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Update #76: Music in Pillars of Eternity

Audio Music Pillars of Eternity Justin Bell Dyrford Village Dyrford

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#61
Sensuki

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That's just the base track with the orchestral library samples yeah and it's not final?

#62
Justin Bell

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That's just the base track with the orchestral library samples yeah and it's not final?

 

Truthfully, nothings final till the game ships!  It's sort of like going to a job interview...  You always think of the right thing you could've said during the car ride home :)

 

I can say that I've moved on to writing other music for the time being.  But if past experience is any indication, the more I live with this music, the more I'll want to tweak it.


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#63
Archmage Silver

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Thanks for the update, looking forward to hearing more tracks. Maybe an excerpt of an epic battle theme?

 

Keep up the good work! :)



#64
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That's just the base track with the orchestral library samples yeah and it's not final?

 
Truthfully, nothings final till the game ships!  It's sort of like going to a job interview...  You always think of the right thing you could've said during the car ride home :)
 
I can say that I've moved on to writing other music for the time being.  But if past experience is any indication, the more I live with this music, the more I'll want to tweak it.


In the update you talked about timbre and color. The majority of the track is dominated by scarse cold sounding upper midrange strings, which IMO is probably the most lifeless sounding area of library samples. They were all used in the IE games soundtracks, but for the quieter and more atmospheric parts of the IE games, the composers used something more colorful (usually warmer) in the foreground of pieces to make them more memorable. Usually a non-string instrument, sometimes a tuned down violin (or a cello), a contrabass, percussion.

The track sounds fine when something else happens - such as the LOTR sounding orchestral bits and I think I heard a couple of clarinet bits. The lone instrument bit needs to be stronger in some way.

The two primary things I look for in music is atmosphere and emotion. I don't think this track quite gets there on atmosphere. The piece has emotion, but some of the instrumentation doesn't.

But then again this might just be the other influences that I don't perceive coming into play. Both pieces (this and from the gameplay trailer) to me, don't sound very IE-like. But that's okay if you're shooting for something different instead.

Edited by Sensuki, 15 April 2014 - 10:13 PM.

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#65
Micamo

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The track feels... I dunno, a bit too ambient. Maybe it'll grow on me but first impressions is this feels like it belongs in Minecraft, not in an atmospheric high fantasy story.

#66
Frenetic Pony

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It's a nice enough background bit if music. It seems to strike somewhere around the right balance of sounding pleasant and evocative without ever getting in the way or being too annoying to listen too a hundred times. It also sounds a little scattered, there's a lot of slow, single instrument parts where we get some new instrument part we've ever heard before, and it's the only thing going. It feels like it's suddenly a different track, meant for a different area.

 

I also wonder what you're going to do for the theme. A strong theme song is something I'm always a fan of, something stronger and more complex than what you'd hear in the background, something that opens with the title screen to get people excited. That's always something I enjoyed about starting up Morrowind, which I've done several hundred times at least and the theme always get me in the mood to go adventuring, frankly I think Jeremy Soule peaked with that sound track. And of course for inspiration for a theme there's John Williams, creator of undoubtedly the most recognized theme songs in history. 


Edited by Frenetic Pony, 15 April 2014 - 10:28 PM.


#67
Sensuki

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The lack of foreground instrumentation gives the piece a bit of a lack of intimacy IMO as well. The closest thing is probably the clarinet? around 1:30

The overall piece has more of a classical soundstage, which is different from the IE games ambient tracks. The Baldur's Gate and Jeremy Soule IWD ones tend to follow a formula of background orchestration, some foreground instuments and a foreground melody. Inon Zur has a bit of a different style overall, a bit more choral and orchestral but he definitely uses the style on some of the tracks, particularly Skeleton of a Town.

Edited by Sensuki, 15 April 2014 - 10:28 PM.

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#68
Jajo

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Thank you for writing such an insightful update; one of the most insightful ones to date.

Once again it has proven to have been worth it to back this project, just for the updates alone.


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#69
Ailantan

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I like this tune, it have feeling of serenity in it, like i would sit on grass just on outskirts of village near woods. Dyrford seems to be peacefull, but with something disturbing that peace nearby.


