Making of Red Dead Redemption: Game Music Score as Interactive Collage

Sure, it’s a Spaghetti-Western-inspired soundtrack to the hit Rockstar game called jokingly by fans Grand Theft Horse. But to me, a richly-composed musical score for a blockbuster video game sums up a lot of where music production is at these days. Composed by Bill Elm and Woody Jackson, Red Dead Redemption gets a score that blends Western authenticity with more experimental ambiances. We get a first glimpse of that process with a behind-the-scenes video released by Rockstar (and reproduced on CDM with permission) this week. Watch past the boilerplate voiceover as they get into the production, and you’ll see some …

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Looking Beyond MIDI, What’s the Best Way to Represent Musical Notes Digitally?

Speaking in Hamburg to a terrific group of assembled locals from a variety of design backgrounds. And yes, this is the other part of my life behind me. I just seem to generally skip the years 1700-1985. Go figure. The history of music and the history of music notation are closely intertwined. Now, digital languages for communicating musical ideas between devices, users, and software, and storing and reproducing those ideas, take on the role notation alone once did. Notation has always been more than just a way of telling musicians what to do. (Any composer will quickly tell you as …

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Upcoming Final Fantasy Album: Treating the Orchestra Like an Analog Synth

Photos by Hedi Slimane; courtesy Final Fantasy. Can you approach a symphony orchestra as though it’s an analog synth? That’s a question composers have asked since the first time they heard electronic sounds. It’s impossible to hear the 20th-century technology alongside the 19th-century technology without the one reframing your view of the other. Now, it will be tackled by the new album from composer/singer/violinist Owen Pallett, with an interesting cast of characters onboard, plus one imaginary ultra-violent farmer.

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DAW Day: Digital Performer 7 Adds Effects, Easier Access, PT8 Support

DP’s clever channel strip integrates quite a lot of functionality in every view. I’d be remiss if I didn’t note another significant DAW release: DP7 is shipping this week. The Mac-only Digital Performer still has a loyal following, especially among the scoring crowd, some of whom have stuck with DP since the Performer days – one of the Mac’s first sequencers. I have to say, this particular update seems to focus more on bundled effects than core functionality – and, in fairness, because it’s tough to change core features without upsetting the stuff that keeps your users loyal, this isn’t …

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Tron, Redux Redux: Trailer with Daft Punk Music, New Reaktor-Reason-Live Score

In a Hollywood overrun with remakes, a new Tron has quite a daunting challenge. The original film may be a cult hit for its 80s arcade cool, but it also was a seminal moment in the evolution of computer animation, at the nexus of obsessive-compulsive optical effects that came before and digital effects that came after. (Google Perlin Noise, if you must.) But where the bits of the effects look uneven or dated alongside the brilliant, it’s nearly impossible to top the genius of Wendy Carlos’ score. Her deft blend of choirs, orchestras, organs, and rich electronics wasn’t just forward …

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Sibelius 6: Notation Software Gets Magnetic Layout, ReWire, More – Details

Sibelius today gets the biggest upgrade I’ve seen from the tool in a long time, with major improvements to the way the notation package lays out musical objects on the score, and ReWire support so you can integrate it with your host of choice. This is an especially meaningful upgrade to me, as I’ve spent a lot of time with Sibelius since its first Mac release about a decade ago, both composing and teaching with it. In case you missed it Friday, I just spoke about some tips that can help with working in both education and composing: Five Sibelius …

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GDC: Music, Games, Interactivity Pt. II, Plus Embarrassing Dance Footage

In the thrilling conclusion of our chat with Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin, Matt Ganucheau and I explore deep thoughts about the roles of interactivity and adaptivity in music and game design — then attempt to dance in giants Katamari Damacy hats. (Note the use of the word attempt — those things were more than a bit tricky to move in. Hilarity ensues.) Prior to leading a dance dance Revolución, we talk a bit about the ways in which game design relate to gesture in musical interface and how musical scores could become non-linear. The gesture issue really goes well beyond …

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GDC: Boiling Waterphones and Other Sonic Inspirations from Composer Troels Folmann

  Hot-boiled waterphone, coming up. Troels explains: “We boiled it at 4 different temperature levels and its a part of the massively multi-sampled waterphone (it’s over 2.900 samples).” Award-winning composer Troels Folmann has made a name as a video game composer on the likes of the Tomb Raider series, as well as espousing new ideas about adaptive music for games like his “micro-scoring” methodology. But speaking to a roomful of composers and sound designers at the recent Game Developer Conference, he turned to the topic of reinvention. Even having perfected signature sounds that keep him in demand on jobs like …

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