Monday, November 25, 2013

Immediate Music - "SoulMates" [Friday Fix]

Wow- memories.  

A friend just sent me a link, reminding me of a piece I wrote a while back for Immediate Music.  Unlike most of the huge bombastic stuff they (and I) might be known for, I actually had created a series of acoustic guitar based cues for a kinder and gentler audience.

I also enjoyed the challenge of completely playing everything myself - with no electronics.

I think I'll do some more of these - after the next big project!



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Help Eimear and I support Orchestral Music! Vote for us today!

Hi Fellow Music Fans.

This blog posting has a very specific message:  We need your vote now!

To continue bringing great orchestral music to 
the concert hall, we are competing for a $250K "Small Business Grant" from Chase Bank.  We have a little over a week to secure 250 votes for our company, Twelve O'clock Arts, in order to progress to the next round of the competition.

If you already know and love Eimear's work for Blizzard, Zelda, her classical, film and video game concerts, go directly to this link and vote now!

The rest of this newsletter will be dedicated to describing just a taste of what we have planned for the upcoming year. 

Our Goal:  Exposing New Audiences to the Symphony Through Multimedia, Video Game and Film Music.

You may know Eimear Noone from her video game music concerts, but these are only the latest adventures in a long musical journey.  Eimear Noone (and her partners at Twelve o'clock Arts) have spent a lifetime dedicated to performing and promoting orchestral music of all kinds!

A conductor since the age of 15, by age of 21, Eimear had co-founded her own ensemble, "The Dublin City Concert Orchestra."  With nothing except a sheer force of will, she sold out a series of concerts at Dublin's National Concert Hall that were dedicated to performing film scores as well as classic repertoire that was used in this films.  Although much more common now, an orchestral concert dedicated to "film music" was unheard of within the classical establishment at the time.

Flash forward to the past few years where now hundreds of thousands of fans have seen Eimear onstage conducting video game music at venue such as The Sydney Opera House, Madison Square Garden, and The Greek Theater (To name but a few).  Likewise, she's lead countless venerable ensembles such as the Sydney, Dallas, Baltimore, Colorado, Pacific and Houston Symphonies; The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Royal Philharmonic.

Those who have attended these concerts know, the music from these video games are bold, brash and every bit as dynamic as the traditional repertoire. They are the classical music of our day.

Most importantly however, at a time when orchestras are struggling to find a sustainable audience, these concerts of video game music regularly sell out.

And what do the symphony managers ask Eimear at these video game music concerts, when they see full houses treating their orchestras like rock stars?  They ask, "How do we get this audience back to the concert hall to hear the classics?"

This is where our new adventure begins.

Eimear rehearsing "This is Ireland," her St. Patrick's Day Multimedia Celebration, featuring Pierce Brosnan

Our New Project!: 

Bringing Video Game Music, Stunning Visuals, and Classic Repertoire Together in One Multimedia Celebration.

At Twelve O'clock Arts we love all types of orchestral music, regardless of the origin.  It can be a game score written last week or a symphony from the 1800's - to us they are all pure magic.

Our key motivation is the desire to share any and all of these in a setting that resembles the multi-media extravaganzas that our audiences have come to expect from Eimear:  Beautiful moving images, synchronized to every beat and phrase of the music - as only her expert conducting can allow.  If it's the score from a movie, every moment is synchronized to the composer's intent for the film.  Likewise a game score.

This is how we are used to seeing video game concerts - but we want to take this to a new level!
What if we could take all of this talent one step further?  What if we could bring all the wonderful multimedia technology available from Broadway, rock concerts, and the movies to the concert stage? Imagine a 3D enveloping experiences, dancing dragon holograms and more, all interacting with Eimear and the orchestra.  That's what we have planned!

To execute this vision we have teamed up with Broadway producer David L. Garfinkle, who's productions of "Ghost" and "Spiderman" have already rewritten the rules for what can be presented on a stage.

We've also teamed up with some yet to be announced top game composers and game companies - you will absolutely know them!

Together, our team is going to rewrite the rules of what you can do with the orchestra!

At the core of all of this, though, is the same excellence of symphonic performance that the audience has come to expect whenever Eimear takes the stage.  There will be your favorite video game scores, performed to picture, but also, video interpretations of some of the great classics that influenced the video game scores.  We are not quite ready to release all the secrets we have planned, except to say the fans will not be disappointed!

But we can't do any of this without your help!  We need your vote for "Twelve O'clock Arts!  Please click on the link below and vote now!  Help us get to the next level!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Songs of the Dragon, Vol. 2 - Live now on iTunes and Many Digital Stores

Buy "Song's of the Dragon, Vol. 2, Featuring Music from Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2."

Read below for information on a free song from the CD!

Back in 2003 I composed the music for the video game, "Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2."  It was my first adventure composing for XBOX and Play-stations.

