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Music Interactivity In Hearthstone! – Part 1

Music Interactivity In Hearthstone! – Part 1

All right let’s talk about Hearthstone! This is one of my favorite games currently, and I could rant about it for a VERY long time. There are so many cards, characters, and types of decks… but today I’m going to talk about the music interactivity! As you may know, Hearthstone is Blizzard’s card game based off of the Warcraft lore. Every card and character ties back into the lore somehow, tying all of the Blizzard games together. However, the music is done by Peter McConnell, a composer not part of Blizzard’s in house audio team. He’s best known for his work on Broken Age, Psychonauts, and Sly Cooper, and his Hearthstone music is great too!   “Come on in! It’s cold out there.” So back to Hearthstone itself. I launch the game, and am welcomed into an inn/pub by a cheery dwarf who tells all his friends to make “some room by the hearth would ya?” As this opening dialogue takes place, the menu music enters simultaneously. This is the first piece of music we hear, and it beautifully draws you into the inn/pub atmosphere with acoustic guitars, solo violin, and various hand percussion. This music is only heard at the main menu, and doesn’t loop right away. (In fact, none of the music in Hearthstone loops! All of it has natural endings and waits a set amount of time before the next piece enters.) After it finishes, you hear crowd sound effects to create the illusion of active pub, and then maybe 15-30 seconds later; the main menu theme starts all over again. While this is a great...
Interstellar: What to Listen For as You Watch

Interstellar: What to Listen For as You Watch

My friends and I went to an early screening of Interstellar a couple days ago and saw it in 70mm film and IMAX. I went into the film with very little knowledge of the plot, score, or really any idea of what I was getting myself into, other than it would be about SPACE. So let’s talk about the sound. I had read a few articles saying that the sound mix for Interstellar had possibly ruined the film. Critics are saying that dialogue was hard to hear at points, and that it took them out of the film. And that’s all I knew as I went to see Interstellar. I actually really enjoyed the sound and music to Interstellar. This is easily my favorite Hans Zimmer score (although Gladiator is another favorite. Check that out here!) and the sound team made some very interesting choices that worked really well in the film, and differ from a lot of sci-fi films being released today. Space is actually silent! Sound first. The dynamic range of this film is huge. Interstellar is one of the few films that choose to make space truly silent. There is a sequence where it cuts from inside the spaceship, to back outside the ship as they launch probes. The sound goes from a gentle ambience, dialogue, and the flicking of switches, to complete silence. You could hear everyone in the theatre for a few seconds, which is so rare in films today. On the other end of the spectrum, the amount of low end that they managed to fit into the mix is amazing. Maybe IMAX...
Creating Frank Underwood In Music

Creating Frank Underwood In Music

I started watching House of Cards this past Spring (right as Season 2 came out) and instantly fell in love with the music, especially the main theme. It weaves together an ensemble of strings, brass, guitar, bass, and piano to capture all of the elements of the main character, Frank Underwood. For this article, I’m going to be talking about the theme from Season 1, which you can listen to here!  Jeff Beal is the composer for the House of Cards series. He’s a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, and has worked on other shows such as Monk and In Plain Sight. His work on House of Cards is amazing and I highly recommend you pick up the soundtrack and check out more of his music! If you haven’t watched the show, House of Cards follows Congressman Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his wife Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) and their ruthless rise to power as they exact revenge over the administration that betrayed them. Think of The West Wing and Game of Thrones tossed together into one.  Frank Underwood: The Shark So why is this theme so awesome? To answer that, let’s look at the lead role of the show, Frank Underwood. One of the reasons the show is successful is because the characters have a lot of depth. The audience can’t typecast Frank or Claire into the typical roles of hero, heroine, or villain, making it much more fascinating to watch. This depth allows the music to have subtlety, encompassing many aspects of the characters at once. Frank is ruthless and driven, determined to do what he...