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Thread: Music

  1. #1
    Taking a break
    Registered: Dec 2002

    Music

    I keep reading how epic and awesome Skyrim's music is on the official forums, which puzzles me greatly because it sounds like normal "banal shit boring" Soule goo to me.

    Of course since it's the official forums there's very high likehood of fanboys being retarded as usual, so I'll thought I'll ask about general opinion here.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2000
    Location: Lootahville, Kenyahee
    Personally I loved Dead Red Redemption music, especially for the zombie version. As for Skyrim, I didn't really think it was something to write home about, but I guess they are running out things to praise.

    Kreeps - Bad Voodoo
    http://youtu.be/h-08KZo4KXM

    I have to admit that Bard songs are a nice touch. I feel sorry for each of the voice actors. I know how much of a pain in the ass it was to get my voice actors to do a full AI script. I can't imagine me trying to make them sing. However, having an almost identical script would make things easier...

    "Some people call this junk, I call them treasures..."

  3. #3
    Administrator
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: above the clouds
    It probably comes down to taste. I would personally say someone who calls Jeremy Soule's music dull isn't actually listening properly, as Skyrim's music is probably the best of his I've heard. It's fair enough if you don't like that type of music, but I'd say dismissing it shows a lack of musical perception. Also quite a bit of it is fairly ambient in character and not intended to be too distracting during play. If you pay attention to it there is quite a lot to appreciate.

    Well I guess it seems that way to me as I'm quite interested in musical composition and I've listened to rather a lot of orchestral music...

    I think the trouble with Morrowind and Oblivion was that there just wasn't quite enough music there for a game that would involve hundreds of hours of playing time, but the Skyrim music has about four times as much compared to Oblivion. However, it would have been sensible to produce more of the short battle music cuts because there are only a handful of those and the repetition is a bit more obvious.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2005
    Location: Not Kansas
    I thought the music of Skyrim was exceptional; especially the way Soule blended the Oblivion theme into Skyrim's main theme. When I listen to different selections from the soundtrack I can almost see the sun rising over the Velothi Mountains, or hear the whisper of the eagles wings as they fly over Solitude, or watch in my mind's eye the water flowing from the mountain waterfalls down through the canals of Markarth. I agree with scumble that a fair amount is meant to be ambient, but there are selections that almost tell a tale on their own. So no, I definitely don't agree that this music is 'normal "banal shit boring" Soule goo'; not in the least. Just because you don't like something doesn't mean it's not good.

    As always, it depends on an individual's tastes.
    Last edited by Dia; 11th Jan 2012 at 17:39.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: not anymore :(
    I find Jeremy Soule has been overusing his themes since Morrowind, and losing in originality what he gained in professionalism. My favourite soundtrack of his remains Total Annihilation, even if it shows youthful mistakes in the detail of the compositions.

    Skyrim's music is undeniably bolder than Oblivion's but it's still mostly made of (flawlessly composed/arranged - mostly) Morrowind rehashes and generic atmospheric layers. I feel the vocal parts are too few and too similar to really make a difference. Still, there are a few specific tracks which I really like a lot. Once I manage to find the whole soundtrack somewhere I'll get the titles.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: May 2009
    Yeah I think there are a few really great songs that fit the game really well, like the one with the woman singing, and a few of the ambient ones. And I love the music in the inns- not the bard songs so much, mostly because the bards don't sing them very well, but the plunking guitar music in the background. Then there are some utterly generic pieces of trash that make me want to throw myself on my sword, like that one that plays in Whiterun, you know, with the noodling flute that can't make up its mind where it's going. In addition, all of the combat and dungeon music is entirely forgettable which is a real shame.

    I use a mod that increases the amount of the music. The guy just added some different songs onto the end of the current songs, from movies and whatnot. It's a little weird hearing a song from gladiator when playing skyrim but I was getting tired of the same old music.

    Quote Originally Posted by Briareos H
    My favourite soundtrack of his remains Total Annihilation
    Hell yeah! So many amazing tracks on that soundtrack.

  7. #7
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J14-V_sTsHs

    Admittedly, the rest of the score isn't all that much to get excited about, but this track is beautifully executed.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2005
    Location: Not Kansas
    Wow! How did I manage to miss that one? Excellent! Thanks for sharing wonderfield.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2000
    Location: Lootahville, Kenyahee
    Don't get me wrong. I like Skyrim's music in reference to the genre. I doubt I would ever listen to any of the music outside of Skyrim, however, I might listen to the Bard songs out of amusement. Its more like old Folk songs. I wouldn't go driving down the street, cracked up loud with windows rolled down. I mean, any video game music gets 4+ stars in my book, when I don't need to mute it out, or have to play other music on top of it.

    If they really wanted to push the music they could have included the soundtrack with the Collector's Edition instead of the Making of Skyrim DVD. I know my daughter loves the music. I've bought three copies, Collector's Ed (Xbox) for the dragon and book, a copy (Xbox) for my daughter, and the PC version for shit and giggles.

