Sunday, July 21, 2013

Smoke and Rain

I have a confession to make. A few years back I was a little hesitant to try out a Bioware RPG called Mass Effect. I had played and loved Dragon Age: Origins by the same developer, and I had heard a lot of good things about their sci-fi franchise. But I also knew that it was a shooter, and Maker knows I suck at anything that requires me to aim. It wasn't until I had listened to a track called Suicide Mission (uh, thanks for spoiling that for me, btw) from ME2's soundtrack that I decided to finally pick it up.

Yes, I chose to play a game because of its soundtrack. It might sound odd, but just have a listen to this, and perhaps you'll understand why (you might have to turn up your volume a bit, as it's a bit quiet):

This particular piece was composed by Jack Wall, and it instantly made him one of my favorite composers. I love the mix of synthetic and orchestral sounds, and how the theme conveys both desperation and hopefulness. It grows more and more epic towards the end, and what's more, it fits its purpose perfectly. Or do you think that this isn't the perfect theme for a suicide mission? There are, of course, other great tracks as well; I especially enjoyed Uncharted Worlds by Sam Hulick from ME, the theme for Samara by Jimmy Hinson and Reflections by Jack Wall (both from ME2) and the Rannoch theme by Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan, from the ME3 soundtrack.

Of course, the games were good, as well! I loved the story, the characters, and how I was able to create and play my own character. (Although, Bioware did move away from that a bit, especially in the third game. The massive amount of auto-dialogue and lack of choice in certain responses was, at times, immersion-breaking for me.) Unfortunately, the ending of Mass Effect 3 left me feeling so deflated and empty that I haven't really played the series since. I did play through the Extended Cut (to record the footage you'll see in the following video) but, apparently, for me the damage had already been done.

So, I admit I was a little butthurt when I wrote the lyrics for this:

While the piece doesn't directly quote any of the themes from the soundtracks of any of the games, I hope that at least the sounds bear some resemblance to their inspiration. I know the mix is pretty bad - I have started from absolute zero when it comes to making music, and I admittedly do have some trouble with creating mixes that have clarity, depth and warmth at the same time. Not to mention that my mic is probably the cheapest money can buy (no point in dishing out a lot of cash for quality equipment until I'm a bit better at what I do.)

The lyrics go as follows:

Our world is burning
Broken lives everywhere I can see
I hear them calling
Time to stand our ground and be free

There's no turning back, no compromising
I take the plunge into the storm

Smoke and rain
Take up arms, they're moving to feed on our
Blood and pain
Look at everything we're fighting for
Smoke and rain
We're fighting together in vain

The world is burning
Our banner lying trampled in mud
The line is breaking
It's getting harder to fight back the flood

No hope, no choice, only broken promises
A sacrifice not worth the cost

Smoke and rain
I raise my burning eyes, there is nothing but
Blood and pain
The broken sky comes crashing down on me
Smoke and rain
We're dying together in vain

(Yeah, just a bit angsty...)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Driver Distress

My original plan was to start this blog with quite a few more tracks on my YouTube channel. You know, just to make me feel a bit more like a real musician. Alas, as it happens there are currently only two, and that's because I'm a bit like Blizzard with their games: if it isn't perfect, I'll ditch it, no matter how much time I've already spent on it. Therefore, as you can imagine I'm a bit slow to produce content.

I did have a couple of pieces (okay, ONE) almost ready to upload, minus vocals... Unfortunately, I'm an idiot and reinstalled Windows because I couldn't get my mic to work properly. (For those who are interested/share the problem, there was a weird crackling noise that made recording impossible.) Talk about shooting a mosquito with a shotgun.

Of course, it didn't help. At all.

So I ended up losing all my programs, some particularly cute videos of my golden retriever growing up (by accident *sob*), and a lot of time, for a problem that could have been solved by installing ASIO4ALL to replace the standard sound card driver. Yay! Fortunately, everything pretty much works now, but I have yet to record the vocals for my newest tracks. I also want to create art for the videos, but we'll see whether that turns out too ambitious or not.

Of course, I will still update the blog while working on new content. And my next post will be about this.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

*insert witty title here*

... because I really couldn't think of one. The pressure got the better of me. Besides, I don't remember ever reading the first post of a blog, so I think it's safe to assume no one will read this one either, right? ;)

In case I am wrong, let me welcome you to my blog! Just to clarify, the name doesn't have anything to do with the Elder Scrolls game, but if it gets you thinking about games, then good! I'm a fledgling composer with a huge, squishy soft spot for game music, and this is where I'll share both my favorites and the progress I make with my own creations. Of course, not all of it will be related to games (or "fan music"), but they are a major inspiration for me in any case. I might do an occasional gaming-related post as well, should I happen to have something useful to say about the subject (doubtful, but there you go).

Alright, just to get past the awkward part of ending the post, I'll link you to what I find to be one of the most epic pieces from Mass Effect's soundtrack. In fact, I love it so much I have it as my ringtone:

... Yeah, I may be kidding just a bit ;) Not about having it as my ringtone, though... Makes me snicker every time someone calls!