West's music development ideas

Create music and sound effects for mainline or user-made content.

Moderators: Forum Moderators, Developers

User avatar
West
Retired Lord of Music
Posts: 1173
Joined: October 30th, 2006, 7:24 am
Location: In the philotic connections between ansibles.
Contact:

West's music development ideas

Post by West »

OK, I know, I'm still semi-resigned/on leave or something like that. But I have a lot of free time this weekend so I figured I might as well share some of my ideas on Wesnoth music development with you. All feedback is welcome, be it praise, indifference or death threats.

Reusing themes?
We're making a game soundtrack here. Orchestral soundtracks usually have a sense of consistency, something which Wesnoth unfortunately lacks ATM. The music is generally of awesome quality and I'm very proud of what we have achieved -- but nonetheless it's very much a bunch of completely unrelated pieces. I would like to change that. So unless anyone objects*, I would like to encourage all Wesnoth musicians to reuse existing themes. Yes that's right -- pick something you like from an existing tune, and put it in your own music. Don't copy it verbatim though, just tastefully weave it into your piece. It can be anyhting; a rhythm, a chord progession, a melody. If we get to the point where various themes are reprised throughout the game music, we'll truly have a soundtrack to be reckoned with... which leads us to:

The Theme Bank
This is something I've been thinking about for a while. Reusing themes from current music is only one step towards making the soundtrack sound like a whole. I think it would be great if we musicians could get together and decide on a number of typical themes for a wide selection of things. Factions, characters, locations, events, etc. Now before you say "that's an insane amount of work!", let me explain. It doesn't have to be entire pieces. Just small snippets of music, recorded with a minimum of instruments (preferably just one). This is the elvish theme, this is Asheviere's theme, this is the Magic theme, this is the Elensefar theme and so on. We can each write a few suggestions and then let people vote for the most fitting theme. When a particular theme has been decided on, we put it in a repository of music snippets that composers can use.

A snippet can be as basic as this.

I think that not only can this be a good starting point for new contributors, it's also a great resource for those moments when you get stuck writing a piece.

Lossless contributions
I listened through a number of Wesnoth tracks yesterday and became painfully aware that there's a lot of inconsistencies in sound quality. Not sample quality, mind you, sound quality. Some pieces are encoded in 96Kbps while others are 170Kbps or higher. There's big differences in volume and clarity. Right now there's not a whole lot we can do about that as long as we're dealing with ogg files. I therefore propose that we make it a requirement that music that has been accepted in to mainline should be submitted in a lossless format (I'm thinking FLAC). That way we can easily tweak a piece that, for example, lacks in the dB department without any quality loss. In fact, I volunteer to handle this checking and tweaking of music files, and converting them into oggs before comitting them. If we agree on this, it would also be a good idea to get in touch with all current music contributors and ask for lossless versions of their pieces.

So, what say you?

* GPL allows derivative works, right? So technically, I'm not sure anyone can object, but it would be nice if we could be unanimous on this.

Boucman
Inactive Developer
Posts: 2119
Joined: March 31st, 2004, 1:04 pm

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by Boucman »

I'll answer on the only point I could understand....

we already have a SVN branch for high quality art that is too big for mainline... so saving loosless music there makes perfect sense...

as for the actuall decision taking... you're the lord of music, so... your call
Fight key loggers: write some perl using vim

User avatar
West
Retired Lord of Music
Posts: 1173
Joined: October 30th, 2006, 7:24 am
Location: In the philotic connections between ansibles.
Contact:

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by West »

Boucman wrote:we already have a SVN branch for high quality art that is too big for mainline... so saving loosless music there makes perfect sense...
Great! Then there's no problem with storage on our side. And as for submissions, contributors can quite easily use a free hosting service like rapidshare or similar, from where we can download the song. Consider it done then. I will update the music contributions faq to reflect this change.
Boucman wrote:as for the actuall decision taking... you're the lord of music, so... your call
True. But as for the reusing themes bit, I would at least like to have the majority of resident composers on my side. I don't want to dictate a change that will make me enemies.

fabi
Developer
Posts: 1223
Joined: March 21st, 2004, 2:42 pm
Location: Germany

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by fabi »

West, I like your Ideas. I can't say much more because I know nearly nothing about music or the making of it.

I'm not sure if this is the right thread to discuss another matter that could be related to your proposal or not.
So feel free to split this post away.

During campaign polishing I have found it difficult to find fitting music pieces for the use in story parts.
Story parts a read in a few seconds or maximal one or two minutes and most of the wesnoth music doesn't come to the point in that short time.
I mean you only hear some Intro tunes during the story and then the crossover to the scenario music is abrupt.

This limits the usable songs to a handful.
Maybe some of the longer songs could have smaller versions that vary the theme and are more suited to fit the story parts.

