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Archive for January, 2014

Goldsmith: Laying Eggs. :)

January 28, 2014 2 comments

Hi there, how have you been?

Last week I talked about the wide, wild world of Jerry Goldsmith and how I’m digging his work deeper to scavenge myself some invaluable lessons. :) Well, as previously announced this week’s movie was the very first Alien in the series–the one directed by Ridley Scott.

Alien belongs to a fairly big teenager list of favorite sci-fi movies, but watching to it now–and paying its soundtrack the proper attention–as an adult made me realize it’s much more an horror movie than a plain, regular sci-fi shot. Of course, any sci-fi plot must have a tendency towards a thrilling atmosphere due to the inherent “unknown” factor, but several details–the soundtrack being the most important–hint the real intent behind the lens.

Alien (1979)

I could talk about the picture’s slow pace, about the long-lasting silences, the dark palette, the cinematography… but this being a music blog I think it’s better to stay safe at home. :P And Goldsmith’s formula here could easily be represented in a simple pie chart: 70% horror, 30% sci-fi. :)

The horror side of the pie is achieved by strings tricks well-known since Mr. Bernard Herrmann; the sci-fi one comes through more modern techniques involving electronic devices and resulting in effects like delay and reverberation in general. But the final word is the OST is really a case of “greater than the sum of its parts”. The cues for “monster approaching”–which are delivered through dynamics put to good use–influenced generations to come of horror/sci-fi composers.

I’ll leave you with a sample piece on the matter, and another of my favorite soundtracks in any medium: Super Metroid (SNES), by Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano. My bet is some of those seeds sprouted in Japan… ;)

See ya, take care!

Digging: Jerry Goldsmith

January 21, 2014 2 comments

Hi there, how have you been?

Continuing with my soundtrack studies–one composer after another, chronologically–I just arrived at this huge station: Jerry Goldsmith. The man had worked in so many movies, with so many styles that I don’t think I’ll be able to wrap it all up concisely inside my mind… but the trip–which barely started–is been already worth the “trouble”. :)

Jerry Goldsmith

I started a week ago by re-watching one of my all-time favourite movies ever: Planet of the Apes. Released in 1968 it’s an amazing sample of modern scoring in the 60s–I guess pratically every vanguard movies soundtrack back then came from the Sci-Fi genre. From this one I could grab some interesting ideas for “tribal”, percussive music.

Last week I picked a 70s specimen, one I remember my father talking about: Chinatown. From the awesome Roman Polanski this is a tough, sometimes fun, kinda over the top noir detective movie–great, really great stuff. And music helps it a lot by providing the perfect mood aside a very memorable main theme… which is an absolutely diverse work from the aforementioned “Apes”. :)

How many tricks Mr. Goldsmith had in his hat? And how could I afford to pay for such generous legacy? Both questions are hard to answer. :P For the time being just enjoy Chinatown’s solid soundtrack… as for me I’ll watch Alien for the twentienth time. :P But now with eyes and ears on Jerry. :)

See ya, take care!

Puzzle Soundtracks: A Master Class

January 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Hi there, how have you all been?

Scoring music for puzzle games is one of the trickiest tasks a composer can be up to. Music (and sound effects for that matter) in those cases can fail miserably in so many ways that succeeding can be considered an achievement for itself–and with “succeeding” I mean simply not to be switched off by the player. You can be annoying, you can get in the way of the player’s concentration, you can choose the wrong pace… Failure is just around the corner.

Well,  a parcel just arrived from Japan and aside ferociously eating my time it offered me a case study on puzzle game music. :P Dr. Mario (NES) is solid as a rock both gameplay and music wise.

Dr. Mario

Several jewels of wisdom are there for those who dig deeper: upbeat themes that keep players on their toes while being amusing and highly hummable; some computer noise interludes add a slight sci-fi feel without ever dropping the beat; skipping rhythm styles are “deviated” towards a common overall identity; completely diverse main themes to choose from before start playing… And so much more.

Give it a listen–or even better, play the game if you get the chance to–and you’ll feel it for yourself. :)

(Also, check this list out on more repetitive music)

See ya, take care!

Music to Subjugate the Adult in You. :)

January 7, 2014 Leave a comment

Hi there, how have you all been?

Last week while reading this article in Paste‘s website I got in touch with a cute, interesting indie videogame: Castles in the Sky, by The Tall Trees. The premise–gameplay wise–is simple: exploring the environment by jumping around. But there’s something more to it; something deeper.

Castles in the Sky

Castles in the Sky somehow manages to evoke childhood memories… or maybe more; I would say “mindsets”. Of course, not everyone’s childhood memories are equal. But those guys nailed it by approaching the player in a more subconscious level, reaching an abstract yet palpable feeling anyone can relate to.

And music here (by Jack de Quidt) ultimately makes it greater than the sum of its parts. By supporting the watercolor palette cohesively with slightly melancholic piano-based themes it helps drowning you in your own nostalgia, whatever it may be about.

Check the trailer out and if you’re feeling curious/generous you may lend those guys a hand. It would be worthy for its soundtrack alone–which comes standalone in the pack–but $1.50 is a steal anyway. :)

Cheers, have an awesome musical week!

New Year’s Notice. :)

January 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Hi there, how have you all been?

Just a quick heads-up on 2014 posts: this year they will air on Tuesdays (also known as tomorrow lol) as I intend to spend more time on making ’em and hopefully offering a juicier content for you. :)

Next!

In the mean time pay a visit to my videogames blog (which still goes up on Mondays) if you’re into the matter. ;)

Stay tuned, see ya soon!

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