Why isn't the 3DS version announced? Oh well, it'll probably be sucky like Thor and Green Lantern anyway... great music though. Bill Brown... catchy name.
Come listen to some music from Super Soldier and read what composer Bill Brown has to say about video game music.
Many composers get their feet wet with film and television before exploring the world of video game music, but Bill Brown's career began with a few games you might have heard of, such as Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon. His latest video game project is Captain America: Super Soldier, which comes out July 19. Spread out in the interview below are a few music samples from the game, so have a listen and let us know what you think! Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter @gs_soundbyte for a chance to win a copy of the game on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo DS! For more music from Captain America and other video game tunes, be sure to listen to Sound Byte Radio.
GameSpot: What is your musical background?
Bill Brown: I wrote a lot of music growing up, through high school, and then went to Berklee College of Music in Boston and graduated with a degree in film scoring. The Berklee education was key because (1) I made friends who helped me in my career later and (2) It gave me a starter set of tools I needed to meet the opportunities I've been given. Since then, my education has been my own. I strive to continue to stretch and learn and grow with every cue I write. I noticed that after doing that for 15 years, I've gotten better at what I do.
GS: What was the first instrument that you picked up?
GS: Is there an instrument you wish you knew how to play?
BB: I'd like to spend more time playing classical and jazz guitar, actually; but I'm constantly writing using the piano instead. GuitarViol is something I'm focusing on recently as well. It's more complex trying to use the bow and play guitar chords at the same time. It's great to pick up new instruments because your fingers can't go where they are used to going all the time. Good for finding fresh sounds and melodic ideas.
GS: What is your fondest memory when it comes to music?
BB: Listening to Jerry Goldsmith's music in the theater years ago. I remember watching The River Wild and just being in this euphoria about how incredible the score sounded in the theatre at the time. I fell in love with the orchestra because of those incredible composers and the wonderful musicians that performed those scores. Those performances have a soul of their own. The way John Williams, John Barry, JNH, or Tom Newman, etc., etc., shape their music on the stage. They and so many other composers have brought me such a depth of joy that it's difficult to even understand completely myself. I think that's why I go into the studio every day and keep striving and pushing myself. So I can be closer to that experience of film music I fell in love with all those years ago. Sometimes I'm able to rekindle that excitement…quite often actually. And that is a huge gift.
GS: How did you get into making music for video games?
BB: After graduating with a degree in film scoring from Berklee College of Music in 1991, I interned for a couple years in New York, worked in a music store in New Jersey, and then finally moved to Los Angeles in 1994 after being offered a job as a sound editor. After two years, a friend introduced me to Scott Gershin over at Soundelux. Scott was just creating a music division there and hired me to help. Early on, while we were still in temporary offices there, I did a demo for a DreamWorks Interactive PC game called Trespasser: The Lost World and then another demo for a new game called Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six. Both demos were hits with the developers, and I was on my way. I was in the right place at the right time with those projects. I worked really hard for years on a lot of AAA titles and had a lot of fun creating all of that music. I had no idea I'd be writing music for games before I wrote those first demos! And luckily for me, the different groups at Soundelux were working on feature films and commercials as well, which helped open doors for me into scoring for television. Now, I'm working on more films and looking forward to bigger and better opportunities with every project I'm fortunate enough to work on, including writing more music for games.
GS: How is composing for games different from composing for film or television? What do you like or dislike?
BB: The important thing to remember with scoring games is that players are steering it, and they might live with the score for longer periods of time as compared to film or television, so you have to create the score accordingly. Sometimes it's reactive down to the most minute detail, and sometimes you are covering a wide range of events with one piece. That makes it an interesting challenge musically. I've always believed the music has to have a soul regardless. It needs to be connected thematically/texturally, and then it needs to support the action in whatever shape it takes.
GS: What is your process when composing a particular track for a game? What do you have access to in terms of materials to go off of?
BB: It's all about collaboration. And sometimes, that collaboration is as simple as, "Hey Bill, check out this movie (or art, game alpha, etc.)…do your thing, man…we have about five weeks." And then, together we'll agree on a direction musically speaking that fits. I'm grateful that I have already established trust in so many of my director/producer relationships at this point in my career. That trust is really key in bringing myself creatively to the project.
GS: Tell us about the music of Captain America: Super Soldier. What kind of research went into coming up with the right tone and mood for the game and what was your process in creating it?
BB: We started this project over a year ago in May of 2010. Next Level Games (the developer) sent me some preliminary artwork back in 2009--storyboards and that sort of thing--and I started thinking about the palette and tone of the score. They had temped the first demo levels with my score from Wolfenstein (2008), as there were similarities in the location and WW2 era, and it was working well, but it was missing that aspect of the score that needed to support Captain America. I also wanted to bring more of a thematic/motif-based structure to this game where Wolfenstein was more of an atmospheric score.
In June of 2010, I traveled from Los Angeles to Vancouver, Canada, (a really beautiful city by the way) and had the pleasure of meeting the entire staff at Next Level Games. That trip reminded me…actually this whole project reminded me how much fun games can be to work on. I could go on for an hour about how great the people at Next Level are, but let me just say I consider them great friends and am so grateful for how welcoming and enthusiastic they were about the music through the entire process. We had a lot of fun with this project. During that visit, the team took me through the game and their creative vision of it. As they described the levels and the narrative and showed the flow of the game with visuals, I started to come up with some completely new thoughts and ideas for the score right on the spot. I had this idea about how the orchestration would mirror the player's perspective in the game. Where the player is first introduced to a recognizable old castle environment, the orchestration would be more pure, and as the out-of-place futuristic and organic odd science is slowly revealed, the orchestration would become more dissonant and experimental, and more synthetic/ambient textures and percussion would be introduced.
I wrote notes during the meeting and took a photo of them as I was writing them…
(Just as a side note, I had this idea that the character Madame Hydra might be represented with a dark, 20th century influenced waltz. As it turned out, that idea influenced the entire score as I ended up writing many of the cues in 3/4, 6/8, and so on, including the initial cue I composed "Above Ground Battle.") This was just the beginning. The next idea that came up for me after we agreed on this general orchestration direction was the larger idea of splitting the score into blocks of motivic/thematic material. The idea was that for action cues (which comprise over one-third of the score), I would create individual motifs for all of the characters, and as the characters were spawned into the environment, their motif would begin to show up in the score reactively. I'm sure this isn't a new concept, but I hadn't really gone into this level of detail with a game project up to this point, and I knew it was going to be a lot to keep track of, but it was so exciting…this idea of the counterpoint of characters going back and forth reactively to the gameplay was too exciting to pass up!
this interview is way better than that last one with the final fantasy dissidia arranger. though i've never heard of him till now, i've played some games that he has worked on and loved the music. good to read an interview with someone who knows what they're talking about musically, even bringing in a picture of his notes is fantastic! hope that gamespot does more interviews like this, especially since i'm studying to do music in games myself it's nice to see what's going on in the work field
Bill Brown also composed the music for C&C Generals, with Western, Far Eastern, and MIddle Eastern themes, it was an amazing soundtrack. Love this guys work! =)