Kenley Kristofferson

Composer.

Tag: igtm

VGM Wednesday – “A Proper Story” from Bastion

“A Proper Story” from Bastion, by Darren Korb and released in 2011.

So, the Humble Indie Bundle 5 was released just a few weeks past and it included this highly-praised game called Bastion.  I’d heard of it, but never played it.

It wasn’t until Francesca over at the IRL Podcast sent me a note and told me that Episode 6 is going to be on the music from the Indie Bundle and invited me on the show to talk about it.  Because Francesca is awesome and I want to promote indie games as much as possible, accepting was a no-brainer.  She really wanted to talk about two games in the bundle in particular: Sword and Sworcery and Bastion.

Well, better start playing them 🙂

Sword and Sworcery has been around for a little while and is scored by Jim Guthrie (who scored the fabulous Indie Game: The Movie), while Bastion is scored by Darren Korb.  Both games are spectacular and you’ll hear a lot about the music if you check out that ep of the IRL Podcast., but let’s start with Bastion.

Korb describes the music as “acoustic frontier trip hop,” which is right on the mark.  The strummy/slidy acoustic guitar gives it a real Western edge, especially the minor pentatonic opening riff of “A Proper Story.”  But it’s not only that, it’s the sliding into the chord shape that happens after it too.  So, even just in the first four bars, we hear the riff, then three slide patterns; the riff, then three slide patterns.

Right after that, the layers of electronic drum beats come in.  Deep kicks, synth cymbals and tambourine, then a synth snare on two and four.  During that sequence, the acoustic guitar part changes to a progression of

| Im     Im      | Im    bIII IV|

… which in itself is a rough-and-tumble rock progression.  However, the acoustic guitar that slides into the chord shape (of the Im chord) doesn’t make it feel like a rock riff, but almost like a cowboy one.

Then the mandolin and sitar come in and trade bars, like a call and response in jazz.  The mandolin brings in a bluegrass sort of feel, while the sitar (with its augmented seconds and 1/4 tone bends) incites a Middle Eastern flavour to the harmony.

It’s SO eclectic and we’re not even out of the first 30 seconds 😐

This is Bastion, now go out and buy it 🙂

(Then listen to the IRL Podcast in two weeks!)
Kenley

Music Ed Monday – Allow Yourself To Be Moved

The strangest thing happened on Friday night: I went to “Indie Game: The Movie” and was emotionally moved.  I mean, really emotionally.

I had to go home and journal after watching the movie, it was that profound.

If you don’t know of IGTM, then watch the trailer below and read up on it.  There were only two screenings in Winnipeg and both were sold out – lucky I got my tickets in early December.

IGTM follows three sets of developers: Phil Fish from Polytron Corporation (of Fez fame), Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes from Super Meat Boy and Jonathan Blow, who made Braid.  Let’s do a quick rundown…

Fez:

Super Meat Boy

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snaionoxjos]

Braid

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqtSKkyJgFM]

They each have their own creative struggles, most notably with creative expression, being understood, being valued and the push for production (i.e. deadlines).

It really brought to light so many feelings that I had pushed way, way down.  For example, there was a scene where Phil is talking about how he’s been so close to this game for so long that he’s scared he’s lost perspective and can’t see the game for what it really is anymore and I feel like that all the time, especially with the choral suite that I’ve been working on-and-off for the past year.  I’m so attached to it that I don’t even know if it’s good anymore.  Well, that’s not entirely true – I would know if it sucked, but if I’m putting my heart and blood and time and tears into it, I want other people to feel what I feel and if they don’t, then I feel like maybe I haven’t achieved what I’ve set out to do.

(Keeping in mind, that once art is sent out into the world, it’s free to be interpretted as it is, Brenna said that tonight and she’s definitely right).

I don’t want to cry anyone a river in this post because that’s not what it’s really about.

On Friday, I was moved.

On Friday, I was vulnerable.

On Friday, I was open to art and it was open to me.

Let’s be honest here: Sometimes, I’m not open to art.  Sometimes, I keep that wall up and ain’t nothin’ getting through it.

We’re probably like that a lot, aren’t we? There are so many other things going through our mind that we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable during class when we’re rehearsing rep, listening to music or singing our hearts out.  Our guards are up.

The strange thing is that we don’t really like that feeling – the music always feels best when we connect with it.  We know that because that’s why we do it, that’s the feeling that keeps bringing us back.   But why do we stop it? Why do we stop the very thing that brings us there in the first place?

That’s this week’s assignment: Be aware of what gets in the way of your connection to Music in the classroom.  It’s hard, so be ready for that, but it’ll be worth it.  We’re going to pick up on it next week, so come prepared 🙂

Allow yourself to be moved.  Open up and let it happen, even if it’s just you and your iPod in the middle of the night.  Put your guard down and see what happens – you might be surprised, but you sure won’t be sorry 🙂

Kenley

(Picture: http://www.princeton.edu/~artspol/quickfacts/image%20files/apaInspiration02.gif)