Designing Music NOW

Dedicated to the Craft of Creating Music for Video Games and Interactive Media

Networking The Right Way

Networking The Right Way

The question “What is the best way to network?” is one that can baffle even the most successful artists. The music industry has become extremely diverse and the work is spread out extremely widely, so Guerrilla tactics are needed more than ever before. Any industry relating to the arts is whimsical. Styles change, tastes change, the personalities of the creators and consumers change, and the arts themselves change. It can be very difficult to pinpoint a need and position yourself to fill that need. Even if you’re able to do that, it can still be difficult to monetize what you have done. The methods of networking are constantly changing, and the type of networking that pays off is changing just as fast. No matter how long your music career lasts, the difficulty of building and rebuilding your network will persist throughout for all but a lucky few.

Creating Music for Robots: Interview with the Composing Team for Cozmo

Creating Music for Robots: Interview with the Composing Team for Cozmo

Cozmo is a table-top robot released last October by Anki. Recently, DesigningMusicNow got to interview composers Brian Trifon and Brian Lee White of Finishing Move Inc. and award winning composer Gordy Haab about the music behind Cozmo. Gordy Haab is a GANG award winning composer whom has also scored such game titles as Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Kinect Star Wars & The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. Brian Trifon and Brian Lee White of Finishing Move Inc. have worked on many of the award winning games including Halo Wars 1 & 2.

The following interview questions for the Cozmo music team were prepared by Michael Sweet’s advanced interactive video game scoring course at Berklee College of Music. The student composers included Ross Alexander, Dominic Delore, Kaela Fanelli,Timothy Przybylinski, and Ian Silver.

As an introduction to Cozmo, and to help acquaint you with some of the audio aspects of Cozmo, we’ve included the music and sound diary post from the Cozmo development team below:

Designing a Music System for a VR Shooter (ROM: Extraction)

Designing a Music System for a VR Shooter (ROM: Extraction)

Introduction – About ROM: Extraction ROM: Extraction is an arcade-like shooter for VR set in a fictional futuristic world that has you taking on the role of an extraction specialist. As a soldier assigned to harvest little orbs harnessing immense amounts of...

NEWS: Indiecade Awards 2016

NEWS: Indiecade Awards 2016


Complete List of Winners

Rand Miller (pictured above receiving award), creator of Myst recognized with the 2016 Trailblazer Award for his accomplishments and contributions to gaming.

LOS ANGELES—OCTOBER 17 – IndieCade, the premier international festival of independent games, honored the winners of the 2016 IndieCade Awards at an event last night at the Norris Theater on the campus of the University of Southern California.

The IndieCade Festival has distinguished itself for providing a platform for identifying the best, brightest and most inspired independent games in the world. This year’s festival was held on the campus of The School of Cinematic Arts at USC in downtown Los Angeles.

“The IndieCade Festival is a celebration of the innovation and creativity that distinguishes the world of indie gaming,” said Stephanie Barish, Indiecade’s chief executive officer, “Independent developers are essential for the progress and advances of the larger game industry and we’re proud to provide a home that celebrates and honors their talent, dedication and important works.”

Soundstage Wins Audio Design Award

One of the most interesting Audio VR projects to come around is this year’s Audio Design Award winner, Soundstage. You can learn more about them at their website: Soundstage VR. For a complete list of all winners and links to the games, head over here.

Soundstage VR – The First VR Synth
Disasterpiece’s Score Propels Hyperlight Drifter to the Jury Choice Award

Disasterpiece’s far out score for Hyperlight Drifter helped the game win Jury Choice Award. For a more in depth story behind the music, check out Level with Emily Reese’s interview of Disasterpiece here.

Interview with Dr. Seth Horowitz- Auditory Neuroscientist

Interview with Dr. Seth Horowitz- Auditory Neuroscientist

  Introduction I have always been fascinated with the neuroscience behind our craft – making music and sounds for games.  To really tell a story with music and sound,  I believe we need to have a great curiosity about this subject.  At Designing Music NOW,...

Modulation Tips for Composers Part 2 of 3: 2nd Degree of Kinship

Modulation Tips for Composers Part 2 of 3: 2nd Degree of Kinship


In the first article of this 3 part series “Modulation Tips for Composers”, we discussed modulating to closely related keys (keys derived from the initial key’s set of diatonic triads). This key relationship is referred to as being on the “first degree of kinship”.

In part 2 we will discuss modulating to keys that are not derived from diatonic triads of the initial key, but are still within 5 “signs of difference”:

“Signs of Difference”

“Signs of difference” means the number of changing accidentals between two key signatures. For example, the keys of C major (no accidentals) and D major (2 sharps) would be said to have 2 signs of difference. The keys of Gb major (6 flats) and A major (3 sharps) would be considered to have 9 signs of difference and would not be a 2nd degree key relationship.

Throughout this article, I will use the abbreviation S.O.D. to refer to “signs of difference”. Let’s further break down what constitutes a 2nd degree key relationship:

Second Degree of Kinship

Any given key has exactly 12 keys that are said the be in second-degree relation. The process of finding these 12 keys is dependent on whether you are modulating from a major key or minor key.

Major Key Modulations

Each major key has 8 major keys plus 4 minor keys in second-degree relation. The major keys can be found following this rule: 4 keys are situated above the given major ascending by half steps in the range of a major 3rd, and 4 more major keys below the given major, descending by half-step in the range of a major 3rd.

ORCHESTRAL REVIEW SERIES – Solid State Symphony by Indiginus

ORCHESTRAL REVIEW SERIES – Solid State Symphony by Indiginus

Introduction For the price of a video game, you can now have a full orchestra in the palm of your hand.  Well, at least on your laptop.  This Kontakt instrument is mind blowing, and not only for the great sound and amazing features, but also for the impossibly low...

Modulation Techniques for Composers Part 1 of 3: The First Degree of Kinship

Modulation Techniques for Composers Part 1 of 3: The First Degree of Kinship

Most popular classical harmony books that I’ve read barely scratch the surface when discussing modulation, which can make it seem like a “dark art” even to experienced composers. This 3-part series will attempt to demystify the subject by breaking down a dogmatic method of modulation developed many years ago at the Moscow Conservatory.

Let’s jump right in to it!

(I’ll assume that you have at least an intermediate understanding of classical harmony for the entirety of the series)

All key centers in Western tonal music can be said to relate to one another in one of three ways, which are referred to as “degree’s of kinship” (1st degree of kinship, 2nd degree of kinship, and 3rd degree of kinship). This post will discuss what constitutes a key relationship as on the “1st degree of kinship”, and it’s corresponding modulation procedure.

Let’s define what constitutes a “first degree” key relationship:

Keys that relate on the first degree of kinship are all diatonically related keys. “Diatonic keys” are derived from the diatonic triads of any given key (omitting diminished triads due to the unstable 5th). Keys derived from diatonic triads will share many common tones with the “home key” (key we are modulating from), which will make our modulation sound smooth and convincing. More common tones between two keys means the listener will be less likely to notice an abrupt change in the music.

In addition to diatonically related keys, the keys derived from iv minor* (in any given major key) and V major** (in any given minor key) are also said to be in first degree relation to their respective “home keys”. These two keys are included as non-diatonic exceptions due to their extremely common use; even though they technically contain non-diatonic notes, they don’t sound too foreign to “western ears”.


Keys that are in First Degree of Kinship to C major:

D minor (ii), E minor (iii), F major (IV) and F minor (iv minor)*, G major (V), and A minor (vi)

(diminished chords omitted due to unstable 5th)

Modulating from C major to D minor, E minor, F major, F minor, G major, or A minor would be considered a first degree modulation.