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Game Design; Music Takes on a Hollywood Edge
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Subjects: Personal profiles; Composers; Computer & video games
Author: Pham, Alex
Date: Dec 27, 2001
Start Page: T.5
Section: Tech Times; Business Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

It's not that game developers have suddenly acquired an appreciation for music. The sophistication in game music comes from advances in computing power and memory, allowing for playback of vast amounts of high-fidelity audio. In fact, the concept of interactive music has been around since 1991, when LucasArts developed iMUSE, a proprietary program that changed the music according to what was occurring in the game.

Answer: It was very different from how I usually work. The very essence of composing for a film is to write music to every single frame. But I never saw this video game. And it wasn't finished when I completed the music. Instead, I had to write music based on a number of adjectives and a number of hypothetical situations that the hero might find himself in. So it was rather like writing a series of modules, a series of pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that later would have to be put back together in a way that had nothing to do with me, thankfully. For instance, I wrote a series of music pieces titled "sneaky," where I had to imagine the main character sneaking around unseen, unheard. There was a lot of tension perhaps, but not a lot of action. And I was writing it to various degrees, from being quite safe to being on the edge of some action taking place. Then I would take another adjective, for instance "action," and do the same thing. Perhaps he was being heroic. Or in a perilous situation.

[Harry Gregson-Williams], who scored the music for the video game "Metal Gear Solid 2'' as a creative experiment, works in his Santa Monica studio.; PHOTOGRAPHER: RICHARD HARTOG / Los Angeles Times

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