Posts Tagged ‘to’


Video Games: The top music talents plus how to make Chiptunes with Propellerheads Reason

May 5, 2009


Video Games: The top music talents

Field rewards composers with creative latitude

The next generation of bigscreen composers may just emerge from the videogame field.

It’s already begun, with composers like Michael Giacchino (“Ratatouille”) and Christopher Lennertz (“Alvin and the Chipmunks”) receiving their first big exposure in games before getting the call to do TV or features.

“I feel like an A&R person when it comes to discovering what I hope to be the next generation of composers that are coming from new mediums,” says Steve Schnur, worldwide exec of music/marketing for Electronic Arts, a leading interactive-software publisher and distributor.

But, he adds, “I hear the term ‘videogame composer’ a lot. I reject that. Great composers are great composers and, musically speaking, the technology should not lead the way. We try to recognize true talent, whether young talent or established talent.”

Many of the top composers in the game field have few if any feature credits — but most, if pressed, express the desire to “graduate” to the bigscreen. Some are more skeptical than others about whether that’s really possible.

Game composers can make anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 per minute of music, and many games demand 80-100 minutes. There is no backend royalty as in film or TV scores because games do not generate “public performances” as defined by the performing-rights societies collecting that money.

A look at some of the top names in the brave new world of game scores:


Schyman, 55, is one of the few game composers who enjoyed success as a composer in traditional media (mostly TV and low-budget features). He first tackled games back in 1993 (“Voyeur”). “Back then, it was really a backwater,” Schyman recalls.

But orchestral work in TV took a nosedive, and an offer to do a new game that demanded 1950s-era, sci-fi style music (“Destroy All Humans!”) was appealing. For “Bioshock,” which followed, Schyman was able to record a large string section and employ L.A. Philharmonic concertmaster Martin Chalifour as violin soloist.

The hugely popular “Bioshock” even inspired a cult of YouTube videos attempting Schyman’s “beastly difficult” (per one YouTuber) Rachmaninoff-esque classical-piano piece. (Schyman finally gave in to requests and put the sheet music on his website.)

“I’m getting to write really interesting music, I’m getting well paid for it, and I’m getting orchestras,” Schyman says. “I’ve found my voice doing videogames.”


Hokoyama, 34, conducted the largest L.A. orchestra yet for a game: 104 players at Sony in late 2007 for the PlayStation 3 game “Afrika.” The Japanese-born, U.S.-based composer recently won the music of the year award for “Afrika” at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

For “Afrika,” Hokoyama says, the producers wanted a “gigantic, sweeping, gorgeous, full-orchestra sound” and spent an estimated $200,000 to record 35 minutes with an A-list ensemble and mix for four days after that. “My ultimate goal would be to do film,” says Hokoyama, who divides his time between his native Japan and the U.S., “but at this point I just want to keep the doors wide open to any field.”



Graves, 36, whose “Dead Space” game music won a BAFTA award, was frustrated by his mid-1990s experiences in the film world. “Unless you were at the top of the totem pole, they just wanted you to rip off something else,” he says from his North Carolina home. “There was no originality whatsoever.”

Then, seven years ago, he was offered his first game and hasn’t looked back.

“The creative freedom is above and beyond anything that I was able to do in film,” he says.

For “Dead Space,” he created an aggressive, visceral soundscape of textures, clusters and aleatoric music reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith or Marco Beltrami.


Zur, 43, is an Israeli-born composer who was busy in children’s TV until he got a game offer in 1996. He’s now done 60 of them, including the popular “Prince of Persia” and “Crysis.”

“In TV and movies,” says Zur, “the music usually will play the scene. Everything is totally locked to the picture. Videogames are the exact opposite. In games, you get to decide what you want the player to feel. It’s all about emotions.” Zur often scores for full orchestra, choir and, as in “Prince of Persia,” exotic ethnic instruments.



A chiptune, or chip music, is music written in sound formats where all the sounds are synthesized in realtime by a computer or video game console sound chip, instead of using sample-based synthesis. The “golden age” of chiptunes was the mid 1980s to early 1990s, when such sound chips were the most common method for creating music on computers. Chiptunes are closely related to video game music, which often featured chiptunes out of necessity. The term has also been recently applied to more recent compositions that attempt to recreate the chiptune sound for purely aesthetic reasons, albeit with more complex technology.

Early computer sound chips had only simple tone and noise generators with few channels, imposing limitations on both the complexity of the sounds they could produce and the number of notes that could be played at once. In their desire to create a more complex arrangement than what the medium apparently allowed, composers developed creative approaches when developing their own electronic sounds and scores, employing a diversity of both methods of sound synthesis, such as pulse width modulation and wavetable synthesis, and compositional techniques, such as a liberal use of arpeggiation. The resultant chiptunes sometimes seem harsh or squeaky to the unaccustomed listener.

