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Questions about Composing video game music..I'd really appreciate some answers.


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True dat. I know i would. I'm still kinda looking around for good orchestra/choir samples and vst's....one day. :D

EastWest keeps sending me emails about sales they are having for 2 or more VSTs, even after I told them not to. Maybe you should check the EastWest stuff on soundsonline.com (They make EWQLSO and Symphonic Choir)

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I need a library with pretty much all your standard instruments but i'd also like a library full of really amazing softsynth and hardsynth sounds. Does anyone know of any like that?

I posted asking a similar question not too long ago.

Zircon referred me to Synth1. Google it.

Here's the thing. If you want to really play with synths, you should play with oscillators and learn that way. It might seem tedious at first but you'd be surprised how many cool sounds you can pull out with just this free one. I've been playing with it for the last week and a half or so and I'm loving it. Synth1 should be easy to find on Google.

After you get the idea of how they work you can go shopping for ones requiring purchase. I'm looking at FM8 as my next one, personally. (But I'm holding off until I actually feel limited by Synth1).

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When it comes to synths, get FreeAlpha. It's free, multiplatform, has a neat user interface, and a nice smooth sound through its built-in chorus effect. One lfo, two envelopes, and an easy-to-learn mod matrix. Comes with some cool presets too.

The thing is, with synths you can make your own sounds. Samples take up memory, processing power, space, time to download/install, while synths just take up processing power (how much depends on the synth). You don't have to load up tons of samples into memory or stream from disc all the time, and you can customize anything you want with the sound.

lol, "hardsynth"? Softsynth means software synth, it's got nothing to do with the sound. :P (eg, I've been playing with FreeAlpha for a few days now, made a few cool sounds mostly as synth patch making practice. Organ, gliding lead, reso bass, comping saw, warm pad, synth brass... All of which you could do as well.

I suggest you just learn to use free synths. Getting a well rounded package with decent sampled instruments and sounds isn't a bad thing, but you need to learn to work those controls to get the right sound out of them... and sometimes you just need your very own synth sound.

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lol, "hardsynth"? Softsynth means software synth, it's got nothing to do with the sound. :P (eg, I've been playing with FreeAlpha for a few days now, made a few cool sounds mostly as synth patch making practice. Organ, gliding lead, reso bass, comping saw, warm pad, synth brass... All of which you could do as well.

I'm glad you said it. It was going to sound rude coming from me.

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an easy-to-learn mod matrix.

however easy you think it's to learn, a matrix looks very daunting to most noobs.

imo, give em a synth with a firmly predefined structure to learn the basics.

when i was a noob, i enjoyed just randomly tweaking knobs and seeing what happened. just doing that was enough to make me understand the bare basics of synthesis, and i didn't even notice at the time.

that definitely doesn't work as well with a mod matrix, so i'd leave it to intermediate synthesists.

some people have the attention span and determination to delve into more complex stuff right away, but on average a playful approach works best imo.

/Synth1 +1 :)

or WaspXT, or TAL-Elek7ro, or MinimogueVA or whichever of the 257 good sounding, simple, free synths floats your boat.

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Where would one go (besides google) to research and learn about these things?

GREAT QUESTION!

Unfortunately, the tech is as such that any really good book is probably going to be outdated pretty darn quick.

Best thing for the moment is to actually google these technologies, to go to the websites for them, and actually download the program (most are free for academic use) and read their tutorials and documentation.

If there is a school teaching FMOD and Wwise, great, if there is a school teaching UDK, great! Go, if you can, but if you can't, you have to take it upon yourself to go to the next step--and honestly, game companies KNOW this.

They know how hard it is to get into this cutting-edge technology and they respect people who can sit there and teach themselves something without anyone else making themselves.

It means it's going to be easier to train you on existing engines or even on proprietary engines. It means that you are intelligent, a self-starter, a fast-learner, etc, etc, etc. All the things you want to put on your resume when you're going for a job, learning this stuff SHOWS you mean it.