  10. #10
    Administrator
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: above the clouds
    Quote Originally Posted by Dia View Post
    Wow! How did I manage to miss that one? Excellent! Thanks for sharing wonderfield.
    That piece usually plays when a dragon turns up Dia. It's the only one in septuple meter - probably 7/8. Gives it a bit of a lurching quality. It was also used on the live action Skyrim advert you can watch on the Skyrim official site.

    Since people have uploaded the entire soundtrack on youtube, I can point out a few highlights from my point of view...

    There is one called Journey's End that stood out for me, because it has this mournful, sad quality. One of the more beautiful pieces.

    Also moody, but appropriate when it's snowing and you're wandering in the mountains. Standing Stones has some more choral work - I think the use of real voices adds quite an important aspect in terms of variation.

    Quote Originally Posted by smallfry
    the plunking guitar music in the background
    I tend to like this one - A Winter's Tale. I'm pretty sure it's a real band of musicians, as some of the other guitar music is obviously produced from sampled instruments.

    combat and dungeon music is entirely forgettable
    Again, I think this is down to not listening carefully. Silent Footsteps is one of the better ones.

    Also Beneath the Ice, which usually plays in Darkreach, fits in very well as an atmospheric piece. It's almost trippy while walking around a huge cavern filled with giant glowing mushrooms.

    Frostfall has some good Cello work.

    Secunda is also one that I like.

    The playlist I've referenced is a good one for finding out what the pieces are called.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Apr 1999
    Location: Austria, Europe, Earth, Sol
    I thought about why I'm not that enthusiastic about the music in Skyrim (doesn't mean I don't like it) while I would rate the music from DeusEx:HR way higher *).

    Turns out, what I'm missing most probably in Skyrim is dynamic music - specifically: 'vertical' dynamic music (also called layered music). We have the horizontal variant: Play music tracks according to rough game state (city, dungeon, combat), but they're fixed pieces.
    Fixed pieces, as ambient and non-intrusive they are, do get repetitive after a longer time of playing. Layered music adds more randomness and might also allow for less ambience-only.

    My take on it.

    *) Entering The Hive from the sewers the sneaky way was my best musical experience in games so far.

  12. #12
    Taking a break
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Quote Originally Posted by scumble View Post
    It probably comes down to taste. I would personally say someone who calls Jeremy Soule's music dull isn't actually listening properly, as Skyrim's music is probably the best of his I've heard. It's fair enough if you don't like that type of music, but I'd say dismissing it shows a lack of musical perception. Also quite a bit of it is fairly ambient in character and not intended to be too distracting during play. If you pay attention to it there is quite a lot to appreciate.
    This isn't thiefgen, you can just call me a half-deaf philistine you know.

    Maybe you can appreciate it outside the game, but in the game you can't and that's what matters.

    Most of it is overly melodramatic and epic, like Wind Guide You, which might be nice when you're standing on top of a mountain looking at the vistas but not so much when you're walking over a fucking bridge. Sorry, but that's supposed to be ambient music, in the background, not something out of credits of a movie. It's also full orchestra and chorus, which makes it very demanding attention-wise and the volume needs to be up to hear and appreciate all the instruments - which of course goes completely against the idea of ambient in the first place.

    Also, the instruments themselves are wrong. This is supposed to essentially be a game about vikings, and what we get? Strings? Seriously? Even the chorus is out of place, at the very least it should be all male with strong lead. Not that sometimes making music "out of place" can't work but here it just doesn't. This isn't some deliberate attempt to make a contrast, like Ruskay did with Homeworld. It's just Soule writing wrong music for a wrong kind of game to be played at the wrong time. I guess Beth has lot to answer for here too but whatever.

    The combat music is indeed entirely forgettable, with only One They Fear standing out(Watch the Skies is literally 20 second chorus piece on repeat).

    Also, am I the only one who thinks there's not enough variation? Every main city should have its own theme and so should every biome and dungeon type and they shouldn't mix. Which simply isn't the case, I think only Whiterun has its own track.

    All in all, I think I'll be playing the second time with music off. Or maybe someone will make a mod so that it plays only during fights with dragons, that would work too.

  13. #13
    Administrator
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: above the clouds
    Actually, you're a grumpy, half-deaf philistine.

    However, I can see your point of view to a certain extent. Still there is a strong element of male chorus that generally outweighs the female.

    I think you are also on solid ground with the lack of variation element, but it would be partly down to the fact that producing enough music to vary over hundreds of hours of play isn't really possible without an army of composers. At least Bethesda have made it possible to mod these things, as I can think of quite a number of other pieces that might work in there for me at least.

    It would have been good to have more location-specific music - I think only Whiterun and Solitude have named pieces, but on the other hand, I think locations having the same music all the time would get old in another way.

    There are periods when no music plays, and JS also produced nearly an hour of atmospheres which are a lot more subtle. I don't mind a bit of orchestral music there when I'm just wandering, even if one is crossing a bridge. I guess it would have helped to have a "music density" setting that would play things less often perhaps, or allow you to select atmospheres over straight pieces.

