7 Grand Steps
7 Grand Steps was just recently released by Mousechief. It is a creative and unique game that was challenging and exciting to compose for. Harmonically the music is written in my preferred modal style (ORC Vengeance is also a modally based soundtrack). The color of the music is based less on successions of chords and much more on the color of the modes chosen. As an example we start with the Copper Age laborer track (music changes as the player moves up in class -- laborer, artisan, noble class, royal/ruling class):
The melody is free-form and has a distinctive modal flavor to it. As a laborer track it is based on a clear primary melody and percussion rather than the more contrapuntal melodies present in the artisan and noble tracks. As an example here's the Bronze Age artisan track, an attempt at recreating a small group of ancient musicians. It's an imaginary rather than a strictly historical representation of what the music from that age would sound like.
These two tracks hopefully highlight the great importance that the instruments play in communicating the color of the soundtrack (QL Ra was the primary library here). Note especially the 'tuned gongs' in the right channel that serve as a pretty cool and dynamic 'modal bedding' for the track. There is something special that happens when one of the ancient greek modes - used in this soundtrack with abundance -- is used with an ancient instrument.
As the player rises in society, they ultimately come to the ruling class. We made a conscious effort to make this transition an epic one. Up to the ruling class most of the music is primarily based on dynamic solo performances and 'small-ensemble' kind of sound but as you'll be able to hear below, massive, but below you'll hear a massive, slightly subdued orchestral instrumentation change:
Above is a screenshot from the really unique layout of the gameplay (game art by Bill Stoneham). The music functions in-game 'mechanically,' it only plays when the player puts the coin in the slot and the 'wheel of time' turns, at the end of this mechanical move, the music quiets down and the player is free to plot the next move. This kind of set-up allowed me to run free with interesting and intricate melodies and counterpoint. As the final example, here's a fun little event track from the game which plays when our protagonists are making some babies.
Hope you've enjoyed the quick insight into the music! Soundtrack is available on bandcamp.