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Segmentation for Modular Sport Music (Composing for Lineage M: GDC 2022)

By Winifred Phillips | Contact | Comply with

So joyful you’ve joined us! I’m online game composer Winifred Phillips, and that is the fourth article in my collection primarily based on my Sport Builders Convention 2022 presentation, “Composing for Lineage M: Modular Development in Sport Music.” I’ve included the content material of my GDC lecture in these articles, together with the movies and a few of the photos I utilized in my Powerpoint presentation in the course of the convention.

Within the first three articles of this collection, we mentioned the port of the favored Lineage PC recreation from 1998 to cellular units underneath the identify Lineage M, and the next launch of brand-new content material for this world-famous recreation within the DLC launch Lineage M: The Elmor.

I described what it was like creating new music for this venerable recreation over the course of these three articles. By growing a music system with a modular strategy, the superior audio crew at NCSoft and I sought methods to finest maximize the utility of the music for Lineage M: The Elmor, whereas accommodating a recreation engine designed within the Nineties. You’ll discover all these concepts mentioned intimately in these three articles:

Half One: Strategies for Modular Sport Music (Composing for Lineage M: GDC 2022)

Half Two: Construction for Modular Sport Music (Composing for Lineage M: GDC 2022)

Half Three: Stemming for Modular Sport Music (Composing for Lineage M: GDC 2022)

We simply concluded our dialogue of the position that stemming performs within the modular strategy. On the whole phrases, we’ve explored how rhythms, melodies, countermelodies, and instrumentation might be structured as discrete parts meant for a number of configurations. Within the case of Lineage M, the sport engine wouldn’t accommodate a dynamic implementation – however we did have the flexibility to compile the modules after which put together a big assortment of configurations as one-shots. The whole lot was in the identical tempo and key – all of the modules have been suitable – we had numerous choices.

Whereas dynamic building is primarily designed to permit music to react fluidly to gameplay, it additionally extends the utility of music by maximizing each single side of it. If the unique composition is constructed with a modular strategy, it turns into instantly extra relevant to a number of circumstances in-game. For Lineage M, the professional audio crew at NCSoft and I used the modular strategy to avail ourselves of as most of the choices afforded by dynamic building, regardless of the restrictions.


So now, earlier than we start wanting on the implementation of this technique within the recreation, I first wish to discuss somewhat bit concerning the world menu music I composed for Lineage M: The Elmor. Not like in-game music, world music is designed to perform intrinsically completely different targets, so it must be approached from a contemporary perspective. I mentioned the definition of world music in my e book, A Composer’s Information to Sport Music (The MIT Press):

“Everyone knows that the phrase “world” refers to one thing that pertains to the entire world. For our functions, a world monitor is a chunk of music that may be performed anyplace within the recreation. Such music has no stylistic reference to any explicit in-game web site or occasion, and can be acceptable in any location or circumstance. These tracks are typically heard most ceaselessly and subsequently are crucial in defining the musical model of the sport… A menu monitor is a chunk of music triggered every time the participant prompts a sort of choices listing that quickly pauses the motion and concurrently blocks the participant’s view of the sport…. So long as the menu might be accessed all through the sport, it may be thought of world.” Chapter 9, pages 148-149)

In Lineage M: The Elmor, the worldwide music consisted of compositions for the person interface menu and the sport’s splash display screen (i.e. the highest display screen that seems instantly when gamers launch the sport). Not like the in-game music, these UI and splash display screen compositions made a pointy departure from the important thing and tempo that ruled the remainder of the musical rating. However, the person interface music was additionally a modular assemble; so let’s discover that.

Just like the in-game music, the person interface music consisted of a set of modules. Because the music wouldn’t be used throughout gameplay, we targeted on thematic fairly than kinetic utility. We didn’t want numerous selection when it comes to pacing – the rhythm wouldn’t have to scale broadly between completely different ranges of stress and pleasure. However, the music was going for use for a number of menus and through some storytelling moments, so it needed to be versatile for these functions.

In composing the person interface music, I targeted totally on sections as the first modular unit. The music is very sectional, with numerous contrasting thematic content material together with choir. This was additionally a chance for me to have some enjoyable with the overly gothic points of this recreation.


Since Lineage M: The Elmor revolves round a Grim Reaper-inspired character, I primarily based the person interface music on the Latin textual content of the Requiem mass, particularly specializing in the parts that describe an final decide delivering justice in the course of the day of reckoning. The concept appeared thematically acceptable.


I’ve included the total Latin lyric and English translation for the person interface music under:


Dies irae, judex est venturus!

Dies irae, dies illa!

Quantus tremor est futurus,

Quando judex est venturus!