Edited by Ailantan, 15 April 2014 - 10:49 PM.


#70
IndiraLightfoot

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Justin: I wholeheartedly agree with Ffordesoon's praise. It lends a brilliant mood to the Dyrwood village scenes! :)

 

My only concern with it is what I think Sensuki is after in his posts:

 

That's just the base track with the orchestral library samples yeah and it's not final?

 

Truthfully, nothings final till the game ships!  

 

 

 

 


 

In the update you talked about timbre and color. The majority of the track is dominated by scarse cold sounding upper midrange strings, which IMO is probably the most lifeless sounding area of library samples. They were all used in the IE games soundtracks, but for the quieter and more atmospheric parts of the IE games, the composers used something more colorful (usually warmer) in the foreground of pieces to make them more memorable. Usually a non-string instrument, sometimes a tuned down violin (or a cello), a contrabass, percussion.

The track sounds fine when something else happens - such as the LOTR sounding orchestral bits and I think I heard a couple of clarinet bits. The lone instrument bit needs to be stronger in some way.

 

I also find that those upper midrange strings dominate the track. Or, put more bluntly: they are not a very good synthesizer version of strings. They sound too digital, and as if some thin membrane is blocking any warm or organic feel there ever was - almost like those Yamaha synthesizers of the mid-80s! I would really see you try another set of warmer and more authentic strings. But you could experiment with some flutes or oboes as well. 


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#71
Jajo

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That's just the base track with the orchestral library samples yeah and it's not final?

 
Truthfully, nothings final till the game ships!  It's sort of like going to a job interview...  You always think of the right thing you could've said during the car ride home :)
 
I can say that I've moved on to writing other music for the time being.  But if past experience is any indication, the more I live with this music, the more I'll want to tweak it.

 


In the update you talked about timbre and color. The majority of the track is dominated by scarse cold sounding upper midrange strings, which IMO is probably the most lifeless sounding area of library samples. They were all used in the IE games soundtracks, but for the quieter and more atmospheric parts of the IE games, the composers used something more colorful (usually warmer) in the foreground of pieces to make them more memorable. Usually a non-string instrument, sometimes a tuned down violin (or a cello), a contrabass, percussion.

The track sounds fine when something else happens - such as the LOTR sounding orchestral bits and I think I heard a couple of clarinet bits. The lone instrument bit needs to be stronger in some way.

The two primary things I look for in music is atmosphere and emotion. I don't think this track quite gets there on atmosphere. The piece has emotion, but some of the instrumentation doesn't.

But then again this might just be the other influences that I don't perceive coming into play. Both pieces (this and from the gameplay trailer) to me, don't sound very IE-like. But that's okay if you're shooting for something different instead.

 

 

I disagree about the lone instrument and strings.

This piece has background music written all over it and works quite well as such, in my opinion. The pauses, that very obviously cut the phrases from one another feel uncomfortable when listening to the music alone, but in a context of other more prominent sound effects coming from the town it should work well.

What I've tried is this: I listened to the piece on its own and then listened to it several times while typing and focusing on another task - like I would have been while playing a game. The music performed as any background music I'd call good (not excellent) did - was unobtrusive (pauses weren't jarring anymore), conveyed the mood and had some likeable memorable phrases, that stuck with me.

Looking at how this composition is made, transferring more prominent phrases to a lone instrument would emphasize the pauses and would have felt more intrusive and perhaps even out of place (in my opinion), while strings can manage to peek out of background and blend back in more seamlessly. Perhaps horn could also achieve that?

 

Talking about atmosphere and emotion is unfortunately as subjective as it can get. I can't really explain this in any way, when I say, that to me the piece conveyed the atmosphere and emotion right from the very first seconds and managed to stay on the same track in both cases.

I find the comparison with firelink from Dark Souls here quite appropriate.

 

I do agree, that it does not quite sound like the most memorable IE pieces - the most memorable pieces there all did have a lone prominent lone instrument carrying the main theme (Kuldahar and East Haven are the ones that I still listen to). But even there, not all of the pieces did and I'd still call them good or excellent.