Still,  I was far from new to games.  At the time this was also my thirteenth journey into "Dungeons and Dragons" and "Middle Earth," having written more than a dozen previous TSR game scores.  Other scores from this period included the TV special "Dragonstrike," and the games "Planescape, A Guide to the Outlands.", "Ravenloft, A Light in the Belfry," "Hail the Heroes" and "Terror Trax" (among others).  

It was a great ride, but one of my great regrets was that despite having the best technology of the day, the scores were not up to what I knew I could do with a live orchestra.  The budgets just were not there for these games.

So when I embarked on "Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2," I had decided things were going to be different.  I was going to record the score with a live ensemble, even if it meant paying for it myself and making nothing.  All I wanted was to hear the music as I had intended.

But as is often said, men plan and G-d laughs.

I won't go into all the details of the debacle that followed, but you can read a bit about it here:  Interplay Entertainment Facing Bankruptcy.  The short story was this:  I kind of got left holding the financial bag for the music, and what should have been the greatest score of my career became a financial nightmare - at no fault to all the wonderful people that I was working with directly at Interplay.

The upside to all this turmoil was that at the end of the day I ended up keeping the rights to my music.

Flash forward to about two and a half years ago when I decided that despite the effort it might take, I needed to go back to the raw musical material and recreate my "Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance 2" score anew.  I still didn't have the budget for a full orchestra (maybe some day I'll win the lottery and this will be my first project) but with the help of some new tools such as "The Vienna Symphonic Instrument," I thought I might be able to create a viable representation of what I wanted to hear.

The barriers were fairly high:  Many of the sounds I used back then came from synthesizers that have long since been recycled for scrap metal  The sequencer files were not compatible with my modern gear.  It was also next to impossible to even determine which versions of the music were the ones from the game and which were discarded demos - so many of the mixes were lost.

Inspired by the many fans who had contacted me wanting the score, over that next two and a half years, whenever I had downtime, I went through the process of recreating every track of the score from scratch - or at least the 9 tracks that could be recreated.  I decided to release the music on what is now my second "Dungeons and Dragons" music release:  "Songs of the Dragon Vol. 2."  The CD also includes two tracks from another project that I thought complimented the D & D scores.

As a thank you to all the fans of the game who have contacted me, this link will download one of the recreated tracks - "The End Title Theme."

Download:  "The Battle Rages" aka "Baldur's Gate:  Dark Alliance 2 End Title"

You can also preview or buy the entire CD from this link:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

From Native Instruments: Kinetic Metal Released

Last month the people at Native Instrument asked me to test drive one of their new libraries, "Kinetic Metal."  I had a blast with it!  The library is based on sounds created from banging and scraping things that are metal, processed by a brilliant audio engine.

I really enjoy discovering the motion and emotion inside a library – especially when automating the controller parameters.  It was with this motivation that I attacked the composition, “Empty in Space."

With this in mind, the piece started with my going through the different sounds in the library, hearing what harmonic and melodic motion existed inside the patches themselves, especially when playing with the modulation wheel.

For example, the patch, “Oil Barrel Drums” immediately jumped out at me.  I noticed that when the mod wheel was moved very slowly, especially in the mid rage of the mod wheel (between 41 and 76 as below), I could clearly hear the patch cycling through the overtone series against the metallic pedal tone.  I then heard, that when the mod wheel hit around 64, a very strong major third jumped out against the pedal tone.

Finally, just as an experiment, I turned on the "motion control" (one of the libraries features) and heard how a higher metallic tone of a 7th would oscillate at a regular interval.  It was from this combination of the overtones series, the prominent major third, and the oscillating 7th, that influenced the creation of the piano melody.

Here’s the piano roll for "Oil Barrel  Drums" (doesn’t look like much, but sounds great!):

The patch “Blacksmith" was my next addition.   Again, moving with the mod wheel while playing the lower notes, I discovered some wonderfully warm sub-sonic tones that played against some random upper partials.  The combination added a nice counter motion to both the melody in the piano  and the motion from "Oil Barrel Drums."  Likewise, I found that a more angular motion in the mod wheel really brought out the random overtones.

For the bridge portion of the cue, I first wrote the chord changes on the piano.  I then went searching for a "Kinetic Metal" patch that could play the tones of the chords, but had an internal motion to make them more interesting.  I discovered “Rusty Wires,” especially at the lowest level of the modulation wheel, presented the tones of the chords with a rhythm reminiscent of a ball bouncing, where the repetitions get faster over the distance of a bar and then start over again at the next note’s attack.  This was exactly what I was looking for.

Only after I had this accompaniment for the bridge did I go back to writing the piano melody – drawing directly from the melody at the beginning and simply adapting it to the new chord changes.

One final note:

When working with such great ambient patches filled with internal motion,  I often find that bringing out the real brilliance of the sounds means using surgical volume automation to bring out the part when it does something really special.  As one can see in the screenshot below, there is rarely a moment when there is not some type of automation being used to execute this.  The screen shot also presents the full pallet for sounds that I used.