Tettix shows HOWTO make “Fake ‘n’ Bake” chiptunes with Reason

Judson “Tettix” Cowan, has taken the time to show us how he makes “Fake ‘n’ Bake Chiptunes” in Propellerheads’ Reason. Which is awesome, because if I ever get off my ass and write that chiptune opera we’ve talked about doing for ages, I’ll probably be doing it in Reason, not in retro hardware.

Source: Variety


How to Make Your Guitar Sound Like a Sax! The Sonuus G2M

April 22, 2009


No modifications are required to your guitar; no special pickups to install; and nothing needs to be “stuck” onto your instrument. It works with all electric guitars.

The G2M™ is a simple-to-use, highly effective, guitar-to-MIDI converter. It is “Universal” because it doesn’t need a special pick-up mounted on your guitar, but instead simply connects to your guitar like any other effects pedal or tuner.

Designed to give accurate triggering, with low-latency, it is a true plug-and-play solution for monophonic MIDI guitar. It can be used to sequence bass lines and guitar solos add an edge to your live performances — it opens up many creative possibilities.


  • Any electric guitar can be used as a solo MIDI guitar.
  • No guitar modifications or special pickups required.
  • Robust note detection — minimises wrong notes.
  • Accurate pitch-bend determination.
  • Low latency.
  • Built-in tuner for standard guitar tuning.
  • Battery-powered with long battery life.
  • Compact, lightweight and portable.

Universal Appeal

No modifications are required to your guitar; no special pickups to install; and nothing needs to be “stuck” onto your instrument. It works with all electric guitars.

The G2M™ universally appeals to all guitarists from novices to seasoned professionals. Keenly priced to fit any budget, with the robust reliable performance expected by the finest stagemen.

Incredibly simple to use:

  1. Plug your guitar into instrument in to power-up the G2M™
  2. Connect your MIDI device (or computer) to the MIDI out
  3. Play notes on your guitar and MIDI will be sent out!

Powered from a single PP3 battery, its long battery life combined with small size makes the G2M™ the ideal accessory to keep with your guitar. Not only does it provide fast and precise tuning, but it also gives you instant MIDI capability for any electric guitar!

Robust Performance

Research has shown us that the most important aspect for pitch-to-MIDI conversion is reliable and reproducible triggering of notes. While low-latency is important, robust triggering is the key to usability — you can easily adapt to some latency, but you cannot adapt to random, spurious notes.

By virtue of the unique, inherently robust technology used in the G2M™ you will be able to reliably generate accurate MIDI quickly and easily. Notes are generated exactly as played, and the nuances of your performance are captured with fast, accurate pitch-bend data.

Built-in Tuner

The built-in tuner uses our PULSAR™ tuning technology where the power LED doubles as a tuning indicator. This innovative tuner gives you a fast and accurate way to tune your guitar.

Instrument Thru

Featuring a high-impedance input circuit, the G2M™ won’t sap your tone when using it “in-line” before your amp, or other effects pedals. You can then easily combine MIDI sounds with your normal guitar sound for some exciting musical possibilities.

Improves Playing Technique

For optimal MIDI conversion, your guitar playing needs to be clean and accurate. Accidental notes, resonating open strings and other sounds can often be converted into undesired MIDI notes. Often you don’t hear these when playing guitar yourself, but can detect them easily when listening live to the generated MIDI.

Striving to improve MIDI note accuracy, encourages clean picking and accurate fingering, with good control over non-sounding strings by damping them.

Not only will your MIDI output be more accurate, your normal guitar playing will sound clearer and more professional. It’s like having a tutor sitting beside you giving you advice. It’s also great fun!

Most of all, it’s Fun!

When you try the G2M™ and generate some new sounds, the first thing that strikes you is how much fun it is. Unleash new creative inspiration and invigorate your soul.


  • Power supply 9V PP3 battery. Average current consumption < 10mA. (Typically more than 70 hours operating time.)
  • Tuner notes E2, A2, D3, G3, B3, E4 (Standard 6-string guitar tuning)
  • Tuner accuracy <1 cent when pulsing at <1Hz
  • Note detection range E2 to E6
  • MIDI latency 16ms to 30ms depending on note and characteristics of input signal
  • MIDI power 5V (via 200 ohm resistor as per the MIDI specification)
  • Size 83mm x 58mm x 34mm
  • Weight 80g (without battery)
  • Inputs 6.35mm mono jack (switches unit on when jack is inserted)
  • Outputs 6.35mm mono jack connected directly to input jack. Standard 5-pin MIDI socket.
  • Switches Boost switch to select between low- and high-output guitars