Tools of the Trade

With the success of our first theme, “Cultivating a Career” – we are ready to announce our second theme – “Tools of the Trade.”   Please pardon the pun in the title, perhaps I should stick to writing about music rather than making jokes…

First, I wanted to express my deep appreciation for everyone who helped bring the first theme to life – A six part Masterclass by Penka Kouneva; articles by Jeremy Borum, Andy Forsberg and others; as well as a number of in depth podcast interviews with game audio professionals from Shota Nakama, Jim Bonney, Adam Levine and Ollie Glatzer to Jason Graves and Chance Thomas.  Of course, the theme is just a suggestion, and we had many great articles during the past three months from Guy Whitmore, Alexander Brandon, Jon Bash, Kole Hicks and Larry Chang as well!

One of the most interesting things about being a video game composer is all the amazing technology that is available today. That is also one of the most difficult things about being a video game composer today.  Not only are new sample libraries coming out all the time, we also have to know which ones sound the best for each particular scene.  We also need to know about the latest Synths, Keyboards, Instruments,  DAWs, Middleware, and Plugins.  Sometimes this is overwhelming, and that is what we hope to remedy by introducing this theme and gathering tips and tricks from the collective.

Over the next three months, we will be releasing articles about the tools we use on a day to day basis when plying our trade – the creation of music for video games.  These will be tutorials, reviews, descriptions of our rigs and setups – basically examples of how we carry out our jobs.   As a community site, we are asking YOU to help us out by writing articles – long or short – about what your favorite tools are and something about how you use them to achieve your results.

New Reviews on the Way…

Over the next few weeks expect to see some in depth sample library reviews, like today’s review of Soundiron’s Symphony Series Brass Ensemble.  This review includes a new podcast interview with Soundiron’s co-founder Mike Peaslee.  Mike got his start in video games working at Crystal Dynamics, and now runs a very successful sample library company that has a wide range of great sounding instrument and sound design libraries.  Next week we will feature Strezov Sampling’s Wotan – an incredibly deep male choir that will add “Lord of the Rings” style choruses to your video game scores. This is the first of the “Choir Review Series” that will include Soundiron’s Mercury Boys Choir. Also coming up are the first three parts of the “Solo Strings” series – reviews of VirHarmonic’s Bohemian Violin, Fluffy Audio’s Trio Broz: Solo Strings, and Embertone’s Friedlander Violin.

To organize reviews, we are going to be categorizing reviews into various series, such as the Solo Strings mentioned above.  Other series will include “Cinematic Orchestral,” “Drums and Percussion,” “Brass,” “Woodwinds,” “Strings,” and “Textures, Sound Design and Oddballs.”  For example, in the Cinematic Orchestral series, which started with Metropolis Ark, we will be reviewing the complete Albion series by Spitfire. In the same series, we will be reviewing Indiginous’ clever Solid State Symphony, and Impact Soundworks Rhapsody: Orchestral Colors.  In the Drums and Percussion Series (which we have reviewed two libraries previously including 8DO’s Blackbird and Handheld Sound’s Flying Hand Percussion) we will be reviewing Soundiron’s Apocolypse Percussion Ensemble 2, Impact Soundwork’s amazing Rhapsody: Orchestral Percussion, as well as Strezov Sampling’s exciting new Thunder 3XM. For the “Textures, Sound Design and Oddballs Series, we have already reviewed Output’s Signal, but will be adding Sample Logic’s Morphestra and an iPad wonderkind by Arturia called iSpark. Finally, for the Guitars Series, we will be reviewing two hot new libraries by Indiginous: Renegade and Renaxxance.

Of course, it will take time to get all of these libraries reviewed properly and to do them all justice, but in the meantime, please check them out!


Tutorials are a very helpful way of talking about your process and helping others learn a few tips and tricks along the way.  We are looking forward to your contributions on these, and they can cover any aspect of creating video game music – from chiptunes to full orchestral scores.  Not only the tech, but the techniques…

This is also a great way to talk about games you are working on, and the techniques you used to deliver great sounding results.

Designing Music NOW Needs You

Remember, this is a community driven site that is entirely volunteer based and we need your support in the way of articles.  If you have an idea and would like to contribute please write us at





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