 

I haven't even thought about, that people wanted the music to imitate the IE games music. My expectations and hopes were (only), that:

- Music fits the environment and writing.

- Music is actually good and does not make me turn it off.

- Music has one or two memorable pieces that will get stuck in my head and will make me replay the game for the music alone in a few years, like IWD and D2 keep on doing.

 

 

Mr. Bell, I can't wait to hear all of it, to see how You've managed to blend in a common theme.


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#72
Monte Carlo

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Best theme music EVAR...

 

Justin please check it out.

 

 

http://youtu.be/8XKGhG0W0LQ

 

Plus stirring Soviet army vocals ftw

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=YEt41bYQBgE


Edited by Monte Carlo, 16 April 2014 - 12:37 AM.

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#73
Sensuki

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I disagree about the lone instrument and strings.
This piece has background music written all over it and works quite well as such, in my opinion. The pauses, that very obviously cut the phrases from one another feel uncomfortable when listening to the music alone, but in a context of other more prominent sound effects coming from the town it should work well.

What I've tried is this: I listened to the piece on its own and then listened to it several times while typing and focusing on another task - like I would have been while playing a game. The music performed as any background music I'd call good (not excellent) did - was unobtrusive (pauses weren't jarring anymore), conveyed the mood and had some likeable memorable phrases, that stuck with me.


In my post I compare the piece with the music of the IE games (BGs/IWDs). It is indeed a more background piece, this is not however like the music in the IE games.

In modern film (games, movies, tv series) a lot of composers (with direction) go for a more subtle approach where the music is much more subtle than the previous era. If you think back to earlier periods (eg. 80s-90s) and most cheesy Hollywood films, music is over the top. I think the IE games (particularly the BG games, composed by Michael Hoenig) are a bit more upfront and noticeable which is sort of representational of their era, without being too over the top. The IWD1 follows a similar formula but in a different style that is more ambient. IWD2 is a little bit more orchestral and choral than IWD because that's Inon Zur's style, but he still managed to capture the same tones and uses some of the same tricks.

Over time Jeremy Soule's musical style has become more and more like background music, and progressively more forgettable.

 

But that said, from what I understand once the digital/library version of the track is complete, then (some of) it will be recorded. So the lifelessness of the instruments in the piece isn't as much of a worry, but I did feel that it was missing *something*.

While Justin's piece may very well fit the mood of that part of the game/that village at that time in the game, I do not believe the piece has been done in the IE game style at all. This is fine, except for the fact that they've been saying that overall they are going to do something kinda similar.
 

Talking about atmosphere and emotion is unfortunately as subjective as it can get. I can't really explain this in any way, when I say, that to me the piece conveyed the atmosphere and emotion right from the very first seconds and managed to stay on the same track in both cases.
I find the comparison with firelink from Dark Souls here quite appropriate.


I honestly don't know how you can listen to the opening string part and feel any emotion whatsoever, because it is a bunch of digitalized strings playing a note. Atmosphere is a little bit subjective, but I believe that several things contribute heavily to the atmosphere of a piece - tone and color (of the actual recording itself) and sound production play a heavy part.

The thing that is the most jarring for me most of all is that the piece to me, gives me absolutely no 'vision' of Dyrford itself. Perhaps this is not the 'main' Dyrford piece.

When I look at the Dyrford art (whether it be this concept art or the screenies):

Village_concept_art.jpg?version=4612bbac
 

 

I don't hear this track. This is one thing that the IE games (particularly Icewind Dale) did very well. When you listen to the Kuldahar theme, the piece is evocative of Kuldahar - smoke rising from the buildings, a sense of warmth in a vast coolness, the stillness of the town, a sense of magic about the tree. The color of the music suited the art of the town as well. 

 

This art here is evocative of something much more organic than the piece we have heard, it could be sad sure (from memory Lord Harond's daughter went missing or something) but that essential mix of medieval/renaissance instruments or perhaps woodwind or reeds is probably necessary to create the right feeling.


Edited by Sensuki, 16 April 2014 - 01:17 AM.

