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Video Sport Composers: Thematic Approaches to Sport Music (GDC)

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By Winifred Phillips | Contact | Adjust to

Hey everyone! I’m on-line recreation composer Winifred Phillips, and I’m excited to share that I will likely be giving a chat on the upcoming Sport Builders Conference! My communicate is entitled, “Composing for Lineage M: Modular Constructing in Sport Music,” and it’s taking place on Wednesday March twenty third at 10:30 am PT (1:30pm ET). In my presentation, I will likely be specializing in my experience composing music for a recreation in one of many essential worthwhile on-line recreation franchises of all time – the Lineage MMORPG franchise from NCSoft. All through my communicate, I will likely be sharing particulars of the music composition course of for this superior problem, along with how thematic content material materials was included into the matrix of musical components that normal the development of the Lineage M musical ranking.

I can’t be coming into into loads factor in regards to the substance of my upcoming GDC presentation on this text. Nonetheless, it occurred to me that musical themes are a popular dialogue matter that has come up in a number of my earlier GDC shows. With that in ideas, I assumed I’d provide a quick analysis of the subject, along with some content material materials from just some of my earlier GDC talks. I’ve confined this dialogue to my GDC durations which can be truly obtainable to view freed from cost of their entirety by the use of the flicks guidelines inside the Sport Builders Conference Official YouTube channel. You may even see that I’ve embedded the full-length YouTube motion pictures of those talks beneath, in case you’d want to see the lectures of their entirety. For each of these presentation motion pictures, I’ve moreover included just some transient lecture extracts that contact upon the associated topic materials. So let’s get started!

How thematic content material materials benefits from a linear technique


I was deeply gratified to review that my presentation from GDC 2021 was one of many essential highly-rated talks by GDC conference attendees – my lecture was entitled “From Spyder to Sackboy: A Massive Journey in Interactive Music.” Whereas my presentation focused carefully on structural points for dynamic implementation, I moreover touched upon the perform of thematic content material materials inside video video games, and the perform carried out by linear building in enabling a thematic technique:

“Dynamic music differs from linear music in fundamental strategies. Linear music is a single contiguous unit with a beginning, middle and end, nevertheless dynamic music is a modular assembly of half elements. The art work of interactive music creation and implementation is not nearly understanding and deploying interactive music strategies. It is usually about making an attempt on the nuts and bolts of these strategies and seeing lots of divergent prospects.”

Linear music has a set beginning, middle, and end. Linear music can further completely uncover its ideas without having to stress about how a dynamic system might impression an instrumental affiliation, juggle the event of musical content material materials, or truncate melodic traces. These factors are solvable, nevertheless linear music undoubtedly provides an added breadth of creative freedom. Is it potential to guard these advantages whereas instilling dynamic efficiency into our tracks?

Preserving the integrity of melodic themes inside a dynamic implementation framework is a tricky downside, and it was numerous satisfying to find this matter in my lecture closing yr! It’s possible you’ll uncover this explicit matter talked about at 26:55 inside the video beneath:

How thematic content material materials benefits from repetition and variation


My presentation from the Sport Builders Conference 2020 centered on thematic content material materials in recreation music. As a further in-depth exploration of the topic, I was ready to utilize a variety of examples from my earlier initiatives as an illustration quite a few strategies by which themes is perhaps used inside video video games. Entitled “From Assassin’s Creed to The Darkish Eye: The Significance of Themes,” my GDC 2020 communicate explored the musical scores from these well-known franchises with the intention to emphasise the importance of their melodic content material materials. In these initiatives, themes proved to be the best strategies to bolster the emotional impression of gameplay. One in every of many recurring topics all through my GDC 2020 communicate centered on the power of thematic repetition. Listed beneath are just some extracts from that dialogue:

“Sport music has a novel capability to stipulate the identification of a recreation, and help players take into accout it. Nonetheless to make sure that the music to remind players of the game, we have to make certain that we compose the music to be as memorable as potential . That’s the place themes can be found in.”

“Repetition is extremely efficient – whether or not or not it’s a daring and dynamic melody line, or a fragile chord growth. If a element pops up all through music composition that seems glorious for recurrence, we have to be ready to acknowledge that and act on it.”

