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  1. You probably haven’t been counting, but this week marks the 100th edition of my weekly #TuneTuesday, so I wanted to do something a little bit different and talk about one of my own compositions, something I try to avoid doing so it doesn’t look like I’m arrogant. In any case, this weeks #TuneTuesday is one of my more personal compositions. It is ‘Cigarette Smoke (Reprise)’ from Lore By Night, a Vampire: The Masquerade Podcast. In case the above title didn’t give it away, Lore By Night is a podcast about the tabletop RPG game, Vampire: The Masquerade, where players assume the role of vampires in a modern night setting. They must fight their foes, the ongoing vampire politics, and the constant fight with their own humanity and The Beast, this ravenous nature within them that just wants to sleep, feed and kill everything around them. It is harrowing stuff, and there is no real game quite like it. Each cue found in the soundtrack was my attempt at presenting the sound of the World of Darkness (the universe in which VtM exists) in a different light, whilst making sure the music wasn’t too involved to distract from the narration of the VtM metaplot and lore in the podcast. Those who have played ‘Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines’, or watched the World of Darkness Documentary on Amazon Prime would know that the ‘established’ sound for the World of Darkness is edgy goth rock, which does a splendid job at covering the aforementioned conflicts. I believed, and still do believe, that there are many ways of exploring that inner conflict with oneself, which is why a lot the vast majority of music found within the podcast is either jazz or orchestral, which I (perhaps biasedly) believe are much more effective mood setters than goth rock of the late 90s/early 00s. There are exceptions to this of course, which leads me onto Cigarette Smoke, which I describe as a soft middle of the road rock track with acoustic guitar and jazz harmonies (you can listen to the original here). I had two main thought processes when I first imagined Cigarette Smoke. I imagine vampires to incredibly miserable, perhaps depressed, creatures. It must not be easy for vampires to totally cut off from their former lives as humans, fighting each night just to survive. I imagine that friendships/alliance are formed between vampires on this concept/understanding alone and they meet in bars, smoking and drinking their collective clusterfucks into oblivion. This piece reflects this inner-struggle with oneself, reflected by the three chords in the ‘verse’ sections; Bm9, Fm#9/B (or B69omit3rd), Bm9 and F#mM7, which is a real spicy chord that many people will hate. It sounds like I am constantly playing a mistake, but I assure you it is a very deliberate choice. The tune was always very much intended to have this orchestration, but I wanted to test the waters with its structure, as I do with everything I write. Before I notate things onto the score (which the Lore By Night ost is remarkably assent of, for I played most of the instruments on the soundtrack (minus the orchestra and choir samples obviously)), I take myself to the piano and just play. I make note of anything I like and dislike, as I can attempt to bastardise such rejects at a later date. Cigarette Smoke (Reprise) was never is a 5:32sec one-take, improvised take me playing with ideas on the piano, with no editing of the sort (which is why bits of it sound out of time to the trained ear, but I like to think of it as being free). It was never supposed to be included on the album. It uses the same harmonies as the original, but with a slight change to Em7 here in the chorus to G6 in the main version. I mentioned earlier I had two thought processes. The second is fare more personal struggle with myself. Without going into specifics, I was in an emotionally and mentally dark place when the piece was fully conceived, and I feel that comes across with the spicy jazz chords and the aggressive bridge section in the main version of the cue. I wouldn't be able to recreate this piece again, not with the same level of energy and passion I used to create it. Even though the mix is questionable and the elitist within me hates myself for publishing it to the world, I much prefer this more raw rendition, in addition to the out of time piano reprise. This is why this one the personal pieces I have composed to date.
