AveryStemmler

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  1. AveryStemmler added a post in a topic Hammerfell Soundtrack - "Official" thread   

    Hey there, Draeon!  Nice to meet you.
    Sorry to keep you waiting - I've been checking in periodically to see what has cropped up.  It's been a couple weeks (and I vanished off to Europe for a bit before that), but I haven't forgotten about the project!  My desktop wallpaper is still a rotating assortment of Hammerfell concept art, in fact.   Things were looking a little stagnant the last time I logged on, so I'm very glad to see otherwise!
    I'm also glad you brought this up, because I'd like to know more about the organizational specifics of the project.  I believe when I was brought in, they were looking for separate composers for the Hammerfell and High Rock regions, and I chose the former.  With the restructuring into the "Iliac Bay," perhaps that has changed?  I'm not opposed to handling all the regions under this umbrella, so long as there's no particular rush at the moment - it will just require further time and planning.
    Either way, any specifics you or anyone else can give on your development plans for the Iliac Bay would be helpful, as I've been spinning my wheels a little bit in the somewhat limited time I've set aside to work on Beyond Skyrim stuff.  A list of environments, types of dungeons (you mentioned great, big, expansive mines for instance), and perhaps a list of important plot-oriented regions or buildings that may need unique music.  I've been doing a bit of Creation Kit research - particularly in regards to music implementation - and it seems there's a fair amount of flexibility there...
     
    Actually, how about this.  Maybe a good first step will be to have all you writers, designers, and creative forces assemble a master music wishlist: a whimsical, pie in the sky, "dream game" bullet point list of all the things you have or plan to have that need music, without any regard for practicality or the feelings of the developers or composer responsible for it.   Then, I'll take this list, figure out who is actually going to be implementing the soundtrack for this mod, and "open a dialogue," as the business folks like to say, about what is feasible and what is not.
    I can make another thread for it in this subforum, if that'd be more sensible.  What do you think?
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  2. AveryStemmler added a topic in Music   

