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use of music

use of music
« on: February 29, 2012, 09:34:00 am »

What's the opinion on the use of music. I don't feel comfortable to use music to create mood, emotions or whatever.
Change the music and you get a complete change of the mood, temperature (whatever you want to call it).

Is music only there to be used and abused, to enhance the experience? Should music be used as a backdrop or a mere illustration?

What should we do with music in a notgame?

( I watched a silly movie yesterday, Equilibrium. And I was already bored, but then there was this great scene where Christian Bale dropped the toy eifeltower, and there was this music and ... wait, that scene was great because it was cut to the beginning of Beethovens 9th symphony, and the music was great, that's all. The scene without the music would be nothing).

So, that's my concern here. Do we want our software to be great, or do we want to rely on the greatness of other arts? Maybe I am exaggerating here a bit...
« Last Edit: February 29, 2012, 09:59:48 am by György Dudas »
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Re: use of music
« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2012, 10:13:27 am »

Open all registers! Don't leave a stone unturned! Who cares about purity or loyalty to a technology? The point is to touch people. Everything is allowed!

That being said, there's a lot that can be done with music in the procedural context of a computer program like a videogame. In The Path, for instance, we have only music and no sound effects. Lots of synchronized tracks are running simultaneously and are actively mixed according to variables influenced by playing. The result is an immense range of moods and musical colors. This turns the game almost into a musical instrument that computer and human play together. Interestingly, the player/spectator/listener can manipulate the music that has such an emotional effect on them, themselves. For instance, when the music gets too creepy, they can just do something else or go somewhere else to get a different mood.
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Re: use of music
« Reply #2 on: February 29, 2012, 02:36:35 pm »

The arts have always been about manipulating emotions. There were arguments against plays in ancient Greece because they got the audience all riled up and emotional. In the 60's and 70's there was this push to make things more "real" with movies and theatre. Frankly, I think a lot of that stuff is just tedious. I couldn't get through the first 15 minutes of The Deer Hunter. Andy Warhol did stupid crap like filming a building for 8 hours or something. A real movie about real things would be a 2.5 hour movie about someone shopping at Wal-Mart, picking their nose. A few might think this would be brilliant, I think it would be dull as shit and worse than watching paint dry.

So yeah, use music.
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Irony is for cowards.
Re: use of music
« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2012, 04:16:52 pm »

It's always interesting to experiment with computer games without the use of music, but music as tool in game making is very effective to create mood, so I think that one should not refuse to use it.
The mood of the music does not always affect the mood of the game directly.
I used gorgeous music of Taylor Hayward in "Just Close Your Eyes". This music is extremely beautiful, and I used it to create a contrast to static noise. Some people considered this game as "creepy" and, wow, they called music "creepy" too  Shocked
Another example is in Kubrick's movie "Clockwork Orange", where classical music is played during the scenes of extreme violence
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Re: use of music
« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2012, 05:07:08 pm »

The Wire is an interesting case of music usage, where all music diegetic ("real"). But then there is instead a lot of emphasis on background noise. So you still need to have other stimuli instead.

That video games would be purer without music (or any other asset) in any sense is something I really disagree with.

I do agree that using music can be cheap at times, but that is true for all things and it does not mean one has to use it in cheap way.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2012, 05:24:20 pm by Thomas »
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Re: use of music
« Reply #5 on: February 29, 2012, 05:17:23 pm »

I (for my part) will try to include music in a very conscious way. I did not intend to say, that we should not use music. We should, but we should pay attention (preaching to the choir here Wink ) ... interesting, that The Path did not have sound effects... I remember them, but they must have been music.

Demons Souls did something interesting with sound. When you were in human form, you could hear your foot steps, your armor when walking. In your soul form, you did hear nothing of it.
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Re: use of music
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2012, 10:44:05 am »

What's the opinion on the use of music. I don't feel comfortable to use music to create mood, emotions or whatever.
You are not alone. Robert Bresson, one of the good old masters of cinema, says in an interview, concerning this:

I was very slow to notice that mysteriously invisble orchestral scores were contrary to the essence of film. I was slow to realize that sound defines space on film. People who experimented with 3D cinema were barking up the wrong tree. The third dimension is sound. It gives the screen depth, it makes characters seem tangible.  It makes it appear that one might walk amongst them. (...)
I have completely done away with atmospheric music in my films. It took me a long time to see how nefarious it was, particularly if it is glorious music.  Immediately, it makes the pictures seem flat, whereas a sound effect will give them depth. 
 


I once had the idea that the use of  background music in film is a survival from the days of silent film. In that case the accompaning music did really contribute something, difficult to name – but evident if you compare running a silent film with and without its music score.   

But all of this is also a question of film style. I can't imagine Fellini's films without Nino Rota's music.       
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Re: use of music
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2012, 10:54:57 am »

Quote from: Robert Bresson
People who experimented with 3D cinema were barking up the wrong tree. The third dimension is sound. It gives the screen depth, it makes characters seem tangible.  It makes it appear that one might walk amongst them. (...)
I have completely done away with atmospheric music in my films. It took me a long time to see how nefarious it was, particularly if it is glorious music.  Immediately, it makes the pictures seem flat, whereas a sound effect will give them depth.

Very interesting quote! Thank you, Pehr.

In a way, I think this is a choice. Sometimes a maker may want the film or game to be "flat". Maybe this is why many Hollywood movies have pseudo-Wagnerian scores: they want to make sure that you do not believe that they are real, that the experience remains superficial.

In the new version of our game 8, we also want to use music in this way: purposefully triggering "happy peace" feelings, pushing the complexity to the background, allowing the player to simply relax.
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Re: use of music
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2012, 07:32:14 pm »

Play to the strengths of the medium. Make the music part of the game. Make it interactive, responsive. Use sound effects as music, and music as sound effects. Make it random, different every time. Or exclude it completely. Artifical constraints can be liberating.

But yeah, don't just slap a film score on a game.
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Re: use of music
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2012, 07:36:21 pm »

Regarding artifical constraints and music, I think the Dogme films were quite successful in showing that you don't need music to evoke emotions. I was on the edge of my seat throughout The Celebration. Music would have just been in the way.
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