Vancouver, another big time game veteran, began the most energetic and informative half hour of lunch conversation I’ve ever heard. I left knowing a lot more about everything from games to world finance.
A few months later he was ready for music. He had a piece of temp music he liked. I liked it too. It avoided the obvious choice of a techno track for a chilled out, slightly mysterious feel. I explained to him that at Manchester Music we don’t do Knock-offs. Not just because of the risk of getting hit with a breach of copyright lawsuit, but because after 30 years as a composer and publisher I think it’s plain wrong to take someone else’s work, change a few chords around and call it your own. We could achieve a similar style and feel without stealing.
I called Krishna Venkatesh, our electronic music wizard, a veteran of countless nationally broadcast commercials and of independent films. This was his first game, but I knew he could nail it.
Krishna’s first stab at the track caught the right vibe and energy level, but I thought it was a little too jazzy. Charles felt the same way. Truth is that for all its merits Jazz Fusion just doesn’t work well in games.
Krishna came up with a progression made of simple triads characterisitic of rock and pop rather than denser jazz chords. It worked.
Charles wanted to save space by using MP3’s. That posed a problem – MP3’s don’t loop without glitches. Krishna solved it by making loops that ramp up and down to silence – covering the glitch.
We were almost home. Except for the tweaks. I counted 18 emails back and forth between Charles and I before we got everything just so– which is par for the course.
Now if I can just get hold of a Windows Phone, I can play….