Posted 24 November 2008 - 01:00 PM
There's plenty of debate. For starters, the music isn't even in a traditional Sonic style. Sonic music is late 80s pop, smooth jazz, and upbeat chord progressions; while the proposed music is good, it doesn't really fit that quota—it uses those same two or three voices, odd chord progressions, and is more fitting of a generic platformer game (or perhaps Ristar).
The point is, Sonic music needs to be fast, memorable, and very environmental—Green Hill Zone is probably one of the most iconic video game tunes because of it. It's something you can hum on the bus on the way to school, something people can universally associate with Sonic the Hedgehog, and something that's just... good. We need to take on the same kind of approach here.
We need to study the classic chord progressions. Study the musical motifs. Study what made that music so fantastic! This is the only way we're truly going to make true Sonic music in the midst of all this "Hey, this sounds cool, let's use it!" mentality. Dioxaz has a great Sonic CD style going on, and I know DM Ashura can make fantastic Sonic-style music as well. These are the people we should be going to! The more they know about the Sonic style, the better.
I think I'm going to map out some chord progressions of the classic tunes so I can try to replicate them in a way that doesn't draw any direct similarities with an existing tune. In the meantime, let's map out the general themes:
Tropical themes—marimba, piano, latin-inspired rythms, brass, fretless/picked bass, steel drum, acoustic guitar
Depending on the kind of ruins...
- Castle/Medieval themes—very light, 4/4 percussion, organs, strings, etc.
- Latin/South American themes—piano, brass, strings, shakers, maracas, acoustic guitar, sort of an underlying orchestral feel; swung rythm
- Valley/Mayan/Ican themes—Slap bass, funk rythms, synth leads/chords, electric guitar (not distorsion guitar), "wah-wah" sort of filters, very upbeat style. This also applies to Spring Yard-esque themes.
- Casino—Big Band Jazz. Saxophone, brass, swung beats, acoustic bass. Alternatively, very upbeat celebration music—see Balloon Park for an example. Feel like you're at a festival!
- Carnival—woodwinds, accordion, very "blunt" sort of beat with "real" items used for percussion. Sort of primitive in style. Alternatively, upbeat celebration music (as above)
- Christmas sort of themes—Bells, electric piano, strings, orchestra, smooth backbeat. Think Ristar's ice levels. Alternatively, euro-trance dance beats—see Ice Cap
- Very epic themes. Think the kind of music that plays in every kind of drastic situation—orchestral themes, oboe, french horn, bassoon, etc... all in a dark locrian key. Uses lots of minor chords to try and play off that "eerie" feel.
That's just sort of a rough map. Do you see what I'm getting at here? We need to map out the different styles of music, maybe find some real-life examples, and then construct our own music in that style. It may not be easy, but it's the best way to make this work as best as it possibly can.
Posted 24 November 2008 - 07:14 PM
I didn't read half of your post, but when I re-listened the tracks I felt like most of them don't fit perfectly or fit at all.
Glam City (the one posted with a pic of Cosmic City) reminds me of Chrome Gadget song, but there are some parts which the melody sounds more like a sunday cartoon opening, and, well, as many of you said already here, does not seem Sonic-ish, maybe Ristar, but not Sonic.
However, the Sky Surf song (Blue Mountain one) in my opinion, fits perfectly, it reminds me of Lava Reef but with a feel on it that reminds me of Sonic X-Treme songs.
Posted 07 December 2008 - 01:05 AM
Basically, orchestral, heavy beats using either timpanis or... ehm, marching drums (for lack of a better term; I'm not THAT music literate... :\), etc.
Although, to be fair, Sonic works with more genres than you'd think. I mean, just look at <I>Sonic 3D</I> for the Saturn... barring maybe Spring Stadium Act 2 (seriously, WAY too cartoony), it all generally worked. Granted, it still reflected a few obvious qualities which cannot be compromised (eg: the first stage is upbeat, the last stage is ominous, castle stages are mysterious, etc), but it kept all those qualities in a variety of different genres, and honestly I think the thing's all the more richer for it.
