Short custom music for NWN1 and NWN2

Hi all! I was a bit bored today, and since I’m being stuck with the story on the module I’m currently working on, I thought to try and make some music for an area in my module. I turned out ok maybe, but I don’t think I’m going to use it. I tried to emulate the style of Jeremy Soule, Dave Fraiser and Neil Goldberg, the composers of the neverwinter nights games. I normaly just write pop songs in my spare time, and I’ve tried before to make film music, but I’ve never been good at it. Still, I thought that maybe some of you module makers out there could have use of it if you like it. It’s a bit rough around the egdes but…well, well…

I call the piece of music “Morning in the valley”. It’s in bmu format, so it’s ready to put to use in a module if you want to.

Have a nice day!

/andgalf

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Thanks for sharing! I can appreciate you being perhaps overly critical of your own work, but this is a delightful little track and I could definitely imagine hearing it in a commercial title.

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Thanks. Having listened to it again, I find it quite ok, but it needs a lot more work refining it, to make it usable. Maybe I’ll go back and see if I can make it better. However, I got help with the story for my module by a friend of mine, so I’ll probably go back to working on that instead.

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I was so delighted the hairs on my arms stood on end.
Beautifully composed and a treat for the ears.

Bravo sir! Bravo!

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I’m totally for it. I’m a terrible musician, myself - over a decade of piano and guitar practice as a kid and really nothing to show for it besides abstract theory knowledge - and can’t write compelling compositions at all. But I still like to think I know talent when I hear it, and yours is worth cultivating!

If you don’t mind sharing, what’s your workflow like? For all the music I’ve ever tried to make for my own projects I’ve just used various DAWs (I’ve been using FL Studio since it was FruityLoops) and on-screen software keyboards. I like to think that’s sufficient if one knows what they’re doing, but I’m always curious to know what other folks are using in their work.

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Ok, here’s a long post. Sorry about not keeping it short.

Well, for this it was actually just improvising. I opened my DAW (I’ve used Cubase ever since Cubase 2.0 on my Atari) and imported a few VST synths like Symphobia and whatnot. Began with just playing some stuff with the choir sound, moved to the flute sound and started improvising a melody…Then I moved to another key to make it interesting, and I know a few tricks when it comes to key changes…

With workflow, when making pop songs, like I usually do, I come up with a chord structure, a sound, an arrangement and a groove. Then I come up with a melody, and always last, I deal with the lyrics. I’ve become quite obsessed with sound, production and mixing these last 10 years (and I collect way too many vintage synthesizers). Many popular artists, like some dj’s, don’t know how to play an instrument anymore, and I, in my humble opinion, think it’s fairly and sadly obvious. Ok, now I’m just rambling…

As I teach music for a living, well, I know a lot of theory and know a few typical chords and chord structures typical for the filmmusic genre. But orchestration is massively difficult, at least for me. I’m a huge fan of John Williams for example, to me the greatest composer who ever lived, and even though I have sheet music with the full scores of him to look at what he’s doing, it totally baffles my mind how he does it. Still, it’s like with everything. This is a craft. You don’t learn orchestration in a day. You have to practice it a lot, and there’s books and online help aplenty. I’m just too lazy to really learn. I arrange stuff for smaller ensembles daily in my work, but those arrangements are just passable, and when dealing with students just learning how to play, you’re very limited.

I feel, that it’s very important to know how to play an instrument. You don’t have to be a master by any degree, but you need to know the basics. If you know the most common scales, chords, how to add notes to chords (in my native language we call it “coloring chords” but there’s no good english word for this, and it baffles me. When looking at videos on youtube they mostly talk about “fat chords”) then you will be far more able to come up with stuff. Some say that learning music theory is a hindrance, and in some rare cases maybe it is, but mostly it gives you ideas how to proceed with a musical piece. The way you learn how to compose is like the old jazz guys always used to do themselves, transcribe what songs/music you like. Listen and learn the tricks. If you’ve transcribed let’s say 10 songs of your favourite composer or artist, you will begin to see patterns emerge. Steal those ideas, and make your own variations of these. The old classical masters all did it. Two tricks common in film music and computer game scores: The overuse of the lydian scale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4IJnSTS84A
and moving chords, just any simple major or minor chords will do, a third down or up, and voila, you get the typical soundtrack feeling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8xwh2g0MMs

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Don’t apologize, this was an enlightening read. I should have guessed that music was more than a hobby for you!

I can certainly appreciate the ideas you put forward, particularly with regard to stealing the techniques of your betters. I have a degree in architecture, and I learned early on in academic practice that “all art is theft” (I believe that was Picasso’s claim) and that a great way to learn is to look at what an adept in your craft has done and try to figure out why it works. Incidentally, making NWN modules is where I first really learned how to do this.

That said, I can only really wish that I prioritized my time a little more appropriately to increase my skill with an instrument. As a child, I was pretty much forced into piano and guitar lessons and my strong instinct to rebel against being told what to do hindered me from ever gaining proficiency with either one. I wish now I’d have given more attention to at least guitar, since it’s such an inherently portable instrument. Unfortunately, with enough pressures in life as it is, it’s one of those skills I plan on building up “one day” in the future.

