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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Music for Sprout with Forte Sounds

Game music is important. Like, really, really important. Getting the music right for a game can absolutely make or break an experience. I'm going to rattle off a couple of games and I want you to think of the music for them just so you can appreciate just how much music is tied to the experience.

  • Zelda
  • Mario
  • Halo

As many of you may already know, the music for Sprout's Tale is being done by a company called Forte Sounds based out of the UK. This is a company that has done work for Cartoon Network, BBC, did some sounds for Civ V, and various ads and games. And yet, despite a resume (CV for you easterners), that would make most green with jealousy, Forte Sounds was willing to come down to use little guys at Decade Design and work on Sprout.

While I may be using the word company here, that doesn't really do it justice. I work closely with the company owner, AJ Lorne, who does his best to meet my ridiculous demands. He's incredibly patient with my poorly written requests, and they are very poor. And, if I might be so bold, we've become fast friends in our time working together.

For example, the first request I made was essentially described as something "light" with touches of melancholy.

That is about as ambiguous a description as one can hope to find. What he came back with however, was what you hear in the following video:



He did exactly what I asked. A menacing, melancholy tone that lifts suddenly into something triumphant and bright. But unfortunately, what I asked for and what I needed were not exactly the same thing. In this case, I was worried that having a piece like this repeat throughout the game would dull a person to the shift from sad to happy and might lessen the impact of more emotional moments in the game. What I needed was something that was both open and bright and dark and aggressive. So we talked some more and played around with different instruments.

Here's what came next:


"At last!" I thought, on my first listen, "The perfect mix of mood and melody!"

Yes indeed, this one I was ridiculously happy with. I won't go into detail about it, but you should listen if you haven't already. I really think he nailed it. I mean, ultimately I had him kick up the drum sounds a bit more in the chorus and make the singing lady a little more clear, but the fact was that it fit like a glove.

So what was next? I now had a piece with the emotional lift I was looking for and a piece just for general early "before-the-darkness" gameplay. What about the darkness?

Well... This one we don't yet have a video for, but I have to say that it is, so far, my favorite:


Oh, man. So dark. Aptly named "Lunatic Waltz" this actually gave me shivers on my first listen. I didn't touch it with remarks- I think it was perfect from the get-go. I hope you'll agree.

The last one (so far) is The Wilderness. This one's our ambient piece and will largely be used as "filler" for moments that suit no other music. Have a listen- like the rest, it's stupidly fantastic.



I honestly couldn't be happier with what's been done so far both in terms of music and sound effects. If any of you are gamedevs or film makers or people planning some kind of really weird wedding or something and you are looking for a talented team to take on your music I honestly can't recommend Forte Sounds more. Email fortesoundsltd@gmail.com and talk to AJ.