I haven't given the other tunes TOO much of a listen through, but Glam City really nailed that stage for me. I don't know how you can think that doesn't feel <I>Sonic</I>-y; it DEFINITELY makes me think of Hydrocity Act 1, or maybe some <I>Chaotix</I> tunes. The whole concept of a jazzy city tune, as well, goes back even to Casino Night, although that was more Vegas-style jazz, whereas this is a bit more akin to smooth jazz (with considerably more swing). Still works, personally.
As for what the music should SOUND like... well, we still need to decide on the target platform, or at least what kind of style we're shooting for. I've already said we should be shooting for a Saturn-era 2D platformer, which basically looks and plays like a Genesis game but is miles prettier - and this carries over into the audio, as well, given that the CD format allowed for redbook audio and that developers were none too shy to embrace it. While YM2612 music would certainly be retro, there's really no reason we have to tie ourselves to it, especially given that, honestly, music that sounds more like the original instruments, as opposed to synths, would be far more fulfilling in the long run. Maybe music modules (eg: IT, XM, S3M, etc.)? The Saturn's sound chip, although I'm hardly being technical here, produced sound basically akin to that - MIDIs run through with fancy voices, like a higher-quality SNES sound chip. (It also had ADX towards the end of its lifespan, but still.)
Posted 07 December 2008 - 07:09 AM
I think CD quality music is too open ended. There really isn't any limits there, and unless there's a distinct style in place everyone's contributions will sound different. With modules (or MegaDrive-like music) you can put in the instruments you want and then go nuts, and it'll still sound like it's from the same game (well, assuming they're not completely stupid).
Posted 07 December 2008 - 11:44 AM
Sonic CD had one of the most brilliant soundtracks—if not the most brilliant—ever in a Sonic game. And it came out in 1993! I think that says a lot about how well CD audio can fit the environment of a Sonic game, and not be limited to the test of time.
Nobody is saying we can't do music in that sort of style—early 90s synths made Sonic CD's music great, too—but I think it's dumb to say we can only have x and x about of music channels and x and x type of instruments. It's dull, it's boring, and it's needlessly conservative. Let's do something better.
Posted 07 December 2008 - 01:26 PM
Posted 07 December 2008 - 02:48 PM
I've seen you make this argument about how the next Sonic game would have been on Saturn, so we must use Saturn limitations on graphics and music and whatever else. Using this logic you might as well go further and say that the next Sonic game would have defiantly been 3D to keep up with Mario64 and all that.
I still feel like this thing should look, sound, and feel like a Genesis Sonic game.
Posted 07 December 2008 - 06:31 PM
The song doesn't boast any chords as such, but the piano is, for the most part, outlining triads. the chord sequence as far as I can tell (Feel free to correct me) goes something like this:
Im-VI-III-V-I (D minor)
The last two chords are what really gives the song it's flamenco-inspired sound, as they are borrowed from the harmonic minor scale, which sounds very exotic due to the raised seventh degree, and the augmented second interval it creates between itself and the sixth scale degree, which leads nicely to the subject of:
Although the augmented second interval isn't heard (That would be A#-C#) the C# on its own is enough to add a very exotic sound to this song.
After this, the melody becomes quite ambiguous, as it switches between natural minor, harmonic minor, and major (albiet briefly). Another thing I think should be mentioned about the melody, is its persistence towards stepwise motion, which puts quite a lot of emphasis on the minor second interval and, although the note D# isn't used, I think the song still has a very phrygian character to it because of this.
the song is obviously in 4/4, but the drumming is fairly syncopated. Beats 1, 2, and 3 are stressed as expected, but beat 4 is offset by a sixteenth note, giving the fourth beat of the bar a sense of surprise and momentum.
This is a very brief view of the song, and doesn't really do it justice, but I just thought I'd write up something quick, because this song really does capture the feel of the level perfectly.
Posted 08 December 2008 - 09:15 PM
Posted 09 December 2008 - 01:34 PM
One such trend is how the background music becomes generally darker as the game progresses. This is pretty much a given for most games.
Of course, there is also often a place late in the game that has a pretty peaceful tune in comparison to the tunes of the areas before and after it (Sonic 2's Sky Chase zone would be an example of such.)
Also, trends as far as the music itself. Since we're focusing mostly on our Tropical Zone, let's look at the music for tropical zones past. I think Palmtree Panic's American Present Music is a great place to start. Why? Because it sounds like something I might actually hear in a real-life tropical location.