Surprisingly, I had no trouble picking up theory from my music instruction and have retained much of it. I am fairly comfortable in the world of mathematics and physics, so the creation of and relationships between sounds is an intuitive concept to me. But that’s a sort of passive skill, and I guess I’ve always thought that picking a key, choosing a chord progression, and then sort of tweaking or playing with arrangements just seemed like too formulaic of an approach for something as ephemeral and, perhaps, soulful as music. I often hear interesting melodies spontaneously in my head and wish I could transcribe them, but the mere act of even humming them out loud makes them dissipate into the aether.

Anyway, enough of my shortcomings and self-reinforced inhibitions. This is about your composition and I think it’s fantastic. I think I speak for more than just myself when I say that it would be wonderful if you felt like sharing more of your work, especially pieces that fit the kinds of fantasy settings we build for in this community.

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Thank you for the kind words. Well, as it is, this in one of the few sort of orchestral pieces I’ve ever done, to be honest. Around 20 years ago, me and some friends did a Star Wars fanfilm. Everything got filmed, but sadly it was never finished. I did some music for that, but the plugins I had at that time weren’t that good, and if I would listen to that stuff today, I would probably feel really embarrassed. I knew even less about arranging and orchestration back then.

Ok, I may have one short piece of music that I did recently, that is fairly good, but it doesn’t fit the fantasy setting. It’s more of a sci-fi score, with equal parts synthesizers as horns and strings. Think like 80s Tron music perhaps. So, I don’t have anything else to share that really fits NWN or NWN2, I’m afraid.
And it’s really hard to find good music that fits the fantasy world setting. Computer game music is a bit different to filmmusic in that it shouldn’t be too melodic. What I mean is that it shouldn’t grab your attention too much. It needs to be in the background, and for a long time. I’m really impressed with people like Jeremy Soule (composer of NWN, KOTOR, Morrowind, Skyrim, Guild Wars etc.). When I listen to his tracks without the games, it is sometimes actually, if I may be so bold, quite boring. But ingame it is fantastic! Ok, some really stand on its own, like the Morrowind theme, which I think is amazing. But you can’t have a strong theme like that when you are questing in a town or village for 2 hours. It would make one nuts, I believe.

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No wonder you have a good grasp of theory if you’re good at math and physics. A lot of the stuff in the world of music is very logical, and often quite simple logic too.

People sometimes wrongly think (ok, again just my opinion, I guess) that music is something mysterious that only people with “talent” can do something with. In my experience it’s got very little to do with talent. It’s more about extremely hard work (think of Pat Metheny, the jazz guitarist, that practiced like 10 hours a day when he was younger) and learning a craft. Sure, you have it easier if you feel music and if you’re not tone deaf, but I’ve been proven that even those (I got an actual proof of this from a teacher when I studied at the university) that are seemingly tone deaf can learn how to sing, if the interest is there and one is ready to put in the work. :slightly_smiling_face:

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SpellForce 2 soundtrack are quite good to. Well, in my book at least.

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Ah, I haven’t played the Spellforce games. Will check those soundtracks out.

Here:

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Nice. Yes, there is quite a lot of good game music out there, I guess. Then again, every game is different and needs different things depending what kind of game it is, if it’s linear or otherwise.

Other good game music soundtracks that comes to mind are:

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I’m glad to see the Outcast soundtrack here. It’s among the ten best game soundtracks. The whole game is very, very good.

And there is this one that everyone has surely heard.
Perfect for a dwarf clan … :beers:

Medieval: Total War 1 ~ Viking Winning Theme

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Here is my other piece I did about a year ago maybe. It was supposed to maybe be the music of some independent film or something. Never came to pass. Quite pleased with the result of the music so far, but it’s far from finished. Maybe someone is interested and want to take a listen. This independent movie was to be some sort of 80s movie, I believe. Some dude from Australia contacted me, if I remember correctly. Well, so it’s full of synth stuff as well as orchestral stuff. Don’t think it would fit into NWN or NWN2. Maybe if someone made a sci-fi module:

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Sounds like something that would fit perfectly into an episode of “Stranger Things”, so the D&D connection is still very much there! I love that synthwave opening, and it definitely takes on an interesting “lost in space” vibe when you introduce those sustained pads. I only wish the transition (and the whole track) was stretched out a bit, but I understand it’s a work in progress.

There’s a lot of renewed interest in this kind of music on its own, lately, and not just as a soundtrack to some other media. It might be worth it for you to release some of your music through Bandcamp and gauge audience interest. I’ve used that platform to find and support a vast number of artists, myself. I’d gladly pay for a full album of your work.

I’ve already have about 100 songs on my website to download for free and lots of songs on my soundcloud. Most of them in the synthwave/italo disco style, with occasional 80s pop or slick so called “westcoast” (think music from the late 70s to early 80s from studio musicians in LA, like Al Jarreau, David Foster, Jay Graydon, Pages, Mr Mister etc.). As I’ve already stated, I don’t do much in the filmmusic, game music style, and I probably never will release an album. For me, just as with NWN2 module making, it’s just a hobby, and I want it to remain that.

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It’s really beautiful!

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@Vivienne Thank you!

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