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however easy you think it's to learn, a matrix looks very daunting to most noobs.

imo, give em a synth with a firmly predefined structure to learn the basics.

when i was a noob, i enjoyed just randomly tweaking knobs and seeing what happened. just doing that was enough to make me understand the bare basics of synthesis, and i didn't even notice at the time.

that definitely doesn't work as well with a mod matrix, so i'd leave it to intermediate synthesists.

Nah, the mod matrix will just sit there until you do something with it. I ignored the ES2 mod matrix, but once I initialized the synth (set all parameters to 0 or off or sine or whatever) and tried it once, I realized how easy it actually was to control the sound with it. Same with FreeAlpha, it looked intimidating even after I learned the ES2's twice as complicated system, but once it's blank and you can add one thing at a time, you realize how easy it is to use. That's what I said before, easy-to-use.

I've never used Synth1, but screenshots reveal the interface is ugly and cluttered. I still say FreeAlpha is among the best synths for a newb, mainly because of its clean interface, and despite the mod matrix. :P

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lol, "hardsynth"? Softsynth means software synth, it's got nothing to do with the sound. :P (eg, I've been playing with FreeAlpha for a few days now, made a few cool sounds mostly as synth patch making practice. Organ, gliding lead, reso bass, comping saw, warm pad, synth brass... All of which you could do as well.

MTV music generator 2 catagorizes them that way. Hardsynth has synthesizer sounds that that have a harder sort of grinding quality to the sound of each sample. Softsynth sounds have a softer tone such as string synths and bells stuff like that. I suppose outside of that it means something different but thats how I always understood it.

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GREAT QUESTION!

Unfortunately, the tech is as such that any really good book is probably going to be outdated pretty darn quick.

Best thing for the moment is to actually google these technologies, to go to the websites for them, and actually download the program (most are free for academic use) and read their tutorials and documentation.

If there is a school teaching FMOD and Wwise, great, if there is a school teaching UDK, great! Go, if you can, but if you can't, you have to take it upon yourself to go to the next step--and honestly, game companies KNOW this.

They know how hard it is to get into this cutting-edge technology and they respect people who can sit there and teach themselves something without anyone else making themselves.

It means it's going to be easier to train you on existing engines or even on proprietary engines. It means that you are intelligent, a self-starter, a fast-learner, etc, etc, etc. All the things you want to put on your resume when you're going for a job, learning this stuff SHOWS you mean it.

So is it fair to say that not only do you have to learn how to make music for games but you have to learn programming to some extent too?

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So is it fair to say that not only do you have to learn how to make music for games but you have to learn programming to some extent too?

No, these engines are not just for programmers, to be more accurate, you have to understand audio implementation and engine design.

FMOD and Wwise, for example, both have designer oriented tools--like one half is design oriented and one half is the programming API.

Knowing the designer side will take you pretty far.

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But just like your sketching and anatomy knowledge will land you a job as 3d modeling artist faster, knowledge of composing and orchestration will weigh heavier than knowing whatever software or hardware.

Yeah, I always thought programming tracks to fade in and out and strike up different cues and all that was the audio programmer/syncer's job, not necessarily the job of the composer.

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Yeah, I always thought programming tracks to fade in and out and strike up different cues and all that was the audio programmer/syncer's job, not necessarily the job of the composer.

The tools I'm describing are not designed for programmers as there is no actual coding involved, these tools are designed for composers, sound designers, and audio implementers.

Sometimes that's you, sometimes it's not.

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You'd be shocked to learn some of the things you're expected to do on even the smallest music job.

I still am.

Really?...geez...well i'm somewhat okay with my composing I just need to learn how to mix and produce songs better and I guess now I have to learn all this other stuff. I always thought that the programmers or sound people would just tell you how they wanted your songs and then when you finished the song they'd do the rest. I'm glad though that I found out now. I'm glad everyone here is so knowledgeable and helpful.

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Really?...geez...well i'm somewhat okay with my composing I just need to learn how to mix and produce songs better and I guess now I have to learn all this other stuff. I always thought that the programmers or sound people would just tell you how they wanted your songs and then when you finished the song they'd do the rest. I'm glad though that I found out now. I'm glad everyone here is so knowledgeable and helpful.

