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A Musing on Muses

October 30, 2009

Writers’ block happens to all artists at one point or another.  Unfortunately for artists, game development deadlines don’t care one bit about writers’ block and will march towards you unendingly whether you’re writing or not.  I had a very brief spell of writers’ block when I was writing the score for Lucidity.  I’d written about 30 minutes of music at that point and had pulled from a vast majority of inspirations so far – “Byssan Lull,” late Romantic-era classical composers, trip-hop, etc.  One afternoon in May, I sat down to start a new piece and just found myself staring at a blank session file without any ideas of where to begin.

Perhaps a Rainforest Walk?

At least Sofi doesn't have to cope with email...

One of the perils of game development is that you almost never have long stretches of uninterupted time to simply create.   Email, meetings, phone calls, meetings, and email all get in the way on a regular – and regularly unpredictable – basis.  Just when you start getting somewhere with a new piece of work, bureaucracy will intrude and pull you away just long enough to break the flow you were just enjoying.

Because I don’t have the luxury of not writing if I get stuck, I’ve come up with a handful of  little tricks to try and kickstart my imagination in those times of need.  Viewing concept art, driving to work without listening to the radio, singing in the shower – all of these can help.  Perhaps one of the best methods is to simply step away from my computer, take a walk, and try not to think about writing anything.  More often than not, I’ll find myself humming melodies or beat-boxing rhythms before I make it back to my desk.

That one afternoon in May, though, none of my tricks were working.  I banged out some material for a couple of hours, and right before I headed home, listened back to it all only to realize it was a dead-end.  That night, when I explained to my wife the creative block I was having, she said nonchalantly:

“Write something with harp and saxophone.”

And that was it.  The pairing was so unusual that it immediately got my brain thinking about the possibilities.  When I got into work the next day, the track flew together quickly and became one of my favorite tracks in the entire score.  Named “Invasion of the Sea,” the final track begins with a quartet of saxophones playing cluster chords overtop of low, plucked harp notes.  Probably not what my wife had in mind, but inspiration is funny that way.  You never know where it’s going to lead you.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2009 3:23 pm

    Nice story! by the way, it would be awesome to have more tracks from the game. I really like Lucidity’s music!

    • Ian permalink
      November 11, 2009 5:26 pm

      I’d definitely buy the soundtrack if it was on iTunes or a similar music store, it was probably one of the best game soundtracks I’ve heard in a while.

  2. Jesse permalink
    November 11, 2009 6:07 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, guys. I’ll be sure to mention your soundtrack requests up the chain of command.

  3. November 30, 2009 8:12 am

    Nice story! I love the music of the game.

  4. Dookster permalink
    March 15, 2010 10:33 pm

    Any word on how this is coming? I really want the soundtrack.

  5. July 23, 2010 10:16 am

    Yeah, me too. The MI2:SE soundtrack has made me crave more of Jesse’s interesting ways of blending musical styles. I want the finest this man has to offer, and I want them here, and I want them now. (Yes, I just watched Withnail & I a few minutes ago, how strange of you to ask.)

    No, seriously, I love the guy’s work so please let us have ’em? And maybe you could lift the veil on Handsome Halibut a little?

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