If you’re not familiar with Kevin Manthei, you have probably heard his music at some point in a video game, television series, or movie trailer.
I recently revisited some Kevin Manthei’s music, specifically the soundtrack he composed for the animated series Invader Zim. This was not a coincidence, Invader Zim has recently returned in comic book form and with it all my great memories of the show and its excellent music. Kevin Manthei has also worked on DC animated features Batman Gotham Knight, Justice League: New Frontier and has written the music for the highly entertaining Ultimate Spiderman TV series. But he actually began his composing career in the gaming industry composing the music for titles including Panzer General II, Vampire: The Masquerade, Twisted Metal Black, Starcraft: Ghost and Star Trek Online.
In the process of looking back at Invader Zim‘s music I discovered that Kevin Manthei also recently founded a music library company called Barn Fire Music. The company is described as a boutique production music library providing music in any style to film and television production companies, television networks, game developers and anybody else who needs it.
The music Library itself is huge, boasting over 1900 tracks spread across just over 200 unique albums. Kevin Manthei has contributed over 800 tracks himself, but has collected music from various composers to build the library’s content, which you can sample above. What I appreciated was that the library even had an album titled “8-Bit Adventures,” offering 11 tracks of chip tune goodness. I am still exploring a lot of the albums in the library and so far really enjoy “Apocalyptic Trailers vol.2“, “Heroic Legends” and “Galactic Adventures Vol.1“.
They are always on the lookout for talented composers as well, so if you’re looking to have your music heard check them out. And, if you’re looking for music for your next project, you might find what you need in Barn Fire Music’s Library. Take some time to explore and let me know what you think!
There have been some great advancements in sample libraries when it comes to brass instruments. As someone who grew up on game soundtracks in the 90’s, I became accustomed to hearing some really terrible MIDI brass in orchestral arrangements in my favorite games. While the other instrument families were by no means brilliant in their attempts at accuracy in those days, I’ve always felt that brass instruments faired the worst in this regard. Over the past few years, with the technology available to produce better and more complex sample collections, it’s become easier and more common to obtain lifelike brass performances for projects without the use of a live ensemble.
One recent addition to the handful of brass instrument collections out there is Impact Soundworks’ latest orchestral sample library Bravura Scoring Brass. The library is focussed on providing lifelike performance for orchestral/classical music composition. Bravura contains collections of ensemble performances, as well as solo performance samples and a selection of aleatoric effects. Today on OSV, I will be taking a look at the full version of Bravura Scoring Brass and giving my overall impression of the software after spending a few weeks using it. (more…)
Those attending PAX Prime this weekend will have another chance to sit in and listen to five video game composers regale them with their experiences and stories. Held at the Sphinx Theatre, Sheraton at 5:30pm, the 60-minute ‘Maestros of Video Games’ panel marks its return in 2015 with Gareth Coker (Ori & the Blind Forest, Ark), Sarah Schachner (Assassin’s Creed series), Jason Graves (Until Dawn, The Order: 1886), Cris Velasco (Bloodborne, God of War) and Grant Kirkhope (Yooka-Laylee, just about every Rare game).
From 7-9pm at the Westin join the composers for a meet & greet and autograph signing session. Don’t forget to bring your transforming cleavers, plush Banjo dolls, commemorative wrist blades, and dying tree spirits. Pens will probably be provided.
If you’re a hobby musician or someone looking to break into music composition, you might want to take a moment to fill out a survey over at Ask.Audio in order to be entered to win a ton of music recording and production gear from some of the biggest brand names in the industry.
To celebrate our new website design, new name, and the Ask.Audio Academy, we’ve partnered with the biggest & most popular music industry companies to give you the chance to win $33,000 of music gear.