Greetings, Fabi

User avatar
vladikus
Posts: 25
Joined: October 1st, 2008, 2:55 pm

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by vladikus »

I like the idea. The piece I am currently working on doesn't have any themes (it is actually an attempt at Debussy's Impressionistic style of "broken fragments of melody, the outlines of which are blurred and indistinct" [an observation from Gloria Fiero's The Humanistic Tradition: Book 5]. I was working more on building an atmosphere--I'll likely finish this piece out, present it, and see how the feedback goes. Anyways, I like all your ideas (especially the latter one about the sound quality). Where would we post samples for the theme bank (I've noticed a lot of hosting sites will take the file down after a while, but the point of an archive seems to be to always have it)?

AI
Developer
Posts: 2394
Joined: January 31st, 2008, 8:38 pm

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by AI »

You upload it to a hosting site.
West commits it to svn resources branch. (where anyone can access it)
West transcodes it to vorbis and commits it to svn trunk.

So the hosting site may remove it, but it'll remain on the resources branch.

User avatar
West
Retired Lord of Music
Posts: 1173
Joined: October 30th, 2006, 7:24 am
Location: In the philotic connections between ansibles.
Contact:

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by West »

fabi wrote:Maybe some of the longer songs could have smaller versions that vary the theme and are more suited to fit the story parts.
That would indeed be possible but it raises the question: when, if ever, will the longer versions be used?

Hmm, can the Wesnoth music engine do fades, I wonder?
vladikus wrote:Where would we post samples for the theme bank (I've noticed a lot of hosting sites will take the file down after a while, but the point of an archive seems to be to always have it)?
My thought was to store the theme snippets here on the Wesnoth server. These would be very small files. Free hosting sites is good for uploading clips though, as not everyone have sites of their own.

Rain
Music Contributor
Posts: 256
Joined: September 27th, 2005, 4:44 am

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by Rain »

I've made repeated attemps to make themes. It'd be awesome if the musicians could all work with similar themes to make the motifs stronger. However, the more I think about it the more difficult and complex this seems. The fact that we often have many musicians working on the project destroys thematic continuity as everyone has their own melodic, harmonic style, etc. This is exacerbated by the fact that we didn't incorporate thematic relevance early enough in Wesnoth development, which makes matters sticky as we probably don't want to replace and omit a majority of the works we have at this point. For thematic relevance, it's hard to put a finger on because we all want to work with our own themes... This isn't bad necessarily as it sounds like most people want to skip the storyline sections (and the thematic roles of the music therein) anyways to get to the battles.

I've tried to make quite a bit of my own wesnoth music have thematic consistency, but I'm afraid that it's all for naught as the music often finds itself in multiple scenarios... (unless I am mistaken) So the strength of the theme kind of loses its sense of gravity and purpose.

The only I can think of to keep continuity in each chapter is to setup so each composer writes the complete template theme for an entire scenario on their own. That sounds pretty nutty and would require a ton of work, but might be worth looking into if in fact we care to delve further into thematic development and reprisals in the future.

Also, it's probably not entirely necessary/feasible to make every single piece of music in a scenario have thematic continuity. Just the important parts of the scenario.

User avatar
zookeeper
WML Wizard
Posts: 9741
Joined: September 11th, 2004, 10:40 pm
Location: Finland

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by zookeeper »

West wrote:Hmm, can the Wesnoth music engine do fades, I wonder?
Unfortunately no. That's one of the things it'd need to be able to do. There was an attempt at that before, but if I recall correctly, only fadeouts ended up working (so no crossfading).

User avatar
West
Retired Lord of Music
Posts: 1173
Joined: October 30th, 2006, 7:24 am
Location: In the philotic connections between ansibles.
Contact:

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by West »

Rain wrote:However, the more I think about it the more difficult and complex this seems. The fact that we often have many musicians working on the project destroys thematic continuity as everyone has their own melodic, harmonic style, etc.
True, but I think you're interpreting my suggestion as more complex than it really is. I'm not saying we should go for the Star Wars approach and reuse main themes ad nauseam. Only here and there, and in a subtle way. It doesn't have to be more than a familiar little melody that pops up once in a piece. Also, I wouldn't want to make it a requirement. If people want to reuse themes, I think we should encourage them to do so.
Rain wrote:This is exacerbated by the fact that we didn't incorporate thematic relevance early enough in Wesnoth development, which makes matters sticky as we probably don't want to replace and omit a majority of the works we have at this point.
That's why I suggested we encourage people to use themes from the existing music. No need for omitting anything -- the themes are already there, all we need to do is work them into future pieces.
Rain wrote:The only I can think of to keep continuity in each chapter is to setup so each composer writes the complete template theme for an entire scenario on their own. That sounds pretty nutty and would require a ton of work, but might be worth looking into if in fact we care to delve further into thematic development and reprisals in the future.
Yeah, that would indeed be a lot of work. That was basically what I aimed to to with Northern Rebirth, and as we all know I failed miserably.
Rain wrote:Also, it's probably not entirely necessary/feasible to make every single piece of music in a scenario have thematic continuity. Just the important parts of the scenario.
Nope, that's not necessary. I would just like the various pieces in the game to be more musically related, so to speak. But if no other composer is interested in this -- no biggie. I'll just try reprising some of my own themes in the new stuff I write.
zookeeper wrote:Unfortunately no. That's one of the things it'd need to be able to do. There was an attempt at that before, but if I recall correctly, only fadeouts ended up working (so no crossfading).
That's too bad. Otherwise it would be fairly simple to fade a piece in at n:nn and fade it out again at n:nn, so that only the desired part of it plays. manually creating shorter versions of pieces sounds like potential waste of space, as story scenes aren't likely to all be of the same lenght. We might end up with dozens of versions of the same piece.

User avatar
turin
Lord of the East
Posts: 11662
Joined: January 11th, 2004, 7:17 pm
Location: Texas
Contact:

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by turin »

Another problem with trying to time storyline music is, the scenes aren't time-based - the player reads the text as slowly or as quickly as he wants to. One person might get to dramatic part of the dialogue at the climax of the music, but another person might be only halfway through, or...
For I am Turin Turambar - Master of Doom, by doom mastered. On permanent Wesbreak. Will not respond to private messages. Sorry!
And I hate stupid people.
The World of Orbivm

User avatar
West
Retired Lord of Music
Posts: 1173
Joined: October 30th, 2006, 7:24 am
Location: In the philotic connections between ansibles.
Contact:

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by West »

turin wrote:Another problem with trying to time storyline music is, the scenes aren't time-based - the player reads the text as slowly or as quickly as he wants to. One person might get to dramatic part of the dialogue at the climax of the music, but another person might be only halfway through, or...
Very true. So making the pieces shorter isn't really a solution -- that way some players might end up with no music at all if they take their sweet time clicking through the dialogue. In fact I don't see how this can be solved, other than creating story/emotion music that 'gets to the point' quite quickly. I.e. skipping long intros and moving directly to the sad/happy/whatever theme. But that's not really a good way of composing.

User avatar
jeremy2
Music Contributor
Posts: 157
Joined: July 26th, 2007, 6:04 pm
Location: Utah
Contact:

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by jeremy2 »

You know West, these are all very good ideas but I don't think that the system we have in place (the bulletin board) is sufficient to keep track of everything. I've been trying to come up with a decent system for keeping track of songs, revisions, letting people comment on them, etc, but as of yet to come up with anything that I really feel good about. I would love to make an app and be willing to host it, but I was wondering if people would be willing to go to yet another site/section to submit their pieces. I was thinking that the app could have an autopost function so that whenever somebody posts a new song or makes a change to it that something is posted here. Thoughts?
Gold Note Express (Owner) :: IRC name: eltiare :: Twitter profile

User avatar
West
Retired Lord of Music
Posts: 1173
Joined: October 30th, 2006, 7:24 am
Location: In the philotic connections between ansibles.
Contact:

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by West »

jeremy2 wrote:You know West, these are all very good ideas but I don't think that the system we have in place (the bulletin board) is sufficient to keep track of everything. I've been trying to come up with a decent system for keeping track of songs, revisions, letting people comment on them, etc, but as of yet to come up with anything that I really feel good about. I would love to make an app and be willing to host it, but I was wondering if people would be willing to go to yet another site/section to submit their pieces. I was thinking that the app could have an autopost function so that whenever somebody posts a new song or makes a change to it that something is posted here. Thoughts?
:hmm:

I see your point -- keeping track of changes is hard -- but I'm not sure I think a separate music posting system is a good idea. Mainly because I think we'd lose a lot of commenters -- and there's really not a lot of them to begin with. For example, I often pop into the art sections to see what's going on, and I comment on stuff from time to time (not as much as I used to though). Now if the art was moved off site... that would definitely not make me spend more time there as it would mean yet another user registration and login, and yet another site to check for updates. I don't think I'm the only one who has enough sites to keep track of already. Simply put, I would rather have players and other devs/contributors commenting on the music than a fancy music posting system.

I appreciate your initiative and offer though :)

TimothyP
Music Contributor
Posts: 244
Joined: July 18th, 2005, 4:34 pm
Location: Southern California
Contact:

Re: West's music development ideas

Post by TimothyP »

If anyone plans to do anything with motives/themes from either of my pieces, just let me know. Email or message me. Also, it would be nice to hear it first.

Post Reply