    There have been moments when the music fortuitously seemed to be playing the right bit for the context, usually when listening to a bit of dialogue. Ideally one would want music to be more tightly bound to the context, but I think the sheer number of locations and things that are dynamically generated makes this a bit of a thorny problem.

    I can only think that the solution is real-time generated music, but that does need a lot of overhead to produce something of the required quality, or the elements are quite minimal and mixed together dynamically, which is what Firefreak probably suggested with 'vertical' music.

    Perhaps I think back to the way sound was done by Eric Brosius in Thief. Musical elements were short and triggered by walking into a particular room, or if continuous they were very minimal. There is something like that going on in Skyrim, but not enough variation. There's the "discovered a location" music and the "dragon soul absorbed" music but not a lot else. There is a "dungeon cleared" thing as well, but nothing else seems to come to mind.

  14. #14
    Taking a break
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Quote Originally Posted by scumble View Post
    There are periods when no music plays
    Yeah, like Marthal. First time I got to it I was like, "why is this place so awesome?" And then I realized oh right. No music, just swamps.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Apr 1999
    Location: Austria, Europe, Earth, Sol
    Quote Originally Posted by scumble View Post
    I can only think that the solution is real-time generated music, but that does need a lot of overhead to produce something of the required quality, or the elements are quite minimal and mixed together dynamically, which is what Firefreak probably suggested with 'vertical' music.
    ...yup -- sorry, I just realized I didn't elaborate more on what I meant in my post.

    Quote Originally Posted by wikipedia
    Horizontal re-sequencing is the method by which pre-composed segments of music can be re-shuffled according to a player’s choice of where they go in a storyline or environment. Vertical re-orchestration is the technique of changing the mix of separate parts of an ongoing loop of music in relation to a player’s movement within the narrative of a game
    (Wikipedia page)

    With other words, horizontal refers to time (after current loop X comes loop Y), vertical refers to what can be heard right now (how much of X, how much of Y)

    From a technical standpoint, both concepts are not difficult to implement and are supported by the major sound engines (FMOD, WWise, ...) .
    The extra effort lies with the composer, who not only has to slice a complete music piece into small, loopable (and often, randomly re-arrangable) pieces (horizontal), but also has to separate the instruments to sometimes be able to play alone (vertical).
    'True' vertical mixing in the sense of dynamically mixing single instruments is indeed difficult to accomplish (might not always sound good), which is why the middle way can be chosen: The composer creates mixes with a hand-picked selection of instruments from the loops and creates variants, which then can be cross-faded according to current game state. Makes sense?

    To my mind come System Shock 1 and 2; SS2 had fixed loops, which were rearranged sequentially (horizontal) and SS1 had some notion of vertical as well as it enabled/disabled various MIDI voices within the current loop according to position (example: when machinery was near you had these bassy noises, but still in tempo to the actual music)

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2000
    Location: Lootahville, Kenyahee
    Quote Originally Posted by Koki View Post
    This isn't thiefgen, you can just call me a half-deaf philistine you know..
    LOL... I wonder if you liked any of the music I used in my thief creations (RoO).

    Actually, you bring up some rather valid points.

  17. #17
    Administrator
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: above the clouds
    As another note, I played without the music last night and didn't really miss it particularly in-game. I've got a bit more appreciation for the quality of the sound effects now. I think after enough repetition any music is going to lose its appeal. I'm still listening to it out of the game, as it seems to be quite good to work to (along with a few examples from Oblivion that I like). There are a couple I'd listen to from Morrowind, but I never got a quality copy of the pieces - they sound really awful thanks to the aggressive mp3 compression of 2002.

    I think something quite devilish might be needed for Dark Brotherhood or Thieves Guild quests. The music's fine when one is being the Noble(ish) Adventurer, but doesn't seem to mesh with gratuitous thieving or professional murder.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Draggy the Dragons house
    Quote Originally Posted by Firefreak View Post
    .
    With other words, horizontal refers to time (after current loop X comes loop Y), vertical refers to what can be heard right now (how much of X, how much of Y)


    To my mind come System Shock 1 and 2; SS2 had fixed loops, which were rearranged sequentially (horizontal) and SS1 had some notion of vertical as well as it enabled/disabled various MIDI voices within the current loop according to position (example: when machinery was near you had these bassy noises, but still in tempo to the actual music)

    this is quite remarkable, I have never thought of soundtrack music in this fashion before, so many possibilities, even with just one song. The vertical thingy I mean.

  19. #19
    Taking a break
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Quote Originally Posted by PigLick View Post
    this is quite remarkable, I have never thought of soundtrack music in this fashion before, so many possibilities, even with just one song. The vertical thingy I mean.
    Haven't you ever heard it in a game? MGS2 was pretty big on vertical music, Crysis had it too.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Draggy the Dragons house
    heh I havent played either of those, but yeah I have heard in games of course, but I never really thought about the underlying structures. As a musician, what interests me is the application of vertical style composing in things other than games.

  21. #21
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Jazz odysseys feature it heavily.

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