First off, for those who missed it on Facebook and Twitter - Miracle of Sound is going monthly from now on. The reasons are that I was finding it too hard to consistently come up with fresh and interesting ideas in such a short timeframe. I admit I somewhat over-estimated the limits of my abilities when I decided on a fortnightly release schedule. Having four weeks between songs should make each one better - I'd rather do 12 amazing songs for you guys than 24 that didn't get enough time to hit their full potential. Or to put it simply, quality over quantity.
This month's two songs are about subject matter that could barely be any more different on the surface. One is a gargantuan, hype-filled box office smashing goliath, while the other is a little low budget gem that earned its rightful acclaim through word of mouth and its beautiful presentation and soundtrack. But at the core of both these stories is a lone, morally conflicted protagonist who is searching for some sense in a chaotic world by trying to right its wrongs. Hence they were both easy to draw inspiration from.
I'm just going to answer one question this month as it was a very interesting one with quite a long answer.
In composing, what usually comes to you first? Is it a melody, rhythm, or lyric/phrase snippet and how do you grow your composition from that seed? And since you're composing on a deadline, how much does that impact your creative spark if at all?
My method of composing is, to use a very technical term: complete fucking chaos. I might come up with a verse or just a riff, start playing around with drum patterns, go and record some guitar parts, write the bridge, go away and hum melodies to myself during dinner (or in bed when I should be sleeping) until I find the right one. A lot of the composing happens in my head - I'm singing the melodies and imagining the chords and backing instruments underneath them. No two songs are written the same way apart from a rare few where I sit down with a guitar and a sheet of paper ("Legends of the Frost" and "Wasteland Soul" were both written this way).
The chorus is always, without fail, the most difficult melody and chord sequence to come up with as it is the part that you want people to go away singing. It is not easy to always come up with something that a) straddles a fine line between catchy and cheesy and b) is not too similar to other artists' songs. I find the best choruses are the ones that just pop into your head one day, without having to actually write it. They just kind of happen. "Gordon Freeman Saved My Life" and "Shooter Guy" are two perfect examples of this "stroke of luck"-style song writing.
Lyrics take the longest for me to actually write; the instrumentation usually happens very quickly. I'll usually go through many, many versions of each song, as poor Justin knows well - he gets sent anything between 2 and 10 versions, which is sometimes only half of what I have done. I am terrible at finishing songs - I'll think it's finally done, send it to him then go and make changes and tweaks to it again and again. I obsess over them like crazy and many nights are spent not sleeping due to the compulsion to get the song right. I literally can't stop thinking about it until it's done - something I guess a lot of gamers can relate to. I'm glad I have a creative outlet for this sometimes overly obsessive personality.
As for the deadline, yes, it affects creativity in a big way, hence why we switched it up to monthly from now on. I hope next month's song shows what a difference it makes when I have time to try lots of ideas.