All it takes to be signed into the giveaway is sign up for a free account on Ask.Audio, enter your email address and answer a 22-question survey about the types of setups and DAWs you might use, the brand of interface and midi controller you use, and so on. Submit your answers by August 31st in order to be entered to win one of 8 super bundles, such as the “Recording Musician Bundle” or the “DJ & Performer Bundle” that include a ton of music production hardware and software. Seven runner-ups will be given a 1-year subscription to the Ask. Audio Academy. You can gain an extra entry by sharing the contest post to your Facebook also.
So if you’ve got a few minutes to answer some questions (and also being subscribed to macProVideo.com and Ask.Audio newsletters; be sure to read those ToC), then this might be worth your time.
Game Music Connect, the international video game music conference, has announced some new sessions for their third annual gathering to be held in London on September 15th. Chuck Doud, Sony America’s Director of Music, will be the opening keynote speaker for the session “Vision Talk: Emotional Resonance in Video Game Music”.
Having worked on major Sony properties from The Last of Us and Gold of War to Journey, he “brings a unique game music world view [...] as he discusses Sony’s current and future visions for video game scoring and celebrates the vital role music plays in today’s and tomorrow’s interactive entertainment experiences, together with the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.” It will, no doubt, be a great session to step back and take a look at where modern game music is at. With so many games coming to so many platforms it’s harder than ever to get that kind of perspective nowadays.
One of those upcoming platforms for new games is virtual reality and Sony expects music to be supremely important and supremely challenging to incorporate with it. Since beginning development of Project Morpheus, the VR headset for PlayStation 4, Sony’s in-house music team created a series of trials to study the “aesthetics and functionality of scores for VR”. Their goal was to create “implementation systems which harness the inherent power of music without disturbing user immersion”. In the session “Virtual Reality & The Meaning of Music” Alastair Lindsay and Joe Thwaites, two music producers from Sony Europe, will demonstrate their findings. There’s sure to be some insightful (and potentially disorienting) revelations about sound and VR in this one.
You can check out much more on Game Music Connect 2015, its panels and presenters, and how to buy tickets to attend at the official homepage.
The classic, simple sounds of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) from the era of 8-bit video game music are for many, including myself, very nostalgic and heartwarming. This is where it all began! Video games have come so far from these original beeps and boops; now there are live orchestras performing this music, sometimes in the game itself, and they even tour around the world to perform. Many people love these sounds and music for the memories they hold, but even so, they may not want to listen to them regularly when they’re not playing these games. And if you play an original NES tune for anyone who doesn’t have similar cherished memories of sitting around playing video games while their mothers begged them to go outside, they’ll probably cringe at the cacophony of fake, electronic noise that you’re subjecting them to. Chances are they will be bewildered that anyone would enjoy such a thing or find value in it, even if they’re too polite to say so.
I am one of the folks who believes that there is a lot to be admired about the music from the 8-bit era of video games, and I believe that there is a lot that contemporary composers can learn from this body of work. If you listen closely, you can hear how composers writing for the NES learned to treat these sounds as instruments, not just sounds, and how they managed to create music, instead of just noise.
Software company Impact Soundworks has launched a weeklong sale on their sample libraries, with products on sale for as much as 40% off. This includes the guitar pack Shreddage, world instrument packs like Sitar Nation, and scoring tools Celestia and Vocalisa. There’s also special 15% sales on software bundles. These include a full Shreddage: Rock Band Bundle, a Complete World Bundle, and an Everything Bundle.
We’ve reviewed a few of these sample libraries in the past. In particular we’ve taken a look at Celestia: Heavenly Sound Design, Rhapsody: Orchestral Percussion, and Pearl: Concert Grand. The sale ends on August 3rd, so be sure to check out the offers before they end. I know I’ll be grabbing some of the music tools that have been on my wishlist. You can check out the full list of products for the Summer Sale on the Impact Soundworks website.
The YouTube channel ClassicGameJunkie just recently started a new video series called How Did They Do That!? which aims to dissect a specific mechanic or effect from a game. Their latest episode focuses on the dynamic music of Rare’s Nintendo 64 classic, Banjo-Kazooie. It’s not a technical deep-dive but the video does a good job of explaining how Grant Kirkhope pulled it off in just under four minutes.