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#74
Gromnir

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best game music we ever heard is from the iwd games. jeremey soule were fantastic for iwd, and there weren't no drop-off for iwd2... at least as far as music is concerned. inon zur matched soule, which at the time we would not have thought possible. 

 

 

HA! Good Fun!


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#75
Ineth

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Damn, now I want to replay IWD2.



#76
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I thought this piece was fantastic for its purpose. I hope a lot of the music in the game will be more like this, subtle and unobtrusive. I can imagine how beautiful this will sound if coupled with a good soundscape for the town. I don't want to say anything is perfect but this really hit the spot for me in terms of its direction.

 

I'm replaying Baldur's Gate at the moment and while the music in itself is very nice, the sheer amount of times you hear certain themes is just... not good. It becomes annoying. And a lot of places in the game would've worked much better with something that draws less attention. Other areas work great, like when you enter Baldur's Gate for the first time during daytime and that epic music is playing.

 

Can't wait to hear more! It'd be great to see a video with both sound effects and music sometime in the future.


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#77
JFSOCC

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First of all... Heartbleed sounds like a damage-over-time malware.
 

Hello awesome backers.


T_T... Why did you greet only the awesome backers? *sniffle*...

8), okay, okay, jesting: complete.


I really appreciate the breakdown of your process, Justin! I mean, I'm very, very far from an expert (very) or anything, but I at least understood your process in terms of approach and whatnot. It's pretty cool to read about, ^_^.

Unfortunately, I can't listen to the track at the moment, but I will definitely do so ASAP, and will be sure to come back and complain provide feedback on it, :).
 
You thought the jesting was actually complete? MUAHAHAHA!
 
Lastly, your mention of "listener fatigue" makes me think of FTL. I can't speak for everyone, but to me the music in that game seems to have staved off listener fatigue a great deal (I really had to stop and think about it when someone brought up that the music "never" really gets annoying, which just goes to show how unannoying I find it). That's also really, really important for that game, though, because of its Roguelike nature (not only are you subject to some of the same music for durations of a single playthrough, but the game is designed specifically to be played through a lot of times.)

Anywho, I know you're probably really far along with stuff at this point, so it's not going to help with any foundation or anything. But, if you're ever having a problem with listener fatigue with a given track, you might want to listen to some FTL music for inspiration? *shrug*. It could be helpful. Or maybe not. Who knows... I'm just a Punsmith. I'm off to ham things... with my hammer.

I stopped at cleared areas in FTL so I could keep listening to the music. Yes, very little listener fatigue. I think the key to that is how melodious the music is, after a while, you learn it.

I am a big fan of melodious music, and I hope to hear some of that in the future, but as others have aptly said, the piece we've gotten in this preview is meant as background music. As such it's good (but not great, sorry)

I'm resisting the temptation to let you listen to something I like. First off, because most threads you've replied in are overloaded with them, secondly, you'll have to make your own choices. Lastly I probably already did in one of the other threads...

And as I type that, hmmm, temptation oh well, one very short one then, see it as inspiration ;)


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#78
Jajo

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The thing that is the most jarring for me most of all is that the piece to me, gives me absolutely no 'vision' of Dyrford itself. Perhaps this is not the 'main' Dyrford piece.

 

I don't know much about the lore and the story so I have no idea of what the 'vision' of Dyrford is supposed to be, nor would I dare to even presume. I'm not implying, that you are presumptuous - I know that you know a whole lot more about this game than I do, but deriving the whole vision of the settlement from a still image of environment looks really ballsy to me.

Of course this music wouldn't fit the bill, if there was a town fair going on (banal example, I know), but I don't see how a half ruined settlement could not offer a stage that would fit this piece.



#79
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I can't help but feel you were listening to Dvorak when you came up with this, at least that's part of the vibe i'm getting from it.

 

Sounds absolutely fantastic.


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#80
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JFSOCC: What a wonderful track, and you have really picked something that fits the setting we get to see in the images as well (Dyrwood). Almost, some somber Don Quixote and Sancho Panza theme.

 

Heh, and that cave in the video with all the bones in front of it: It looks like a certain bloody bunny scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail.


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