They can. The realm of responsibilities for a sound person in games is pretty broad and varied and may or may not include the following:

* Provide Sound or Music Concept or Prototype Work

* Compose Music

* Sequence Existing Music

* Edit Existing Music

* Mix/Master Existing Music

* Orchestrate or Arrange Existing Music

* Provide Copywork or Clerical Prep for Recording Sessions

* Provide Sound Design (including Foley, Synthesis, and Field Recording)

* Design an Audio Engine

* Provide Instrumental Performance

* Arrange Contracts for Outsourced Services and Cast External Talent

* Direct Instrumental/Voice Recording Sessions

* Provide Voice Acting

* Make Purchasing Decisions

* Manage a Team

* Coordinate Inter-Departmental Communications

* Coordinate External-Departmental Communications

* Prepare Presentations

* Author the Audio Design Document

* Maintain Departmental Sound and Music Library

When I was Audio Lead with WAISoft, my responsibilities were more like this:

* Provide Sound or Music Concept or Prototype Work

* Compose Music

* Provide Sound Design (including Foley, Synthesis, and Field Recording)

* Design an Audio Engine (in concert with Audio Programmer)

* Provide Instrumental Performance

* Make Purchasing Recommendations

* Coordinate Inter-Departmental Communications

* Coordinate External-Departmental Communications

* Prepare Presentations

* Author the Audio Design Document

* Maintain Departmental Sound and Music Library

When I was Contract Composer with WAISoft, my responsibilities were more like this:

* Provide Sound or Music Concept or Prototype Work

* Compose Music

* Orchestrate or Arrange Existing Music

* Provide Copywork or Clerical Prep for Recording Sessions

* Arrange Contracts for Outsourced Services and Cast External Talent

* Direct Instrumental/Voice Recording Sessions

As Arranger/Producer under contract with LucasArts, my responsibilities are more like this:

* Sequence Existing Music

* Edit Existing Music

* Mix/Master Existing Music

* Orchestrate or Arrange Existing Music

* Provide Copywork or Clerical Prep for Recording Sessions

I've definitely had indie gigs where my responsibilities were limited to one or two of those list items.

How remote you are or how high-up you are on the development chain usually dictates your level of interaction with the producers, the programmers, the designers, and other members of the audio team. It also usually dictates how involved you are in the design and implementation of the audio engine.

But my previous digressing post, "Understand the Job," was meant to encourage you to understand audio design and implementation, even if you can't do it yourself, for the purpose of making yourself desirable to a potential client or employer.

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Well thankyou very much Dan. I really appreciate you taking the time to write all of that out. I'm definitely going to try to learn as much as I can. I hope to someday be one of the best so i'll learn all that I have to learn and more. You seem to have alto of experience have you worked on any notable games?

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That list makes me want to quit.

It doesn't seem too bad to me. Some of the tasks seem closely related and if your a composer you need to know some anyways. A few seem like they require grasping new technology which seems to always be a constant when your working with video game music. The only ones that seem difficult are the management ones although I'm going to college for management thank goodness.

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It doesn't seem too bad to me. Some of the tasks seem closely related and if your a composer you need to know some anyways. A few seem like they require grasping new technology which seems to always be a constant when your working with video game music. The only ones that seem difficult are the management ones although I'm going to college for management thank goodness.

I mostly wonder about the workload. Just doing the music alone is a full-time, 30-40 hour a week job, what does the rest of that add on to it?

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I mostly wonder about the workload. Just doing the music alone is a full-time, 30-40 hour a week job, what does the rest of that add on to it?

I don't think he meant all at once though. If your sequencing existing music or arranging existing music then i'm sure that means you'll be writing less songs for whatever project your on at the time (hopefully). But you are right it is alot. Just writing the song (before you mix it and add effects or whatever else) is a tough enough job. But i'd imagine that all of that took place over the course of time. I wouldn't mind it as long as the money is right and I learn how to do those things properly.

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