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Fast Work - At Your Service


Author Comments

I have a very vivid memory of playing Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl in the wild territory and hearing a ping from discord. I'm asked to join a meeting with the game dev team since they just got out of a meeting wtih their professor. We talk for a bit about the music and how the professor said that it didn't quite feel right for the game since it's like a Diner Dash kinda game involving tasks and a timer. I've said before that I was thinking that the music would be a lot slower and more mellow since there's a bit of a "sad" undertone about working abroad. The professor said that it needed to be a lot more fast paced to really give a sense of urgency gameplay wise.

I was a bit sad to hear that since I really like most of the tracks I've made for the game so I said I would make a new song. Shortly after that meeting I get a message from one of the members and they tell me that they forgot to mention that the deadline was on a sunday... I look at the calendar and it was saturday that day. Immediately I just enter a state of panic I haven't felt since I've graduated from school and I'm not even graded on this. Ironically I also just recovered from catching covid so I was still a bit weird form the sickness. Quite the day.

For me writing music tends to be a very rocky ride. Sometimes I can shit something out decently and tweak it over a few days or I spend days even getting the first few notes down. I have my own ways of dealing with both situations for when it happens but for this one I had less than a day to even finish it. I close everything that I was doing and I just sit and stare at my DAW. SO IT BEGINS.

My first thought when composing this is "How do I capture the essence of a timer while also keeping with the theme of the game?" My brain goes straight to the drums playing double time and having something syncopated on top of it.

I start charting out the first few chords GM > Bm > CM > D7. A side effect of this is that the bass is playing the root of each chord going up and building tension which I ended up really liking. Since the drums is in double time I needed to give it room to breathe so the bass is playing infrequently which isn't usually my style since I love the sound of the bass. All of a sudden I an intro... but how do I even build up from here?

I need a strong A section and by using what I've established from the intro I've more or less copied the "style" and put it over new chords that kind-of fit the theme of the game. We have GM > Bm/F# > Bdim/F > Em > EbM > GM/D > C#m7-5 > CM > D7. A bunch of chords that look funky at a glance but the bass is decending and ending in a ii > V to loop it back. I don't want to get into music theory but if you give your listener something to anchor on like this decending bass you can kind-of get away with almost anything (within reason). A mix of "modal interchange" chords or whatever and you got yourself a pretty nice sounding chord progression.

Now that I have a decent skeleton for an A section it's time to write a melody. Because I'm lacking time this isn't the time to do anything out of the ordinary for the melody so I just stuck with my typical trumpet since I really like that brass sound and it just so happens to fit juust right. Since the other instruments are going a bit ham I thought to myself to have a calmer melody. I started slamming my keyboard and I came up with long whole notes and occasional quarters. When you're writing a melody for a whack chord progression I personally find that it adds a lot to the music when you purposfully aim for your off key notes. It adds a lot of color to the melody and makes it stand out.

At this point I'm thinking to myself that "hey this is starting to click together". I've got an intro and an A section but how do I develop it further? It's been about an hour or two of twiddling things and I decide to pull out my most used trick. I just gotta steal the B section of the main theme and say that I'm smart.

I'm not going to explain writing the B section since I've done it in the actual main theme labeled Calm Work on here so just read that if you're interested. It's strangely perfect since in there the B section is also a walk down with the bass so it just pieces together so fine. I wanted to steal the background arpeggio idea and put it here just to really emphasize it's the same melody just to tie it together and I did. The guitar isn't playing full syncopated chords and the texture of the B section changes dramatically. Because I changed to arpeggios though I had the problem of looping the song after the B section so I quickly changed it back to syncopated chords at the end to smooth it out.

Now I've got a more or less complete song but it needs something extra. With the current 4 instruments of a trumpet, guitar, bass and drums it sounds rather plain especially with the A section repeat. I go back to the start and see what I can do to spice things up.

First thing I do is add a trombone under the melody just to support it a bit and to add development on the A section repeat. In the B section I just make the trombone double the root of the chord to emphasize the walk down again. Even with this it's still missing something and I wasn't sure what. Since the texture of the trumpet and trombone repeat in the B section I really wanted to add something else. I don't remember why but I have a vibraphone doubling the trumpet melody to add a bit more flavor to it since that's the "climax" of the song. Subtle but it works.

The song is more or less done but I still felt like I wanted to add something. Usually it's a bad idea since I'm pressed for time (which in hindsight wasn't really an issue with how fast I was making this) but I really wanted to add something just to make it pop more. I was looking through my plugin and noticed that there was a tubular bell option that I just never really bothered to use and I decided to try it out.

When I was studying, the tubular bells weren't really discussed so I don't really know how you use it but based from common sense it's just a bunch of bells in the shape of a piano sooooooo. I gave it a role of a somewhat counter melody to the trumpet. All of a sudden I just fell in love with this piece that I've made. I don't know why but adding those tubular bells puts this from like an 8.5 to a 10 in my heart. It's such a minor addition but I just lose it every time hahaha.

After a bit of mixing and tweaking I've finished the last song and probably the most important song of the game within 4 hours. It genuinely felt like my brain expanded as I was writing this and I uploaded it and just blanked out for the rest of the day.

Isn't that strange? For most of the songs I've written during this past year I've been so miserable and negative but all of a sudden I can actually like my creations 100%? That's craaazy. Right now it feels like I've gotten through a big barrier in my brain in really appreciateing my output a lot. I know for a fact that this is a song where I'll look at it and go "Did I make that? What the hell???"

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Credits & Info


Waiting for 4 more votes

Aug 5, 2021
11:03 PM EDT
Video Game
File Info
3.1 MB
2 min 15 sec
  • FL Studio

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