F 01


While talking to Mentor # 1 yesterday I had an opportunity to describe the composition project I would like to work on this year.

  • A suite of compositions
  • Inspired by the moods / virtual environments of a video game
  • The game is called “No Man’s Sky” and is a planet exploration game
  • In the original version of the game, the player is a solitary space traveler
  • Recently the game was updated to include multiple players
  • …which meant that the previous universe was re-written (destroyed)
  • I now have a limited amount of footage to draw from
  • This puts helpful limits on the project.
  • Create 12 themes expressing different kinds of planets and situations
  • ex. dangerous planet, beautiful planet, travel theme, farewell theme
  • Use these themes (motifs) as a basis for compositions
  • Compositions to include examples of things I’m learning about
  • such as monophony, polyphony, chamber group, orchestra
  • Write the manuscript notation of each composition (in Finale)
  • Record  and mix each composition using electronic instruments
  • Also record in “stem” form (keeping individual tracks separate)
  • This is a technique for video game soundtracks and film scores
  • NEXT year, record live instruments and voices?


8/23/18 continued———————————-

A rough draft of what the 12 themes could be like.


Intro Theme
As if you were sitting down with your listener and saying “now let me tell you a tale of my adventures”. There would be hints, “brief mentions”, of all the upcoming themes


Travel theme — 2 variations

2a –Small scale– when about to land, cruising along the surface
rhythmic pulse, repetitive, upbeat, hopeful, yet unsettled
“what will happen next?”

2b –Large scale — galaxy map, “the big picture”
Teleporter, warp jump
Stars streaming by (in the loading screen)

In both cases, suspended chords
Big Picture has austere, “spacy” orchestration
Small Scale sounds more everyday, familiar. EDM?


Empty World
lifeless, peaceful, spacious, open
Only the wheeling stars, and your own heartbeat, for companions
Like walking alone on the beach — breathe deeply, move freely

Use octaves and fifths? Monophonic?
Have sections that are aleatoric (randomized) and ambient (“formless”)


Toxic World
Poisonous, radioactive, weird, stressful, uncomfortable
“mutant” organisms
Sometimes comical, sometimes disgusting
It’s interesting to visit, but you don’t belong here

Use tritones, diminished chords, augmented chords
Use Locrian mode
Use instruments where the intonation is slightly off
Diminished chords can sometimes sound trite and “cheesy”  — which would give the comic affect — think “Dramatic Chipmunk”


Desert World
Serene, beautiful, austere, challenging
Morning and evening light slanting through the scant vegetation

Dry bones, rocks — percussion
mountains — soaring chords
translucent light — something delicate. Changing dynamics
Sunset and light fading away — switch to minor, tempo change


Paradise world
Grass, trees, vegetation, water, bright colors
Familiar, beautiful, joyful
Busy? Crowded?

major key
this section is the brightest point of the cycle
the emotion is simple joy, rather than conflicted & full of longing
orchestral rather than solo or chamber group
many timbres of instruments — diverse, rich


Ocean world — rippling light on water and landscape
Dim light, slow gentle movements underwater

Tempo changes to indicate underwater


Frozen world
Sparkling light on snow, beautiful jewel-like colors
Dangerous temperatures, can die if you stay out too long
Sweet / sinister, harsh, sharp


Broken worlds.

The Toxic worlds are hostile to human life, but they are supposed to be that way; it is their nature; they evolved that way. Gross but charming.

The Broken worlds are not supposed to be that way. Something /someone  broke them. Ominous. Suspenseful. Tense
“Something bad is going to happen”

Irregular rhythms. Discordant notes.
Noise (white, pink)


“Something bad DOES happen”
Storms. Danger. Pursuit. Death.


Theme for my favorite kind of animals, which I call “gervays”
They are comical, awkward, birdlike, rare
Variety of species — large and small, fast and slow, sweet and ‘salty’


Home planet / Farewell theme
most important theme in the whole piece
This is a story about saying goodbye
I travel in this world knowing that it is coming to an end very soon

again, each theme is touched on and “mentioned”
Like a frame around a picture
“We are ending the story now”

Saturday, 8/25 ————————–

I came up with this as something to hang on the wall and take notes on!