18
May 2018
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Cue of the Week: “Dissent and Steel”

Continuing the music series from Empires Apart, this week’s cue is medium-energy combat score – great for when hostilities have broken out, but haven’t yet reached apocalyptic proportions.

The meter alternates between 4/4 and 5/4, creating an asymmetry that I find useful in characterizing combat. When a flute-and-bassoon melody emerges, it’s lyrical and legato but still has to wend its way around the off-center pulse. As a result, a tune that might have been sad or dirge-like gets a bit of a rhythmic twist, and sense of personality.

11
May 2018
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Cue of the Week: “Spires of Constantinople”

Now that some time has passed, this track has emerged as my favorite from the Empires Apart score. (It may be because I have a yen for more lyrical orchestral writing.)

In contrast to the other mideastern-style theme in the game – which was martial in tone – the Byzantine melody has a quality of nostalgic yearning. The instrumentation blends Eastern and Western influences, reflecting the cross-cultural pedigree of Byzantium itself.

27
April 2018
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Cue of the Week: “The Crashing Red Tide”

The defining part of real-time strategy games is that they’re in, well, real time: your troops and civilians constantly move and frequently need your guidance. As battle descends you invariably find yourself jumping around the map, fighting fires and trying to keep track of a dozen things at once. The frantic quality of the experience can be overwhelming, but is also what makes these games a lot of fun.

Music has to be sensitive to the player’s frame of mind during the final “all-out carnage” phase of the game, as there’s less attention available for melodic detail and counterpoint. I tend to go broader and bigger during these moments, in contrast to the more peaceful early phases of the game. This week’s music selection from the Empires Apart score is a good example of this approach.

20
April 2018
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Cue of the Week: “Rise of the Middle Kingdom”

Each nation in Empires Apart has its own musical theme, evoking its cultural character as embodied in the game. (Picking a country here is a little like picking a race or class in a traditional RPG, with resulting abilities and audio-visual trappings.)

The Chinese melody, accompanying the early phases during which the player’s town is built, suggests the bustle of commerce and the ingenuity of ancient technology. I tried to preserve the lyrical pentatonic quality of Chinese folk music, as well as some of its instrumentation, while giving it the forward-direction appropriate for gameplay.

13
April 2018
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Cue of the Week: “Blades of the Faithful”

Yikes, it’s been nearly a month since the last Cue of the (so-called) Week. Sometimes the work of writing new music circumvents the sharing of old music.

Or in this case, not that old. This week’s cue is another selection from the soundtrack of the newly-released game Empires Apart. (Now available via Steam!)

Here we have another of the national faction themes, this one for ancient Arabia. I gave the central melody to the duduk, a mideastern woodwind with a distinctive, sinuous sound.

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Morituri Te Salutant // Michael Gordon Shapiro - HOMEPAGE MUSIC
  1. Morituri Te Salutant // Michael Gordon Shapiro - HOMEPAGE MUSIC
  2. Emerald, Texas // HOMEPAGE MUSIC
  3. Mythic Battle // HOMEPAGE MUSIC
  4. The Yard Sale // Michael Gordon Shapiro - HOMEPAGE MUSIC
  5. Investigations // HOMEPAGE MUSIC
  6. Home Room // HOMEPAGE MUSIC
  7. Sands of Arabia // HOMEPAGE MUSIC
  8. Spider Cult // HOMEPAGE MUSIC
  9. Poker Night // HOMEPAGE MUSIC