Juste judex ultionis,

Donum fac remissionis!

Rex tremendae majestatus!

Culpa! Culpa rubet vultus meus!

Quid sum – quid sum miser tunc dicturus?

Quantus – quantus tremor est futurus!

Quando judex – judex est venturus!

Dies irae!

Quando judex est venturus!


At the present time of wrath, the decide shall come!

At the present time, today of wrath!

How a lot trembling there will likely be,

When the decide shall come!

Righteous decide of vengeance,

Grant the reward of launch!

King of terrible majesty!

Guilt! My face reddens with guilt!

What shall I – what shall I, a wretch, say then?

How a lot – how a lot trembling there will likely be!

When the decide – the decide shall come!

At the present time of wrath!

When the decide shall come!

When the music was used in the course of the recreation’s launch display screen, the modular system targeted on essentially the most thematic sections of the rating, leaning closely into the choral passages. Right here’s a video of the sport’s launch display screen, so that you could see how that works. The Latin right here interprets as, “At the present time of wrath! How a lot trembling there will likely be, when the decide shall come!”

Having the music underneath the launch display screen convey strongly thematic content material was an effective way to say a musical id for the sport, and convey an inherent sense of temper and momentum. The music was additionally written in distinct modular sections, which allowed for the order of musical concepts to be juggled round. When shifting ahead into the character choice menu – the person interface music shifted its order, deleting a few of the thematic passages, in order that the music might focus extra narrowly on orchestral content material:

This can be a easy instance, however an effective way to point out how the identical piece of music can accomplish completely different duties relying upon what content material is emphasised, and what content material is omitted. The Splash Display screen communicates id and character by advantage of the assertive choir passages and the liturgical influences. The character choice menu focuses on kinetic vitality and a extra fashionable swagger, with the guitar energy chords and the string ostinatos.

Whereas choir passages have been deemphasized in character creation, they got here again in-game throughout a story cutscene. This was a state of affairs during which utilizing just one modular component from a bigger composition labored very effectively. On this narrative scene, the choir from the Splash Display screen music was used utterly by itself.


Listening to that choir singing the Latin textual content of the Requiem Mass a capella conveyed a properly spooky environment whereas the participant character interacted with the Grim Reaper. So let’s examine that out:

A modular system like this one is all about transformations. Music is constructed up in complexity, damaged down into simplicity, disassembled into parts, blended and matched to create new textures and musical concepts. A full combine could have a dramatically completely different emotional influence compared to the identical music damaged down into just some structural parts. And people structural parts – an remoted melody line, a repeating sample, a fraction of rhythm – these issues really feel dramatically completely different when faraway from their unique contexts and transplanted elsewhere within the recreation’s musical rating.


In our subsequent article, we’ll be delving into sensible concerns for the modular system throughout gameplay. Till then, thanks for studying!

Winifred Phillips is a BAFTA-nominated online game composer whose newest mission is the Jurassic World Primal Ops online game (the official recreation of the blockbuster film Jurassic World Dominion). Different latest releases embody the hit PlayStation 5 launch title Sackboy: A Huge Journey (soundtrack album now out there). Widespread music from Phillips’ award-winning Murderer’s Creed Liberation rating was featured within the efficiency repertoire of the Murderer’s Creed Symphony World Tour, which made its Paris debut in 2019 with an 80-piece orchestra and choir. As an completed online game composer, Phillips is finest recognized for composing music for video games in most of the most well-known and widespread franchises in gaming: the listing contains Murderer’s Creed, God of Warfare, Whole Warfare, The Sims, and Sackboy / LittleBigPlanet. Phillips’ has acquired quite a few awards, together with an Interactive Achievement Award / D.I.C.E. Award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, six Sport Audio Community Guild Awards (together with Music of the Yr), and three Hollywood Music in Media Awards. She is the creator of the award-winning bestseller A COMPOSER’S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC, printed by the MIT Press. As one of many foremost authorities on music for interactive leisure, Winifred Phillips has given lectures on the Library of Congress in Washington DC, the Society of Composers and Lyricists, the Sport Builders Convention, the Audio Engineering Society, and plenty of extra. Phillips’ enthusiastic followers showered her with questions throughout a Reddit Ask-Me-Something session that went viral, hit the Reddit entrance web page, acquired 14.9 thousand upvotes, and have become one of the vital widespread gaming AMAs ever hosted on Reddit. An interview along with her has been printed as part of the Routledge textual content, Ladies’s Music for the Display screen: Numerous Narratives in Sound, which collects the viewpoints of essentially the most esteemed feminine composers in movie, tv, and video games. Comply with her on Twitter @winphillips.

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