|Posted by Chris Crooks on November 4, 2014 at 7:25 PM||comments (0)|
Until and unless it turns out that Blue Mage is actually Blue Mage(TM), a trademark of Squaresoft, I (Chris Crooks) have long wanted to use Blue Mage as my composer name because it represents what I attempt to do, or can't help but do, or pretend to do as a music composer.
In many Final Fantasy games, a character with the class or abilities of a Blue Mage could learn skills from different monsters by getting attacked by them. Thereafter, you could use the ability of the monster whenever you wanted, although quite often in a form much less mighty than the original.
This is a perfect analogy for me. I have listened to hundreds of game soundtracks sometimes dozens of times, and have all sorts of different things I like about the many many composers that I have heard over the years, and have attempted to imitate what I like about them in an attempt to make music that makes me feel similarly. Unsurprisingly, this wide exposure has had a large impact on the way that I write music and I have learned to hear the influence of many different composers when I analyze something that I have written. It hasn't been a conscious procedure...yet. I'm hoping that I might be able to actually formally create these lovely melanges of style that represent what I consider to be the premier art format of post-post-modernism: the pastiche, or collage.
So many musical trails have been so thoroughly blazed in so many directions that I stand not as an explorer on the edge of an unknown frontier, but rather as a bookish librarian overwhelmed by volumes of excellent work coming in from all sides, and my task is not to create something "original" in some grand sense, but pick out the bits and pieces that resonate with me and put them together into something that I enjoy, or at least fits in with some scene or mood in a game that I'm making. I almost feel that my role is part historical, and part critical, even though I should probably be primarily concerned with simply writing some music.
In other words, I'm spoiled for choice: either the Muse sings so loudly through the ten of thousands of hours of fantastic game music that the inspiration of local Muses is patently unnecessary, or perhaps I have found something that has replaced her, for better or worse, in
case my inner ear has been inured somewhat to her quiet voice.
I suppose the only difficulty I run into when presenting myself in this style is the risk of unintentional plagiarism. After all, I can't always remember whether
some riff I came up with was used by somebody before - the chances are fairly good it has been even if I "came up with it off the top of my head." And of course, I'm not here to present anyone's work as my own - I respect everyone who has influenced me too much to do something
so unworthy. Furthermore, the community is highly sensitive to such things and public censure would outpace any sort of legal action by an order of magnitude.
Rather, as I said before, I want to present to you a nostalgic patchwork, old nuances and motives woven together in novel ways, in a deliberate attempt to connect to what made the original music so great while presenting new material. I want to be a musical Blue Mage - wielding the styles of many but using them in fun combinations and adding a few innovative tweaks whenever I can manage.
If it wasn't for all of the amazing video game composers that I've heard over the decades, I sincerely doubt I would be a music composer and I may not even have had the patience to stick it out as a pianist if I hadn't spent all that time arranging my favorite SquareSoft songs on piano. Who can say? As far as these composers are concerned, they did all the work for this
soundtrack. Ultimately, they should get the credit. AllI did was bliss out on wonderful music for most of my life.
Here’s my first pass at the top 3 composers who inspired for each of the two preview tracks I posted. Some of them are more obvious than others. This is probably useless for most people but thankfully having an online community such as ours means there are other fanatics like me who are intensely interested in such things.
Yuzo Koshiro (Legacy of the Wizard)
Hitoshi Sakamoto (Final Fantasy Tactics)
Motonaki Takenouchi (Shining Force 2)
Hideaki Kobayashi (Phantasy Star Online)
Hideki Naganuma (Sonic Rush)
Motoi Sakuraba (Valkyrie Profile)
My hope is this list is not pointless vanity (truthfully, I wish I could be a third as good as any of these composers) nor some sort of brash challenge for someone to scour the material ruthlessly for these elements, though I would be delighted if anyone with a similar familiarity with these composers cared to support or refute my delusions. In some cases a composer influenced my instrumentation, in others the melody, in others rhythmic or harmonic elements. Keep in mind that these are unfinished works in progress and I may tweak them greatly, slightly, or not at all depending on a variety of factors including your feedback.
Thank you, and please enjoy. Comments, criticisms, outright accusations, you know how to reach me. And if you don't - crack the case, Sherlock!
|Posted by Chris Crooks on September 18, 2014 at 5:30 PM||comments (0)|
I’ve made a start on a somewhat involved podcast series called Composer Musings. I’ve long wanted to do a sort of critique of/homage to all the game music I’ve listened to over the years, and a rambling podcast with audio clips spliced in is undoubtedly the best format with which to accomplish this. This series will include overviews of various game systems’ composers, focused sessions on specific composers, companies, or game series, and a bit about my own process of writing music for games and some piano arrangements of music that I’m working on. I may have some music-oriented guests depending on community interest, but we could also have these sorts of music podcasts fall under the umbrella of the usual RogueSpeak and get some 3-4 person conversations going.
My first effort took a bit of time to put together, but it provides a fun little trip down memory lane for gamers my age and a nice little survey of some really excellent Sega Genesis music. I will almost certainly do at least one feature on NES, PSX, and SNES, and almost certainly a good handful devoted entirely to SquareSoft games.
I hope you enjoy it. It was a lot of fun to make.
You can download the MP3 or listen to it through our dropbox using the link below: