Tag: music

Sounding Emotional: How Timbre Choices Affect Emotion in Music

We all experience music almost every day that gives rise to various emotions, though commercials, films, games or our personal connection with our favorite album. It is commonly known informally that major keys make happier melodies than minor keys, and different scales and performative elements can make music sound more sad or happy, depending on the characteristics of those elements.

But what is it about the sound of a low legato cello that makes it more sad than a high jumpy melody on a marimba? In this post, we take a look at how sounds can evoke emotions, starting with its building blocks.

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A Glimpse into Video Game and VR Music from a Music Theorist’s Perspective

As a music theorist, and a new member of the Melodrive team, I’m fascinated about how music in video games and VR has evolved and continues to evolve today. This is important to me because it concerns how music has changed in terms of its organisation and sophistication over the years. It is clear, even to someone who is a casual gamer like myself, that the aesthetic significance and evolution of video game music are critical concerns for the history of music, and demand serious attention. Particularly so since from an academic perspective at least, the genre is a little more niche than it deserves to be.

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Adaptive Music Increases Immersion and Time Spent in VR by More Than 30% [Experiment]

VR is a highly immersive medium. No doubt about that. VR players don’t just see the world through a screen as is the case in normal video games, they are literally inside that world and can interact with its objects and environments in an intuitive way. Most of my friends who tried VR the first time where shocked by the experience. They told me that they completely lost track of time and that they felt as if they moved to another reality. Simply put, they were deeply immersed.

There are several factors that contribute to immersion in an experience. One that is very important, and at the same time is often overlooked, is music.

Composers have always thought that music has the ability to increase the level of immersion of players experiencing digital content, be it videos, video games or VR. For interactive content, composers like Guy Whitmore, who are at the forefront of music making in non-linear settings, know that adaptive music can make a big difference for immersion (check this post for an explanation of what we mean when we say adaptive music). The reasoning is quite simple. With adaptive music, no matter how the user behaves, the music is always in sync with the emotions portrayed in the visuals and in the storyline. Here’s an example. My jolly village gets attacked by dark knights. The music, being adaptive, dynamically shifts from happy to dramatic. The double bass kicks in and the chords get more aggressive. In other words, the audio elements of the experience reinforce the story told through the visuals. Composers suggest that this reinforced feedback between different elements of an interactive experience increases immersion. This is intuitive and sounds like a plausible hypothesis, but… it’s still a hypothesis. No one had yet tested it out in the real world — until now!

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8 Outstanding Adaptive Music Soundtracks

We’re always thinking of great examples of game soundtracks here at Melodrive HQ. We decided to come up with our own personal list of the best-of-the-best when it comes to adaptive music in games.

If you’re not sure what we mean when we say ‘adaptive music’, you should check out one of our previous posts, where we talked about the idea in some detail. TL;DR, adaptive music is dynamic and ever-changing. It reacts to the player and the game to intensify the immersion and emotion in the game, and (hopefully) improves their experience.

By the way, this list is just in chronological order and by no means ranks the games.

Without further ado, here’s the list!

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Interview with Game Composer Guy Whitmore: “Adaptive music isn’t important for games, it’s mandatory!”

Last month, I had the honour of interviewing game composer Guy Whitmore. We shared ideas on video game music with a specific focus on the use of adaptive techniques in video games. He shared some great insights on the future of music making in video games. Guy has been around in the  video games industry for more than 20 years. He has specialised in adaptive music. You can say he’s an adaptive music evangelist and educator! For a quick introduction on adaptive music, check this post I wrote some time ago. Guy worked as an audio director and a composer for big companies like Electronic Arts and Microsoft but also as a freelancer. He’s the author of notable game scores like Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza, Shivers and Shogo. Next, you can read the content of our great chat.

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How to Choose the Right Music Genre for the Soundtrack of a Video Game

It might seem a like simple process, but picking the right music genre for a game soundtrack is a challenging task. The musical styles are almost infinite: free jazz, fusion, epic rock, late romantic, Gregorian,  gypsy folk; to list just a few options available. Should you use a traditional classical orchestral style for your new RPG game or should you try an unexpected solution like trance music? As we know, music can make or break a game and the genre plays a major part in the process. In this article, I’ll give you some guidelines,  inspired by the great book A Composer’s Guide to Game Music written by Winfred Phillips, on how to pick a music genre for your game that will (hopefully) resonate with your players. Before delving into this, let’s have a short detour on game genres, which, as we’ll see, are deeply intertwined with music genres.

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5 Methods To Get Music for your Video Game: Pros and Cons

In this post I’m going to analyse the pros and cons of some of the strategies available to get music for video games, and help you decide which might be the best for you.

We all know that music is particularly important for video games. A soundtrack sets the overall tone of the game and it shapes the experience of a player without them really noticing it. Music can also provide clues about the situation the player is in and make a game stand out from the crowd. Think of the Skyrim main theme for example… you probably just need the initial three drum hits to recognise the game. That’s great branding!

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Technology in Music Performance, a Review: Jacob Collier

This week, I had the opportunity to see a unique musical act in Mannheim, Germany. Specifically, the one-man show put together by up-and-coming jazz phenom, Jacob Collier. Jacob Collier, for those that don’t know, gained notoriety through his creation of multi-part YouTube videos for which he not only composes original and creative arrangements of classic songs, but also plays every instrument in the mix. His style is characterised by extensive use of vocal layering/a cappella arrangements, versatile and extensive re-harmonisations, polyrhythms and metric modulations, all rooted in jazz/funk style inspired by the hit composers of previous decades (Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Michael Jackson, the Beatles, etc.).

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What Makes a Great Melody? 7 Lessons Learned from UNDERTALE

When we listen to a melody, we’re usually able to understand if it sounds good or bad after just a few notes are played. The underlying cognitive processing employed to arrive at such an assessment – although extremely sophisticated – is carried out on an almost unconscious level. It all feels so natural that we don’t realise how many simultaneous elements are contributing to the overall experience. Indeed, a melody is a complex musical construct that involves many musical domains at once. There is pitch content involved, obviously. But a melody also comprises note durations, rhythmic and metrical elements, accents, structural relationships between the different subsets of the melody, articulations and dynamics.

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What is Adaptive Music?

We may not be aware of it, but most music that we’re used to listen to is linear. Linear music has a beginning, a development and an ending that sound exactly the same every time we listen to it. The soundtrack of a movie, the songs of Bob Dylan and a Mozart’s symphony are all examples of linear music. Linear music works great if it’s used for concert music or as  musical background for fixed media. Every time we watch Star Wars, for instance, the sequence of events occurring on screen are always the same. No matter how much we would like it to be different, (40-year-old spoiler alert) Obi-Wan Kenobi is going to be killed by Darth Vader! The fixed structure of a movie is great for the composer who has to write the soundtrack, because he or she can create musical cues that are specifically tailored to the on-screen images on a moment-by-moment basis. When the cannons of the Millennium Falcon hit the ships of the Empire, for example, the explosions can be underlined by the music and the overall excitement of the moment can be captured and enhanced by the soundtrack.

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