The Music in "The Night When He Left"
01 - Coagulated Memories
This was just named “Title” for the longest time until I decided that I wanted more pretentious names for my songs. So, I knew that whatever I made at this point would kind of set the entire theme of the songs to come. Like I said in a previous post, piano-music made sense: the person this game involves is a pianist, and there’s a lot of imagery of pianos in the game. So not only did I want the piano to be the focus of the music, I also wanted it to feel like it was mostly playing by itself in a huge vast darkness, kind of like most parts of the game are.
I’m not sure what I can really say about this other than that in the end, I’m quite happy that I feel like it did catch that kind of lonely emptiness that the start of the game is. At first I just wanted the piano, but a friend of mine thought it was sounded a bit bad without anything else, so I did end up adding some violin as well. I was okay with it, because I felt the piano was still the main instrument.
I wanted the very light tones with the right hand because I kind of wanted that a bit piercing feeling to it.
02 - Fluttering Echoes
This song kind of wants to capture the loneliness that can come after a breakup. Just that feeling where everything you had in your life was a twosome, having breakfast together, sleeping next to each other, cooking together... and then suddenly you’re in this vast loneliness all by yourself. So in this one, I tried to simply imitate what I felt to be echoes, which is mostly two notes that repeat themselves but get more and more silent.
03 - Nested Promenade
So this one is supposed to really take you back into the happy memories. This is without a doubt the “happiest” song in this project, and it’s accompanied by the most colorful and vibrant scene in the project as well. It’s that “start of a relationship, butterflies in my stomach”-optimism.
Musically, I think I found myself becoming quite limited with what I was doing. In the two previous songs, the keys I was using for the left-handed base were always just two keys. The two keys themselves changed, but it was always just two keys alternating. So for this one, I made the radical change of making the base-melody four keys. This made a much faster song, which fit the mood quite well.
For the melody itself, I actually start an octave lower at first. Then in the second part, I pretty much do the same right-handed melody, except an octave higher. I kind of felt like it added to the relationship-feeling, almost like there were two parts communicating with each other. I also added a little... like... instant three-note “whirl”, which you can hear at 00:50 in. It has no meaning except I thought it was cool.
04 - Weighted Altitude
I was starting to wonder, did the base-melody always have to be the “darker” tones? As in, did it always have to be on the left-side? Couldn’t it be on the right-handed side and the “lighter” tones? I started experimenting with this and thought I could make it work.
So for the feeling of this song though, I wanted to incorporate the rain that I was using in the scene. I loved making that rain graphically, so I really wanted to weave that into the music as well. And you know, I really did feel that just lightly tapping the lighter keys gave that rainy feeling quite well. So I was quite happy with the “light base melody”. The darker melody was a bit of a struggle though, but I’m quite happy with the end result.
05 - Spent Afternoons
I was in a rut. I was completely stuck. I felt like everything I was doing was either completely out of theme, or it was just bad. I think I was stuck on this for about a month, and I was starting to get frustrated that I wasn’t able to produce any more music.
Then I had a discussion about soundtracks with a friend of mine, unrelated to the game, and we talked about how nice it was sometimes to just hear familiar tones and melodies that you’ve heard previously. Not the exact same, just familiar. And that’s when I finally got rid of my block, and the obvious answer was just there.
So in this one, I kind of decided to “extract” the melody from the first “Coagulated Memories”, and just mix it up a bit. I felt that the amount of extra keys in the base melody however made the song much more “warm”, and not as lonesome as the first song. Technically it’s not my favorite, but I think it’s fine.
I did start another kind of process here though: on the previous songs, I just made sure the tones would fall perfectly after I was unable to do the rhythm correctly, but a friend of mine who’s a musician said it just felt very stale and cold, and that I should let the song fall a bit off-rhythm to make it more natural. So even though my keys are sometimes way more off-rhythm than they should be, I adjusted them to not be perfect, but closer to where they would be.
06 - Father Time’s Lullaby
This is my absolute favorite song. I’m not even sure I could tell you why, I think I just like that it has a simple base melody like the other ones, but it’s incorporating the “tipping” sound of the “Weighted Altitude” song, but also the echo-effect of “Fluttering Echoes”. Since this scene is about someone walking away, I kind of felt like it reflected some kind of walking sound.
If I’m not mistaken, I think this song actually uses three different melodies playing at the same time sometimes. I think what I also like about this one is that it’s almost like the “Nested Promenade” melody where there are two melodies communicating, except that instead of them being separate, they kind of play at the same time and synchronize.
The only thing I don’t like is the ending as a solo-song like this, however, the scene that’s using it is a fixed time, so you don’t really get there.
07 - Cloudy Smile
The final song of the project. For this one I really just wanted it to almost be an ode to the entire project itself, so it has two base-melodies playing that’s very reminiscent of the first “Coagulated Memories”, except I really wanted this one to feel more happy.
I think what kind of makes this one stands out is that it kind of takes what I liked about the first song, and evolved it a bit further. So in the first song, there are two melodies playing: one with the left hand, one with the right hand. In this one, there are four melodies playing: two base-melodies, and then there are two “higher notes”-melodies. Like “Father Time’s Lullaby”, I think the two higher-note melodies kind of synchronize but they tell the same story this time. In the middle, I’m also using the same kind of melody as “Fluttering Echoes”, which I thought was a nice was of throw-back to the earlier stages.
I think it’s sad that I couldn’t get the dynamic you can otherwise get if you’re a “real” pianist, since I was always forced to split the melodies instead of playing them at the same time. But like I’ve talked about before, I somewhere had to accept my limitations as well. And I also had to be proud that I was able to take something I didn’t really know much about at all, and was able to make something that I think fit well into the final product.
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