Arranging for Games: Vertical Layers – Part 3 (by @winphillips) | #gameaudio

Some days ago I posted about a series of articles, written by Winifred Philips, concerning arranging for games using vertical layers. The first post (click here to access it) was about how efective techniques were when using vertical layers when creating and arranging for the melody and the countermelody. In Winifred own words

In part one, we covered the purpose of the arranger, the value of a strong arrangement, and what differentiates traditional arranging from creating an arrangement for an interactive piece of music. We then discussed techniques forRestaurant-music-006 arranging an effective melody in an interactive construct. In part two we extended the discussion to countermelody, exploring techniques that function well when creating a secondary melody for use within interactive music.

The last post of the series (part three) was yet to be released, and three days ago, Phillips posted it on her blog. Yay! Here is the link for the three posts:

Now, she explains techniques related to the creation and arrangement of the accompaniment. Here is hoe she starts the post:

While melodies and countermelodies occupy the center of attention, the accompaniment serves a crucial function. As a strong supporting mechanism, the accompaniment grounds the listener in the key, establishes chord structures/progressions, and lends “harmonic weight” to the composition. Harmonic weight indicates the tendency of certain chords to move logically to other related chords. To make this abstract concept more concrete, let’s picture the first chord at the top of a hill, ready to slide right to the next chord, as though tugged there by the weight of gravity.

Here’s a nicely simple video demonstration of this concept produced by the music tutorial site Rhythmic Canada. Let’s take a look at the most famous and popular harmonic progression: dominant seventh to tonic.

The progression of chords can lend a sensation of momentum to any composition, implying moments of tension and release as chords proceed in logical and aesthetically desirable ways. As an arranger, it’s our job to decide what instruments will carry what notes within the chords, and how each individual chord will be voiced.

Then, she uses the same approach to talk about the techniques there are more or less effective on creating/arranging accompaniments, when using vertical layers: step-wise movements, close/open positioning voicing, inversions, masking, etc.

It’s a pretty great article because, at least for me, creating an good accompaniment can be as hard as creating the main melody. It’s pretty easy to over do something, or create to many instrument layers, giving the track a busy and muffled feeling.

Hope you enjoy it. Thanks, Winifred, for such great insights! 🙂

Mauricio Ruiz –

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