  2. This weeks #TuneTuesday has me return to one of my favourite games and soundtracks. It is ‘Revised Shibuya -another-’ from CHAOS;CHILD composed by Takeshi Abo. I have mentioned this relatively unknown title before but to give a brief summary, Chaos;Child is the fourth main entry in the Science Adventure series (the same series the famous 'Steins;Gate' comes from) and a thematic sequel to Chaos;Head. As such, the plot is incredibly involved and rather confusing at times. In it, you take the role of Takuru Miyashiro, the president of his school's newspaper club, who investigates the "Return of The New Generation Madness" serial murder case that has been taking place in Shibuya. During the course of the game, he experiences delusions where the player gets the option to choose if Takuru should experience a positive or negative delusion or neither. These choices affect the plot's direction, causing it to branch off from the main narrative into different routes. That is, once you've played the game through for the first time, as you only have access to the common route (the canon route if you would). Chaos;Child is a murder mystery thriller, so death is commonplace within the narrative. Various members of the cast are thrown into mortal danger constantly, so one would expect the many cues to be creepy ambiences and/or horrifying assault on your eardrums. And you would be right with this, as there are many cases of both of those. My recent mentioning of this game was one of those such cues, ‘Peak Level’, which I described as ‘a broken Trance/Dubstep with some weird tribal vocals going on’ that usually accompanies the game’s horrific murder scenes or/and when shit hits the fan. As important as it is to have a horror game with scary music, what makes all good horror standout is the mastery over pacing. If you were to have scare after scare after scare, constantly, for however long your story is, then it wouldn’t be that scary. Your player (or reader in this case) would become climatised to it, and you never want someone to become climatised with scary things. It’s not good on the psyche. There are two ways you could address this. You can take the usual Western approach and just up the scares, but then end making the billionth SAW film. Whilst this is necessary, what is often needed are some calmer moments, so the player/reader can digest what has just happened and be lured into a false sense of security, and have time for some character development. ‘CHAOS;CHILD’ has pacing like no other, and has lots of fantastic music to depict all sorts of moods. As the title would imply, this is a variant on Revised Shibuya, which is much calmer and is often played when the characters, most of which are high school students and best of friends are trying to enjoy their lives, running the newspaper club, having meals, or going out shopping with each other in the bustling shopping district of Tokyo’s Shibuya district. You actually hear this version of the cue more than the other one, and more than any other cue in the game for that fact, and it never feels boring or repetitive. This also is to do with it’s pacing, and how the various instruments build and add to the starting piano part. There are also some creative use of chromaticism, which are notes and chords that are not usually found within the home key which in this case is the happy key of C major, the does a wonderful job at pulling you into the social life of the cast, making the world and those who live within feel alive and genuine. It is not an interactive score by any means, but it delivers on the emotion with amazing prowess.
  3. To carry on this musical #Spooktober, this weeks #TuneTuesday is the creepy cue 'Who's There?' from Persona 4, composed by Shoji Meguro. Persona 4, like the Persona games before and after it revolves around a group of Japanese high school kids who are granted magical powers by a man with large nose to defeat this impending evil that lurks in the shadows. These powers allow them to summon a Persona (the protagonist can summon multiple), which is a manifestation of their inner-self. It is essentially Pokemon with an existential crisis. There are two things that have made Persona 4 particularly famous: 1) How hard ATLUS has milked the franchise with a variety of spin-offs, including an extended version (Persona 4: GOLDEN) 2 fighting games, surprisingly good dancing game. In addition, there are also 2 animes and manga. 2) How happy-clappy much of the game is. If you are a fan of slice-of-life anime where everyone and everything is fine and enjoy the schoolfriends having fun and solving problems in their life, you will enjoy Persona 4, without a shadow of a doubt. You'll probably enjoy GOLDEN more because there are more in-game events where the characters have even more fun with each other. Such as them going to the beach, bringing it all the more closer to its slice-of-life anime counterpart. Now what I have avoided is the plot, because it is actually incredibly dark, the severity I feel is overlooked from time-to-time with fans within the Persona community. The plot revolves around a strange case of murders, where people are being wound up dead, strung up by TV aerials, the first two being young women, one of them a teenager. Besides this, what they also had in common is that they both appeared on TV, as would the other targets on The Midnight Channel, which is only on during midnight in the rain. The protagonist and friends become an Investigation Team to solve the case by entering the TV World and saving those who appear on The Midnight Channel. It is during the more sinister moments in the game where this creepy piano motif plays. Either when an antagonist threatens the party, horrible truths are discovered. The cue is at it's strongest when it plays just before the game's climax when the party has to make decisions that not only affect the outcome of the story but whether certain characters live or die by your direct hand. You can become a heartless murderer in this game if you wish. Similarly, there is a secret(ish) ending you can achieve in GOLDEN which is just as, if not more heartless as the previous one. You can work out that one for yourself... As for the cue itself, it's barely in F#minor, which can be worked out from the haunting tremolo strings and stabbing celli (plural for cello) and basses. It works so well in distilling horror to the players in the game, especially as one that is as upbeat and as jolly as this one. You can be having fun with your friends or working on that social link when BANG! The scary music returns and someone is dead or about to die with next to no chance of saving them. In an instant, your lives are in turmoil once more. This is one of the few cases where the music of a Persona game delivers horror brilliantly.