It’s my pleasure to share this all with you.  Here's the actual Demo:

And here's where you can learn more about the library:

Kinetic Metal

Get Native Instruments Complete Ultimate:  One of my most valuable tools!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"All Good Things" Trailer Score

A number of years ago, I created the score for the trailer to the film, "All Good Things," one of over 160 I have created in my career.  These have ranged from two "Harry Potter" films to "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," to "JJ Abrams Star Trek."

I just saw this trailer had 4.5 million views!  I had no idea it was so popular...

When I went through the comments about the trailer, I was amazed to see that a great number of people were asking about the music from the trailer - it's hilarious what some people thought was the source!

So, I decided to step out from behind the curtain and post a new edit of just the music from the trailer.  Let me know what you think!


Here's the original trailer:

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Kristen Wiig,
Frank Langella, Zoe Lister Jones, Diane Venora
Genre: Drama | Mystery | Thriller
Director: Andrew Jarecki
Writer: Marcus Hinchey, Marc Smerling
Studio: Magnolia Pictures

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Eímear Noone, Hibernian

Eímear Noone, Conductor and Composer, releases her first "Mini EP."

Although best known as an orchestral conductor, her work on "The Legend of Zelda, Symphony of the Goddesses," and as the conductor for Blizzard Games (Diablo III, Starcraft II et all.) after years of urging her to share more of her music with the world, I was finally able to convince her to release an EP containing just a handful of her compositions.

We have called the CD, "Eímear Noone, Hibernian," as an homage to her Irish roots.

You can purchase the CD here.

It is a pleasure to share two YouTube videos that feature tracks from the CD:

The first is"Flying."  Composed and conducted when Eímear was still in her early Twenties, it remains to this day, one of my favorite compositions.

The second is an excerpt from the silent film, "Ireland, a Nation" (1914), which features Eímear's contemporary original score.

Eimear's version of the score was commissioned for, and first premiered at "The Los Angeles Irish Film Festival," using a live ensemble performing to the movie.

You can preview the rest of the CD and purchase it CD here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

IT's Dark Here

My wife Eímear and I just finished co-composing the score to a very sensitive film entitled, "It's Dark Here."

Directed and written by Adam Coplan, the film is based on the true story of Jason Tennies, a promising college student, a gifted guitarist, and genuinely great friend, who has a schizophrenic break and loses his ability to play music.

We feel absolutely honored that Jason's parents, Linda and David Tennies, the producers, let us lend our music to the film, and that my guitar in the score could be Jason's voice.

For the score we gathered 24 of Los Angeles's greatest string players, explaining to them that the film is about "one of our own" - a fellow musician.  They played their hearts out for him and deserve a shout out, as does Stephanie O'Keefe for collaborating with the union to be able to make the session happen on our limited budget.

Belinda Broughton, Concertmaster
Julie Gigante, Principal Second
Andrew Bulbrook
Kirstin Fife
Elizabeth Hedman
Ben Jacobson
Neil Samples
Barry Socher
Olivia Tsui
Ina Veli
Irina Voloshina
Adrianna Zoppo

Kazi Pitelka, Principal
Dmitri Bovaird
Karen Elaine
Lynn Grants
Lissy Wilson

Andrew Shulman, Principal
Tim Loo
Janet Shulman
Kevan Torfeh
Helen Zheng

Mike Valerio, Principal
Ed Meares

We also had the legendary Mike Lang lend his magical touch on piano to the score and had him improvise on our themes. 

In advance of the film's release, we have been allowed to share the following cue.  In the scene, the madness has taken over the young man, he is wandering the street, and his world turns from light to dark.

The Great Walk, From "It's Dark Here."

Again, an honor to share our music with this touching film.

Craig (and Eimear)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bloodmire Manor - Remix, Redux, Redux

One of the challenges of being a creative type is that by definition one is never satisfied with their work.  As I like to say, nothing is ever finished, only abandoned.

In this spirit, I wanted to share my latest remix from "Baldur's Gate, The Dark Alliance II," a composition entitled:  "Bloodmire Manor."

This was a really hard score for me;  Not due to the music nor people I was working with, but because while I was working on the project, the employer went belly up.  The resulting budget constraints dictated that the score that ended up in the game was my version of a well produced demo, not what I considered a finished product.  This really hurt!

Over the past few years I have slowly been remixing all the original scores (from 2004).  In  some cases, I've recorded live orchestra, in others, as in the composition below, I took the original files and recreated them using modern sample libraries like the Vienna Symphonic Instrument.  This is an interesting example for those who want to hear how music technology has evolved in the last 9 years (it's 2013 when I am writing this).

Here's the remix:

And here's the original version:

What cue would you like me to revisit next?  Leave a comment.