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March 2016

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Page 40 of 51 39 POST MARCH 2016 ore powerful game engines mean new possibilities for game scores. Instead of being limited to using stereo- mixed tracks, game studios can use music stems to build interactive scores with mul- tiple layers, music that reacts to the play- er's actions or choices, realtime effects processing on individual music layers, and so much more. Gareth Coker, composer on Microsoft's Ori and the Blind Forest, says, "Now, it's not 'what can we build?' but 'why are we building it?' With current game engines, there are really no limits to what you can do with the music other than one's imagination." Composer Jason Graves, who recently scored Ubisoft's Far Cry Primal, says, "I am a big proponent of delivering lots of granular assets to the client. Proper game audio implementa- tion is manpower intensive and it's really nice having game studios appreciate that upfront. The score only sounds as good as it's implemented." Here, Post asks four composers to delve into the details of how they designed their award-winning game scores. FAR CRY PRIMAL In regards to the score on Ubisoft's newly released caveman adventure game Far Cry Primal, music supervisor Simon Landry at Ubisoft Montreal is quoted as saying, "Get ready for an emotional- ly-provocative soundtrack made out of wood, bones, rocks, and sweat…." So Post wanted to find out just how much sweat is actually in the soundtrack. Award- winning composer Jason Graves (www. answers, "There is sweat on every track of Far Cry Primal — those big drums take a lot of energy to play forcefully. I ended up wearing special gloves while playing some of these in- struments because they were so rough. I literally bled for this score!" Inspired by the game's art, which shows characters in bone necklaces and bamboo plate armor, Graves selected a complementary palette of primitive instruments, like stones, plants, clay pots and even a bucket of dirt. "I thought, what if you took that necklace and shook it? What if you played that bamboo armor? What if you took the firepit and rubbed those stones together? It was all about using the visual cues of the game," says Graves, who raided the hardware store on a quest to find rocks, clay pots, and plants with musically-pleasing tones. "I was slapping plants together with my hands, trying to get different sounds. The terra-cotta pots I found ended up being a minor third apart. I literally had a buck- et of dirt as one of my instruments. But when you get a microphone up on it, you can get some interesting sounds with that bucket of dirt!" Graves set up his organic hardware store haul as a mock drum-kit, with the plants in the standard cymbal positions at far left and right, and the bucket of dirt, clay pots, and rocks arranged in the center. He even miked it like a drum kit, with a pair of AKG C-414 B-ULSs as the overheads for the plant cymbals, and a pair of Blue Microphones Bottle Rocket Stage II w/B8s for close-up on the plants. Graves says, "Those particular microphone capsules have a really hi-fi presence so I could get lots of low-end out of the plant and I could also get lots of high- end. Plus, the tubes really warmed them up." He miked the rest of the kit using a Royer 121 ribbon mic, Telefunken Ela-M260 tube mic (stereo pair), Neumann KM 184 (stereo pair), Sennheiser MD 421 and also a Neumann M-149 tube mic for the bucket of dirt and as a general spot mic when needed. "It's the best sounding bucket of dirt you will ever hear," laughs Graves, who purposely chose tube and ribbon mics to get as much color as he could in the sound. He paired those with a variety of mic preamps, including two AMS Neve 1081s, two API 512s, two Daking Mic Pre 500s and a Phoenix Audio DRS-8 V2. "I had 14 microphones set up in the room, all going into preamps and compressors to track the whole score live. There were literally hundreds of tracks; that was a fairly arduous task. There were no virtual instruments; it was all performed." To accompany his primitive percus- sion, Graves recorded vocals performed by Mexican singer/composer Malukah, as well as guttural grunts and drones that he and musician Alan Atkinson performed. The three different tribes in Far Cry Primal speak a fictional language. Ubisoft hired linguists to develop three distinct dia- lects — Wenja, Udam and Izila, all based on the common ancient Proto-Indo- European language. "Malukah was singing and chanting her tribe's fictional dialect," states Graves. He paired the different vocals — singing, chanting, screaming and grunting with different instruments, like flutes and animal horns, to help distin- guish one tribe from another. Graves's favorite track from Far Cry Primal is "The Taken Wejna," which features plenty of primal elements, Aztec death whistles, flutes and Malukah's vocals. "The track really runs the gamut, from quiet explora- tion to energetic, fast-paced action." M Far Cry Primal (left page and top): Jason Graves made use of 'primative' instruments, which were recorded using mics from AKG, Blue, Neumann, Sennheiser and other leading manufacturers.

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