Slightly Smarter Music

The music I've been writing has been pretty mellow recently, and with good reason. I'm composing for my advanced game design course, and the musical style my team needs is a relaxed one. More on the project details to follow, but for now check out what we're trying to do with the music:

In the game, your character has an emotional state dictated by interactions with the nonplayer characters around you. In order to reflect feelings as naturally as possible, we're trying to avoid an emo bar, emo counter, or displaying any numerical value whatsoever for how you're feeling.
Instead, we are (among other things) changing the music to suit the mood. I'm not going for a drastic mood change from one part of the music to the other... but rather a small change that helps you better identify what's happening in the game.

That said, here are three variations on the same theme, each with varying levels of happiness/sadness. Let me know what you think: Are the changes between variations very obvious? almost unnoticeable? Does the happy one actually sound more happy than the other two?

(stageIV_Average link)
(stageIV_Sad link)
(stageIV_Happy link)


Luke Hoersten said...

Those tracks are awesome! I thought the delta between sad and happy was perfect and the average seemed much more on the happy side which probably makes sense unless the character is generally depressed =) If the game is anything like the music, I can't wait to see it. Do you have screenshots?

Phil Harnish said...

Whenever I listen to instrumental music I like to think about what sort of movie scene, video game, or other narrative it would suit. The tracks definitely fit the mood well--though I can't tell if the track title determined how I interpreted it ;) Can't wait for the full soundtrack.

esbie said...

I realize now that I could have explained exactly how these variations were created. The piece is in the key of C Major so that it was easy for me to visualize the chord changes. Each variation has a 4-chord progression repeated over and over.

The Happy theme has 3 major chords and 1 minor chord (CM-Em7-FM7-GM7 or I-iii7-IV7-V7 for those who know music theory).

The Average theme has 2 major chords and 2 minor chords... which is only a slight difference (CM-Em7-Am-GM7 or I-iii7-iv-V7).

The Sad theme has 3 major chords and 1 minor chord: why then does it sound so much sadder? It turns out that the variation acts more like a bridge in the song, because it modulates to E minor as the root chord even though it begins on CM (so the progression is CM-BM-Em-GM or VII-V-i-III)

Rosa Decembris said...

I could tell a definited difference between the sad track and the others, but almost no difference between the average and happy ones. But I agree with luke - unless the char is moody, no need for average to be much different from happy.