  4. I have decided to celebrate Spooktober by choosing #TuneTuesday tunes that are either spooky or paints-shitting terrifying. To kick the scarefest off, this weeks #TuneTuesday is 'Black Fairy' from Silent Hill 2, composed by Akira Yamaoka. Set some undetermined time after the events of the original Silent Hill, you take control of Jaaaaaaaaaames Sunderland, who returns to the eponymous town after receiving a letter from his wife, Mary, to come to their 'special place'. It's a fairly normal premise, but what makes it odd is that Mary is dead and has been for 3 years. Regardless, James sets out to the monster-ridden town that is enveloped in a strange for. From this opening, the astute player will work out that James isn't ok, and neither are the few people he encounters on his journey. I'll say no more on the matter, as I will enter massive spoiler territory. That being said, this cue is played during the final boss and is a perfect culmination of the game's themes and ideas. James finds out that <<INSERT SPOILER>> and his whole world begins to crumble. The strange, almost atonal synth pad just pulsates, not really going anywhere creating this incredibly uncomfortable tension for the player. Yet somehow, there is something about it that makes you want to listen to it over and over. Like much of the game's soundtrack, 'Black Fairy' has a strange dreamlike quality, or more appropriately, one befitting an awful nightmare. I highly recommend lovers of horror games and game soundtracks to listen to experience Silent Hill 2 and it's trippy ambiences, for it is arguably one of the best horror games to exist, with one of the most unusually pleasing soundtracks.
  5. This weeks #TuneTuesday comes from one of my favourite JRPGs. It is 'The Way of The Embodied Dragon' from Tales of Berseria, composed by Motoi Sakuraba Tales of Berseria is the most recent entry of the Tales and acts as a prequel to Tales of Zestiria, some 1000 years prior. The Tales games take the usual anime adventure, happy-clappy setting of a group of varied and talented friends off to vanquish some great evil. Berseria is not so jolly. Velvet Crowe and her younger brother Laphicet are saved by her brother-in-law Artorius when a Scarlet Night occured, causing daemons to attack their village. Seven years later, Velvet takes care of her sickly brother with Artorius. The Scarlet Night returns, with the entire village succumbing to the Daemonblight: when Velvet finds Artorius, sacrificing her brother as part of a ritual, known as the "Advent". Artorius attempts to use her for the Advent as well, but she fights back and the Daemonblight possesses her arm, mutating it and turning her into a Daemon called a "Therion", with the ability to absorb Daemons. In a rage, she slaughters the nearby Daemons before passing out. She awakes in a prison for Daemons on the island Titania, swearing to kill Artorius and avenge her brother's murder. Velvet does encounter others who wish to stop Artorious and his newly founded Church, but for different reasons. Every character in the party is incredibly selfish, acting in their own accord, using the others for their own benefit.It is not until the very end of the game's narrative that they acquaintances. It is where this cue sneaks in. This cue plays during the final area, where Velvet and co. are off for that final showdown with Artorious, ending his tyrannical rule. I can't reveal why the cue is named as such without spoilers, but as the dragon and the dungeon itself, it is quite the epic cue. The cue begins in G minor, but doesn't really stay there for very long as it leaps and stabs its way into other keys totally detached from the starting key. The constantly shifting harmony creates a lot of tension, which is added to the excitement the player climbing higher and higher through this last dungeon to fight the final boss after a good 60hrs of compelling narrative and frantic fights. I don't usually make comments about samples, but I feel that it's required here to note that whilst I would have loved have heard more live instruments in this cue (and the rest of the soundtrack), there is a certain 'punch' that has been achieved that I don't think one could have replicated with a live string section and drums. I could be wrong in that assumption, but if there are any live performances of it out there, chuck it my way and prove me wrong!
  6. This weeks #TuneTuesday comes from one of the Persona games, the PSP remake of Persona 1! The cue is 'School Days' by Shoji Meguro, with vocals by Yumi Kawamura, a long time vocalist for many of the songs in the Persona games. The Persona games where the player controls a Japanese high school student who has the ability to summon 'Personas', the multiple selves within them (your friends gain the ability to summon a Persona during the course of the story). Think of it as Pokemon with an existential crisis What makes the more recent Persona games (3-5 & their various spin-offs) stand-out from everyone else is that you play out practically every single in-game day (the late afternoons anyway, when the school bell has run). You can meet up with friends (and make new ones outside of the classroom) and bond 'Social Links' with them, which has the gameplay mechanic of making Personas of a certain type stronger. You can go and have something to eat, study in the library, watch a film, go fishing, go practice some baseball, which are just things you can do in Persona 5 may I add (each activity increases a certain skill you have)! The music for these sections always reflect the carefree attitude one has spending your teenage years with nothing to worry about (such as a previous #TuneTuesday of mine, 'Tokyo Daylight' from Persona 5). Narratively, it's like you are playing your favourite slice-of-life anime before going all shonen mode as you beat up Shadows (essentially wild/bad Personas/Daemons (varies from game-to-game)), which is the game proper, but it is a much smaller portion of the games. The original Persona game (and it's PSP remake) does away with all this social stuff and have the players just fight with their friends, once they can wield their own Persona. There is one slight exception to this, which is right at the beginning of the game...sort of. When you begin the game, you are given the objective to visit a hospital to check up on a school friend. You don't have to do that straight away, as you can wander around St. Hermelin High School to talk to classmates and explore the fictional town of Mikage-cho, which does some pretty nice world-building before shit hits the fan. Whereas a lot of the soundtrack are redone/remastered versions of the PS1's original soundtrack, 'School Days' (that plays at the beginning sections of the game) is found only on the PSP version. Whilst Persona 1 is very different from the more popular Persona games, this bouncy little J-Pop song has a wonderful sense of nostalgia to it, which I am putting down to the use of the Major 7ths, a sound I have always associated with sunsets (or sunrises, depending on what mode I'm in). The inclusion of a song (a love song at that may I add) like this drags Persona into the same sonic sound as later games, thus bringing it into the same world as later games. As odd as this may sound, longterm Persona players will know what I mean. If your one of the 10 people who own a PS Vita, you can download Persona, as well as both instalments of Persona 2, usually at a very cheap price.
