Our very own Dan (EA ActionMan) Sheridan had a chance to meet up with Titanfall Composer, Stephen Barton at the prestigious Abbey Road Studios in London. We took this opportunity to grab images, chat about music, and most importantly ask the questions you posted. Below is the first of three entries of our interview with Stephen.
Dan: We are here at the prestigious Abbey Road Studios to record the sound track for Titanfall. What is it like to record here for a video game?
Stephen: It’s pretty awesome. Generally when I’ve recorded here before, it has been for film soundtracks. This room has seen so much great music being made, that to be able to bring a game like Titanfall and really give it the absolute pinnacle in what you can achieve in recording is pretty great.
Dan: Have you planned to add any dynamic music or different songs depending on the way that people play and how a team is playing together?
Stephen: In terms of the way the music is integrated into the game, those elements are still coming together. We are definitely looking at intensity levels, but also thinking about great context. For example, if you’re in the middle of an intense fire fight, you don’t want intense music, because you’re ending up with noise and the music is trying to compete with explosions going off everywhere. So, one of the things we have tried to do is think about music as commentary, as an element that counter points what is going on. For example, when you’re running around as a pilot, the music might be faster generally speaking, as it is faster pace. But it might be less intense at spots and more intense at other spots, just depending on the intensity of the fire fight and sort of finding holes for where music can go and not trying to compete with explosions. That is the overall approach.
Dan: Will the soundtrack use electronic music, real instruments, or are you doing a mixture of both?
Stephen:We are doing a mixture of both. It is sort of a big melting pot musically. One of the things we talked about very early on when we started the music, was that on the fringes of the galaxy there is obviously no rules. So one can imagine in the future that maybe a tiger drum doesn’t have to be Japanese - it could be anything, and taking sounds out of their context, and using them in ways they are not supposed to be used.
We are also using a lot of electronic elements, partly because there is an element of Sci-Fi to it, but then also because there is so much gun fire, so much noise, and so much other sound and it is all loud, all the time. So you need something that is going to cut against that. Funny enough, a lot of traditional elements can sort of compete, but you need something that has that sort of edge to it, and gives you clarity. Then using orchestral elements that bolster that and give it weight, it is a hybrid of the two elements.
Dan: In what ways are you incorporating different genres of music to add intensity or instill comfort and safety to the players?
Stephen: Comfort and Safety? There is not much comfort and safety… The thing that struck me while playing it is, that in other shooters you have some stealthy moments where there are places where it drops down; the sniper levels are pretty quiet. But the whole point was… quiet punctuated by loud bursts. Titanfall is pretty much full on the gas the entire time. It doesn’t let up a huge amount and so it’s often trying to take comfort and safety away. Making you feel like, if you stand still for even a second – you are history. Because that is sort of what happens, you can play steathfully and cloak, but it is not something you can use to stroll through the maps.
Dan: In what ways are you incorporating different genres into Titanfall’s soundtrack?
Stephen: In terms of music and how we are integrating in that sense, I think it’s not necessarily a genre thing; it’s more trying to get a palette of sounds to paint with. So, there are elements drawn from all sorts of genres.
This afternoon we were recording with a fantastic musician, and we recorded electric baritone guitar, which is not an orchestral thing in any sense and never has been and never will be, it is purely a sort of rock thing. But what we are going to do with him is definitely not chugging out rock rifts, but more for a percussive energy underneath. So it is not taking elements out of the genre, but trying to come up with a new sound, a new palette that is instantly recognizable as Titanfall.