Composition Series - #4 Ambient Tracks Part #1
As you navigate your way around the galaxy map in Lord of Rigel, a selection of ambient music tracks will randomly play in the background. This part of the game allows the player to explore star systems and the music helps immerse the player and reflect the scale of the galaxy they are in.
When tasked to write these tracks, it was specified that they were not to be just "aural wallpaper" but for them to incorporate form and a strong sense of melody. However, after writing a few in this way I realized there needed to be a better balance between these melodic tracks and tracks which incorporated soundscapes, so as not to overwhelm the listener. Creating that sense of space is important in a game about, well… space!
When producing these tracks I am making sure they are deep and wide with no sounds really at the front of the mix. Again, this allows the music to work without distracting the player; just doing a job by creating an atmosphere. At the moment, the track lengths are relatively short; between 2 and 3 minutes. I still may extend these if I feel they end too quickly in game, or potentially write a section at the end of one track so it can fade better into another.
In terms of the sounds I’ve used, I have tried to keep it reasonably simple so the mix doesn’t appear too cluttered. Breathy synths, pads, bell sounds, synth brass, sub bass and samples with heavy amounts of reverberation make up the core of them. The reverberation I have been mainly using is a dense hall with long decays and a high wet signal.
On occasions I have used processed percussive elements (low sub hits, higher pitched sounds with reduced attack times) to help blend with the rest of the mix, break up the arrangements and give them more interest. This is different to the species tracks which are slightly more forward (and aggressive sounding in the case of the hostile versions).
I initially thought this would be the quickest and easiest part of the soundtrack to write but in all honesty it has been the most difficult to get right. Thankfully I am pretty much there with it now but I foresee some extra mixing in the not so distant future.
Join us next week for a discussion on the ship tactical combat tracks!