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Interview

John Paul Hayward p3

Composer John Paul Hayward talks about the challenges of creating a soundtrack for a film that doesn’t exist…

RV: What are the main difficulties in arranging a computer game soundtrack to a film score for a film that doesn’t exist?

JPH: The biggest challenge when working with video game music for me is finding ways to extend and develop the music into an interesting two to three minute track. Music for video games has come a long way in recent years, but older games were all designed around “loopable” tracks. Pieces are usually short and end with some sort of transition so that the music can start over (or loop) without the player noticing.
In some ways writing for a film that doesn’t exist is easier than if I were writing to an actual picture. There’s a lot of freedom to really craft each scene the way you see it in your head, or to set the tone of the overall film in any way you feel inspired.
On the flip side, the same exact things that make it easier are what make it more difficult. You have no director telling you how to channel the emotion of a track and there’s no actual picture to write to, so you’re left with trying to create a movie in your head and then writing music for it. I feel like with projects like these it’s really important to understand the source material so that even when you’re putting your own spin on things you’re also paying the proper respect to the original source material. At least that’s what I tried to do with Cross Symphonic.

RV: What is it that appeals to you the most about the composers you’ve covered? Like Yasunori Mitsuda in To Far Away Times and Chrono Cross. And Nobuo Uematsu with Final Fantasy. Or Jeremy Soule with The Elder Scrolls? Do they all have something in common that grabs you?

JPH: Actually, I’ve never covered Jeremy Soule. My piece for Elder Scrolls was an original that I wrote as a scoring exercise to the trailer for Elder Scrolls Online.
What attracts me to Mitsuda’s and Uematu’s music in general is melody. Both composers are extremely different in compositional style, yet both focus on strong and poignant melodies. I think that melodies are often downplayed or overlooked in a lot of modern music in favor of complicated orchestration, or a focus more on ambient sound design, but when you listen to either of these composers’ music you will find yourself humming a tune as you walk away. Their music is responsible for the emotion, connection, and experience in many of my favorite games.

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