  7. Today is a Tuesday 3rd September, so there is only one song I could talk about for this weeks #TuneTuesday. That, of course, is 'Papa Was A Rollin' Stone' by The Temptations (I do talk about 'normal music' sometimes you know!). Not many people know this, but The Temptations version is a cover version. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1971, and released as a single in May 1972 for the Motown act The Undisputed Truth. Later that year, Whitfield, who also produced the song, took it and remade it as a 12-minute record for The Temptations, which was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and won three Grammy Awards the following year. It has since become a Soul classic, for good reason. It's a fucking good tune! On a production and arrangement level, it is fantastic. A solo plucked bass guitar part that does not change for the whole song, establishes the moody yet serious he musical theme, a simple three-note figure, letting the listener know we are going to be Bb minor. This is backed by hi-hat cymbal, which are gradually joined by other instruments, including a blues guitar, wah-wah guitar, Wurlitzer electric piano, handclaps, strings and solo trumpet; all are tied together by the ever-present bass guitar line and repeating hi-hat rhythm.And of course, the fantastic vocals of The Temptations themselves. There are also several trumpet solos with a stupid amount of reverb and delay for such an instrument. A brilliantly brave move! This song represents many things on a social level. The sound of Motown was changing. Gone was the previous happy-clappy sound of the 50s and 60s. Now in the 70s, Motown adopted a more serious, hard-hitting sound funk sound to reflect the more serious and depressing events that were happening in Detroit at the time, mostly race riots and a shit tonne of racism. This song was one of the first in a whole line of 'cinematic soul' songs during the late-70s, where soul records would just go one forever, with the arrangements would build and drop, allowing the music to tell a story. Think any Issac Haye song for example. So go ahead and listen to this song, and if you dare skip the 4min intro, then you might as well skip the song, you weirdo!
  8. Hello, my fellow Ember Members! I hope you are doing well wherever you all are. For those of you who are unaware, my name is Jack Le Breton. I am a composer, most known for composing some of the music for the award-winning, BAFTA-nominated game 'Two Point Hospital', which was released 31st August 2018. I also did the music for an indie game 'Hartacon Tactics' which released 1st January 2019. Hopefully, I can add more to this soon! But I digress. If you follow me on Twitter, you may be aware that every Tuesday, I discuss in great length about a piece of music that I like, be it for an anime, film, TV show or, most usually, a video game. 'Why do I do this?' you may ask yourself. As a composer and a creative individual, I think it is often very easy for those who are neither of these to not appreciate the thought processes behind these things. I don't think this is deliberate, but I do think this should change, hence the creation of #TuneTuesday So, I wish to bring my celebrated weekly dose of music here, where I am not restricted by Twitter's character restrictions. To get you started, you can find the vast majority of my #TuneTuesday moments on my Twitter. The ones you won't find are 'The Path of Wind' from 'My Neighbour Totoro' and 'Insane Family' from 'Vampyr' as Twitter's new look has prevented me from any more to a year's worth of moments. Thanks, Twitter I hope you will all enjoy my weekly info dump on music and have fun learning and appreciating some good ol' music.
  9. WolvesEthereal

    Moooosic!

    So you want to display your favourite song on your Ember profile? Simply head to Spotify and find your favourite track: Click the "..." to the right of the track, head down to "share" and finally "copy song link" Head over to your Ember profile and onto your "About" tab, click the cog just above your long bio and scroll right down to the bottom - there you will find a field called "Favourite Track" - simply paste your Spotify link in there! Make sure your Spotify link follows this format (https://open.spotify.com/track/TRACKID) - Click "Save" And that's it! If you are not logged into Spotify, songs will display short previews; Log in to Spotify to make sure you can make the most out of this feature!
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