“Everybody is aware of that repetition can get stale if we don’t technique it creatively. So that brings us to the topic of variation – recommendations on how you can maintain themes feeling modern.”

“When variation shouldn’t be adequate and we’ve got to go further, we are going to break our themes apart and use fragments of them instead of the whole.”

Thematic repetition and variation are important devices for a recreation music composer, and allow us to extend the utility and viability of thematic content material materials, even all through the restrictions of a dynamic implementation framework. It’s possible you’ll uncover the whole dialogue of theme and repetition at 15:30 inside the video beneath:

How fragmentation extends the utility of themes


Together with my formal lecture all through GDC 2020, I was moreover delighted to participate in an informal Q&A session all through the GDC Summer season event, carried out by expert session moderator Alissa McAloon (in the mean time the Editor-in-Chief of All through the wide-ranging dialogue, we touched with reference to thematic progress in video video games. In our casual, off-the-cuff dialogue, we’ve got been ready to find among the many finer particulars of thematic composition in video video games:

“I wish to interrupt themes down. State them in a very recognizable and dynamic strategy when it’s an important, set-piece second inside the recreation, and likewise you want to create a musical signature for the problem. Nonetheless then you might break it down into Motives, small segments, just a few notes… one factor which is probably not consciously acknowledged as a part of that theme. Then you might sprinkle it elsewhere and it merely communicates in a unconscious strategy to the participant. with out truly being overt about it. And you’ll even use them as figures. Ostinatos. It’s possible you’ll restructure a theme to be an underlying pattern, with completely different distinctive supplies on prime. That may be a strategy to moreover assert the theme, with out it being a foreground issue. It is not front-of-consciousness, but it surely absolutely’s nonetheless there, asserting an identification. I really feel that’s on a regular basis an superior issue to aim to strive for – to sprinkle a means of identification into each half you might be doing.”

It’s possible you’ll uncover this dialogue of themes in on-line recreation composition at 11:42 inside the video beneath:


I hope you will have liked this retrospective encompassing the dialogue of themes in just some of my earlier GDC lectures. I’m truly making an attempt forward to presenting my GDC 2022 lecture, “Composing for Lineage M: Modular Constructing in Sport Music.” My lecture will occur on March the twenty third at 10:30 am PT (1:30pm ET). Moreover, if you happen to occur to’re planning on attending GDC 2022 nearly by the use of the All Entry On-line Solely Transfer, you may watch my GDC presentation by the use of the conference’s digital platform!


Winifred Phillips is a BAFTA-nominated on-line recreation composer whose most recent problem is the music for one in all many latest blockbuster releases inside the lineage assortment (one in all many highest-grossing on-line recreation franchises of all time). Present initiatives embody the hit PlayStation 5 launch title Sackboy: A Massive Journey (soundtrack album now obtainable). Phillips’ customary and award-winning Assassin’s Creed Liberation ranking was these days singled out by GameSpot as their favorite inside the franchise, naming it one in all many “biggest on-line recreation soundtracks you might stream.” As an accomplished on-line recreation composer, Phillips is biggest recognized for composing music for video video games in 5 of primarily probably the most well-known and customary franchises in gaming: God of Battle, Full Battle, The Sims, Assassin’s Creed, and Sackboy / LittleBigPlanet Phillips has acquired fairly a number of awards, along with an Interactive Achievement Award / DICE Award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, six Sport Audio Group Guild Awards (along with Music of the Yr), and three Hollywood Music in Media Awards. She is the author of the award-winning bestseller A COMPOSER’S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC, revealed by the MIT Press. As one in all many foremost authorities on music for interactive leisure, Winifred Phillips has given lectures on the Library of Congress in Washington DC, the Society of Composers and Lyricists, the Sport Builders Conference, the Audio Engineering Society, and plenty of further. Phillips ‘enthusiastic followers her showered her with questions all through a Reddit Ask-Me-One thing session that went viral, hit the Reddit entrance net web page, acquired 14.9 thousand upvotes, and have turn into one of many essential customary gaming AMAs ever hosted on Reddit. An interview collectively along with her is now featured as a part of the Routledge textual content material, Ladies’s Music for the Show: Varied Narratives in Sound, which collects the viewpoints of primarily probably the most esteemed female composers in film, television, and video video games. Comply along with her on Twitter @winphillips.