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Music Design Is Composition: Interactive Music in 'Back 4 Blood'

Martin Stig Andersen  (Composer & Audio Director, Independent)

Location: Room 3002, West Hall

Date: Friday, March 24

Time: 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass, Audio Pass

Topic: Audio

Format: Lecture

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

Which comes first: composition or music design? Or are the two really separable?

Using Turtle Rock Studios' co-op zombie shooter Back 4 Blood as a case study, Composer and Game Audio Specialist Martin Stig Andersen discusses the relationship between music design and composition in the creative process, and delves into the pros and cons of putting one of the two in a leading role in the context of a fast-paced, dynamic first person shooter.

The discussion is supported by a deep dive into the game's modular music system, where hundreds of tiny music assets are stitched together, layered and modulated on the fly, driven by gameplay information relevant for the player's survival. Martin goes on to reflect on the practical, workflow related but also mindset obstacles he faces in his pursuit to disregard the divide between composition and music design.


Attendees will gain insight into the compositional and design process behind the adaptive music system in Back 4 Blood, and how to create a responsive and gameplay information-carrying score. For transparency, the music implementation in Wwise is demonstrated.

Intended Audience

This is for anyone with experience in game audio, including a basic understanding of game audio middleware, and for those interested in growing synergy between composition and music design, or ultimately between score and game.