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 Dynamic Music

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Should we use dynamic music?
DESTROY ALL YOUR HARD WORK ON THE MICROBE MUSIC AND START OVER WITH DYNAMIC VERSIONS, MY COMPOSER MINIONS
14%
 14% [ 2 ]
Yes, except for the microbe stage
36%
 36% [ 5 ]
Yes, but only for society onwards
36%
 36% [ 5 ]
No
14%
 14% [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 14
 

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Oliveriver
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PostSubject: Dynamic Music   Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:50 pm

A commonly raised topic on this forum about sound is the possibility of dynamic music:
http://thrivegame.canadaboard.net/t403-discussion-for-dynamic-music

For those not familiar with the term, it's where multiple layered tracks using the same structure fade in and out depending on the circumstances. Hongchong7 summed up the process as such:

hongchong7 wrote:
How it works is there are 2 audio tracks exactly same size in length, matched in beat and tempo. The music would cross-fade from track to track to create the effect of additional instruments playing.

(Side note: In this thread, 'theme' refers to all incarnations of a piece, while 'track' means only one variant.)

The verdict reached on the original thread (and every other time it's cropped up in the Misc thread, etc.) is that, while a cool idea, it's not worthy of much thought right now. However, with the microbe soundtrack done for the time being, sound effects finished in a preliminary state and implementation of music into the multicellular stage still quite a way off, it might be useful to consider it now in preparation for the future.

For me, the best use of dynamic music in a game has been FTL (but then again, I have been playing it a ridiculous amount recently, so my view might be swayed). It has two variants for each theme bar the main theme - an explore variant and a battle variant. Thrive may require quite a bit more, as there are many more situations which can be encountered, especially if we're looking at all stages here.

Just to make something clear, the Main Theme and music accompanying major events will not be dynamic. I'd also vastly prefer it if we didn't go back and rewrite everything for the microbe stage as dynamic music. Besides, what else do you do in the microbe stage other than float around, which we have adequately scored anyway?

I remember having a conversation with WJacobC about this, and he suggested having sections of themes to go with particular policies or aspects of your nation in the industrial stage. A theocracy would have tubular bells and church organs playing over the basic chord pattern, while a communist society would have lots of horns, marching drums and seventh chords. When put together (should you ever decide a communist theocracy is anything but ridiculous), you'd have everything playing at the same time, giving a feel for both aspects of your nation. This approach sounds appealing, but it's difficult to implement, seeing as either we'd have to find some way of playing multiple pieces of music on top of each other in-game, or create a track for every possible combination, increasing size requirements enormously. A better solution would be to have only two or three variants of each initial theme, perhaps for war, peace and something else. This doesn't sound anywhere near as exciting, but it'll likely be the only way we can do it.

Pros:
- Fading between similar themes is easier on the ears than stopping one and starting a completely new one
- Gives composers an opportunity to explore the limits of a theme in different variants
- Recognisable melodies will be present in both variants
- It's just plain awesome

Cons:
- Increases size requirements
- Requires precision and thought as to how different tracks may interact
- Some theme structures will be unsuitable if a different mood is desired
- Music from other sources can't be made dynamic
- Sometimes an effective part of one track will become ineffective in another guise

In my opinion, dynamic music is best kept to only the later stages, if at all. The concept sounds amazing, and if it can be pulled off as intended it certainly will be, but it's difficult to get it right and there are many pitfalls. I'd like to hear everyone else's opinions, though.

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PostSubject: Re: Dynamic Music   Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:06 pm

Hmmm... Yeah... The concept is awesome and attractive, and in theory is a nice idea, but if we implement this, it's not going to be worth it in my opinion...
Oliveriver wrote:
Cons:
- Increases size requirements
- Requires precision and thought as to how different tracks may interact
- Some theme structures will be unsuitable if a different mood is desired
- Music from other sources can't be made dynamic
- Sometimes an effective part of one track will become ineffective in another guise
The bolded points scare me... maybe we could implement some sort of hybrid concept?
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PostSubject: Re: Dynamic Music   Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:02 am

I'm not sure I like the idea of the themes playing on top of each other (even if it's in a modular fashion). Like for example, I like the James Bond original theme, and I like The Good the Bad and the Ugly theme, but playing at the same time it would probably sound terrible and confusing. Couldn't the thematic music be spaced out, so for example if you are both communistic and theocratic, then it would randomly play themes from both of those categories. There would also be a certain heirarchy to what music to play, so for example battle music would always supplant whatever music was playing before.


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PostSubject: Re: Dynamic Music   Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:14 am

NickTheNick wrote:
I like the James Bond original theme, and I like The Good the Bad and the Ugly theme, but playing at the same time it would probably sound terrible and confusing.

Of course, but these themes were never meant to be played on top of each other and therefore share no musical qualities (in fact, a quick search shows the James Bond theme is in G major and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is in G minor, so these two in particular would clash hugely). To compose tracks that do work together, they'd need the same tempo (speed), key signature (which set of notes is used), chord sequence and theme progression.

Here's a good example demonstrating the way dynamic music works:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EMbCf1acKo

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PostSubject: Re: Dynamic Music   Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:24 pm

So I managed to come up with more to say than "this is marvellous, you have my blessing". Over in the other thread I found an intriguing suggestion:
that guy wrote:
I think if anybodies up for a more dynamic expericance/more work, than we should make resolutions for every piece of music
Clearly, that makes extra work, but I think it's so good an idea I was inspired to make my own suggestion: leitmotifs. Say we had leitmotifs for certain occurrences -- each is designed to fit the main theme of the stage, and thus, each must be played at the right time, so it matches the beat and chord. A resolution for a piece of music could then be done by making (and wiring up) a leitmotif for the fadeout of the piece in question. And in that case, with even more work, one could feasibly transition between themes of entirely different chord progression, tempo, and all -- all it takes is a carefully crafted bridging "leitmotif" (I'm starting to overuse that, but it gets the meaning of "short track" across). In the case of switching themes entirely, you'd probably want that to mark a momentous event, where everything changes -- stage changes maybe, or major intrastage events (founding your first/second city, for example).
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PostSubject: Re: Dynamic Music   Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:15 am

I've actually already managed to sneak a few parts of the Main Theme into other themes to make it the first recurring leitmotif (in this one, for instance).

Your idea sounds intriguing, but I don't quite follow how it would work. Are you suggesting that a common leitmotif plays at the end and beginning of every theme so that they can fade into each other through it? That might work, but it would require a lot of organisation to get right, and not to mention it might limit the scope of what themes within a stage can do as they'd have to somehow incorporate the same key signature and tempo.

Also, the first option of the poll is not a real option. No matter how many people vote for it, it's not going to happen.

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