It’s totally worth watching just for the final few moments where they layer six of the game’s tracks over one another. It must be that trademarked Kirkhope genius because it sounds just as good as each track does on its own. Check it out up above.
Of the various subjects that we like to cover on Original Sound Version, we occasionally turn our attention to the music tech side of game music. While our focus is primarily on the soundtracks and arrange/remix albums for game music, we also feel it’s important to review and examine some of the tools available to musicians, remixers, and composers. With that in mind, today we will be taking a look at Pearl Concert Grand, a new piano sample library from Impact Soundworks.
Pearl Concert Grand initially caught my attention because, being a composer myself, I’m always on the lookout for more realistic sounding piano libraries to use on my projects. Due to my classical music background, I have some very high standards for the quality of orchestral sample libraries. Piano sample libraries in particular have always had shortcomings in my experience. After years of performing on real pianos, I’ve never been able to find a decent substitute when using digital pianos or samples for performance or for composing. Technology for samples and digital sounds have certainly improved over the years, and Pearl Concert Grand is one of the more recent attempts to capture the true sound of the piano in a sample library. So with my high standards and a healthy dose of skepticism in mind, let’s take a look at this new piano sample library from Impact Soundworks. (more…)
I first started writing music on a computer in 1987, and nearly 30 years later I realized how important simple, fundamental things really are. My youngest son is five, and was taken by a 25 key synthesizer I recently acquired (the Korg Triton Taktile 25). He wanted one too, and I told him “you can have one, but you need to learn at least a little music first. This is no toy.” And with those words I realized the same words were just as true for me.
So with that in mind, with this bit of writing I’m going to talk about MODs, and the Demo Scene.
As part of the backer updates on the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter project, the game’s development process has been documented in a video series by 2 Player Productions. The multi-part documentary includes interviews with the staff, at various points of Broken Age‘s development cycle, and behind-the-scenes footage of the creation process. A select number of episodes feature content about the game audio side of Broken Age‘s production. The first fourteen episodes of the documentary are now available to non-backers on the Double Fine YouTube channel.
(The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performing “Battle at Shellmound”)
Part of Episode 11, “Ship It,” takes viewers to Peter McConnell’s studio as he writes music for one of Broken Age’s cutscenes and explains his process for composing and finding inspiration for his music. There’s even more game audio covered in Episode 13, “Crash Landing a Plane.” This episode features Camden Stoddard and the rest of the Double Fine audio team working on foley and sound design, while McConnell works with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to record some of the larger orchestral pieces for the soundtrack.
If you haven’t had the chance to watch the Double Fine Adventure documentary, it’s a fascinating look at the development of the first part of Broken Age. The episodes mentioned above are highly recommended viewing, especially if you’re a fan of the game’s music and audio. Be sure to check those episodes out, and the complete documentary itself.
It’s just a few more days until the Game Developers Conference kicks off in San Francisco. Like the professionals they are, the website’s nifty shortcuts can direct you to the Audio Track Sessions listed for the event. The Audio Track is comprised of the panels dealing with game music and game audio production.
The Audio Track brings the industry’s top professionals to share their knowledge and experience from the real-world, addressing these unique problems: aesthetic, technical, business, logistical and then some.
The highlighted sessions for 2015 feature panels such as “Soundtracking Hell – The Music of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls” and “Women in Game Audio” (Something that should interest any fans of our “Matron Maestras” articles), amongst others. An entire session schedule can be found of GDC’s website with dates, times and other pertinent details. It’s a pretty expansive list, showcasing just how technical the world of video game music has become.
I’m quite jealous of our own Michael Hoffman, who will be attending the event for OSV. For anyone else making it to the conference who’s a fan of the audio side of gaming, this is something you’ll want to browse through.
GDC 2015 – Audio Track