Kingdom Ka #2 – Establishing Tone

Writing music for my pieces is my guilty pleasure. That is, I spend longer on it than I probably ought to, and deep down I know it’s still probably procrastination at times, even when it’s still technically work. But I’ve learnt that music is also a very powerful tool in discovering the tone of a piece. As such it’s been very valuable creating music this early on, as music tends to more abstractly convey a sense of emotion and mood compared to a written narrative. Music has always been a great source of inspiration, and I’m sure that’s a universal truth. It plants moments and characters and thoughts in your head that simply theorycrafting couldn’t. Music gets inside your gut. And while it’s probably typical to have music composed for a piece towards the end of its development, I’ve found it might just be best to get working on it as soon as possible. Okay, sure, certain moments will need very specific music – you can’t just compose a few tracks and glue them onto every situation – but once you have those first few refrains down to begin with, I think it’s really helpful as a guide for the visuals and story.

Kingdom Ka already has a wider soundtrack than Cold Valley (if it’s appropriate to compare), and I’m kean to take it even further. I’ve been working with a trained cellist to help record some of my compositions to help really give them that sound of authenticity. I’m so happy with some of the results, and believe these pieces to be some of my best work. As it stands, I’ve built a very traditional soundtrack, with mostly strings and piano (inspired mostly by Thomas Newman, Yann Tiersen and Mark Hollis), but since Kingdom Ka will feature more abstract imagery, I’m hoping to create some more glitchy and unplaceable tracks as I move forward, incorporating electronic and modern sounds. I’ll also be looking to create some more ambient tracks, the kind that sit behind and aren’t designed to be noticed, but help keep the mood rolling. Anyway, feel free to listen to what I currently have available on SoundCloud:

In push for presenting my ideas at a sort of mini-exhibition my tutor group held, I spent last week building the first part of the game that would introduce the player to the setting and the world. It was well recieved, which was a relief because as it stands it throws the user the deep end with very little explanation. And that would be its main criticism, which is fair at this point, and I’m working on ways to make it less obtuse while holding onto its ‘mystery’. Still, it was selected as the piece that felt the ‘most finished’ (which we agreed was slightly ironic as it’s about a tenth of the entire thing!), but no one could really give a definitive reason why they felt that way. What was certainly highlighted as a strength was the visual style. And I think the direction I’m taking is one of the most interesting I’ve attempting yet. Combining black and white pattern work with faded colours of real world photography has been really successful so far, especially when combining live action footage into the mix. I feel like I’ve only skimmed the surface of what I might be able to do with the art style, but so far it’s worked best when the collage chosen is unusual, but not entirely out of place. The beauty of it is when the characters move around it like it’s entirely normal, and when the photography starts to feel like a relic or memento of our own world and culture.

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