    Hammerfell Soundtrack - "Official" thread
    Hey folks!
    So, at the beginning of this month (wow, that was longer ago than I thought), I was accepted through the little audition process as composer for Hammerfell.  Almost immediately after that, I started working 16 hour days while still trying to keep my scoring gigs afloat and everything got a bit crazy, but I figured I owe you guys something, so I'm going to post both the sample "explore_day" track and the preliminary plan I submitted for the audition.
    "explore_day" demo via SoundCloud
    I hope this gives you folks some idea of what's on my mind, and will open the door to any thoughts, criticisms, or inspiration you might have.  I may also post this somewhere in the Hammerfell development forums, if it seems like that's a better place for direction and feedback.
    I will, however, continue to update this thread with music for review/discussion.
    Thanks!
    -Avery
    ---
    BEYOND SKYRIM: HAMMERFELL
    Preliminary Plan
    Style:
    1.
    While certainly not an Elder Scroll's score, Ralph Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 2 has some interesting and very applicable textures and harmonic devices.  The rampant parallelism in the strings that Vaughan Williams is known for, I think, evokes a "Laurence of Arabia" feel that might be a useful (and less overt) source of inspiration for the sound of Hammerfell.  You needn't listen to the entire thing (though it is wonderful music, of course), but the opening, and some moments between 15 - 20 minutes are deep wells of material.
    https://youtu.be/0rNDdaReUZU
    2.
    There is a great deal to be learned from Austin Wintory's score to Journey.  This ties somewhat into instrumentation, which I'll discuss in greater detail momentarily, but his choice of instruments and the way he used them works wonders in that games desert setting.
    https://youtu.be/M3hFN8UrBPw
    Although the "problem" that score is solving and the flow of that game are very different from TES, I enjoy the way the audiovisual experience of Journey made me feel, and a large part of that came from the colors of a desert and the timbres of Austin's music.
    There is also the matter of implementation.  The explore_day demo track I write will be linear, of course, but if I do end up working with you folks, I'd like some more information on how you prefer to handle battle music and transitions and the like.  
    Instrumentation:
    I agree that Hammerfell should maintain its orchestral quality.  Though I'd like to establish the score as a fully orchestral sound, particularly instrumental (that was a pun) components might be: a standard string section (Violins I & II, Violas, Cellos [and a solo cello, as mentioned above], and DoubleBasses), french horns, and flutes.  I think there is a place for a choir, though a prominent choir is a bold statement that the political intricacies and vast sometimes vacant landscapes of Hammerfell might not be receptive to.  Perhaps they could be used sparingly, to complement and enhance orchestral timbres, as they were used in Oblivion (in stark contrast to Skyrim).
    While I do think some Middle Eastern and African textures (and I have a cornucopia of ethnic libraries) are necessary, I propose that they remain only that - textures.  I'd like to use them to flavor the world and establish a firm sense of setting, but avoid cluttering the player's experience with cliches that don't serve the story.
    Percussion, however, is an area where I think the setting can really shine through.  Just as the sound of Skyim is in part the product of huge drums, I think the sound of Hammerfell could be more intricate, built from an assortment of smaller percussive devices and rhythmic motifs - an homage to African music.  Timpani, Bass Drums, and Taikos have a place in a game like this, of course, but I'd like to at least experiment with smaller percussive tools.  I'll include a more comprehensive list at the end of this document, after I've finished the demo piece and spent some time with the timbres.
    On the subject of synths and synthetic sonorities, I believe there is a place for them (dungeons aside) as supplemental production tools.  A score - even one explicitly designed to be an orchestral score -  that must rely primarily on virtual instruments has to accommodate their shortcomings.  One way to do this is through subtle synthetic enhancements.  In most film, video game, and popular music, the objective is not hyper-realism, but rather a blend of tones and colors that creates what the audience expects to hear.  To this effect, I think a synthetic sound in the background that doesn't jump out to a listener as "oh, that's a synth" is acceptable in this context.  Skyrim, though also having a beautifully performed orchestral score, was very successful in this regard too.
    Though all of these will not be present in the demo piece, the following is a rough list of my proposed instrumentation:
    Woodwinds:
    Piccolo
    2 Flutes
    Alto Flute
    Bass Flute
    Oboe
    English Horn
    Bassoon
    Contrabassoon
    Brass:
    Horns
    Trumpets
    Trombones
    Tuba
    Percussion (not in demo):
    Timpani
    Bass Drum
    Taikos
    Cymbals
    Gongs
    Chinese Tam Tam
    Bowed Crotales
    Hang Drum
    "Finger Cymbals"
    Brake Drums
    Strings:
    Violins I, II; Violas; Cellos; DoubleBass, all with divisi (using EastWest Hollywood Strings and LASS, with LASS being the smaller of a 2-way divisi split)
    Choir:
    Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass (doing primarily "oo" and "mm" vocalizations.  I can use EastWest's "WordBuilder," to make the choir sing phrases, but the effect can be a bit overbearing, and unnecessary for how I think the choir should be used)
    Ethnic:
    Cimbalon
    Electric Cello
    Solo Cello (not really ethnic, but it wouldn't be serving an "orchestral" function, per say)
    Ewes
    Gankokwe
    Duduk (used subtly)
    African Percussion:
    Djembes
    Calabash
    Dununs
    Krins
    Synthetic:
    1 pad (designed in Absynth).  Similar to something that might be heard in Skyrim

    Expression:
    The music of Skyrim, for me, conveys the passionate hostility but breathtaking beauty of the northern landscape, and embodies the spirit of the Nords that environment had shaped.  Particularly with "Frostfall," and a slew of "needs" mods, every moment in the game feels like a struggle to survive, and I die more frequently to the cold than I do to NPCs.  Though Soule likely didn't write the music with these gameplay mechanics in mind, his soundtrack sets the perfect tone for that struggle and, as a player, it makes me want to brave even the harsher regions to keep writing my story and discovering new pieces of the world.
    The question, I think, becomes: what sort of stories do players want to tell and be told in Hammerfell?  Looking at some of the lore and proposed quests and landscapes, I think "emptiness" might be a crucial part of the experience.  This is not to say a lack of content - hopefully, the world will be overflowing with detail - but rather, a desert loneliness, the feeling of looking to the horizon in all directions and not seeing another friendly soul.
    Hammerfell also seems to be a place of harsh politics and callous business, and this lonely feeling might apply to the character as he or she navigates stories of intrigue and subterfuge.  Oblivion was the most whimsical (I think) of the series.  Skyrim was grounded and brutal, a grand story of short lives and civil war and racism and the potential destruction of all civilization.  Hammerfell, maybe, should feel more personal - yet at the same time, impersonal.  Instead of battling seemly insurmountable forces of nature, you're battling the forces of history and politics and the people on both sides who care for nothing, so long as they've made a profit when the dust settles.
    Explore_Day Demo Track:
    The demo track exemplifies a few of the above elements, and shuns others.  It is entirely orchestral, as I wanted to see what I could do with the idea of Hammerfell in the spirit of Jeremy Soule without employing any ethnic devices yet.  The result is the linked track.
    ---
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