Meurig Llŷr Jenkins Music Portfolio

Composer, Musician, Conductor

Send in the Troop (Shrooms Soundtrack)

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve finished the Shrooms soundtrack, and I’ve taken time away from it to take a break from scoring for a game and to do some arrangements and concert music.

It was a fun soundtrack to write, although I was on a very limited time as I got the job by a fair amount of luck having sent an e-mail to Snowball Software regarding his posting of requiring music weeks after.  Thankfully, he liked what I’d written so it didn’t take much convincing afterwards to take me on completely.

Writing for a puzzle game is a bit of a strange one in my mind, just because, really, there’s not much music that doesn’t fit with a puzzle game.  When talking with Jim about what style of music, given the odd-ball nature of the theme of the game (a mushroom going around collecting cans of beer in a cave), it was pretty hard to pin-point what was needed.  So we decided we’d go for a soundtrack with instrumentation that we both liked, which involved a lot of guitars and a drum kit across the board.  I decided that my task was to vary the music as much as I could using just these instruments and anything else I thought would fit on top.

The result was a pretty cool, dark themed soundtrack.  I would say there was only one track I thought might not fit, but we went with it anyway – Amanita Phalloides (Death Mushroom for those of us less Latin-oriented), just because it was probably a little too high-octane given the fast percussion, although I would probably say it’s one of my favourites.

For the main menu I went with a theme and variation style, although conversely that has the piano centralizing everything, and not the guitars, but I still felt it worked well.  It went through a few changes, especially the opening and also the tempo, but hopefully at the end of the day it demonstrates a level of absurdity that the game’s theme has.

The track for the storyboard is also quite cool, it’s in an 11/8 time signature, and the final bar goes into 14/8 before it loops back around, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

Please do listen to the Soundtrack.  I’m now on the search for more work.  I hope I get lucky again.

Not That Late to the Party

So, in a weird turn of events, I’m actually on board with a computer game project that has, in the last hour, gone live on Kickstarter.

You can view the kickstarter here.

I’m fairly proud of it, although the music was done in a bit of a rush, admittedly.  Biggest challenges was that on the one hand, I wanted to show the duality of the character’s predicament – she is in a shit position, but has the oppertunity to help the revolutionists.  On the other, there is a comedic element to the game from my understanding of the initial pitch.  On the third and invisible hand, it’s the early 90’s, Estonians are big into their Singing Revolution at this point.  And so the music itself is split into 3 distinct sections.

Given that it was more of a demo track to see if they would be keen to hire me, I was on short time.  The “Estonian instrument” is usually attributed to the accordion, so I wanted that to be a connecting instrument throughout, as well as acoustic guitar, but given the time period I opted for the electric guitar.  There are also use of Balalaikas, a common Russian instrument, which I hoped would lend itself to the Russian aspect of the game.  I think I may have overused the wet levels in the percussion at the beginning and end, but I wanted to emulate that late 80’s/early 90’s pop feel as best I could.

Second part of the track is traditional Eastern Oom-Pah style with solos from orchestral instruments then being passed over to the accordion, and I think it worked pretty well, especially when the bridge enters the second time around with the added 3rds on the accordion part.

Third part of the track is supposed to represent the Singing Revolution aspect, with the percussion’s wet levels brought back up (this is a fairly unorthodox method of doing things, but I was digging what was going on at the time), and heavy percussion which is supposed to mark the marching/unity of the uprising, and, obviously, singing.  The guitar pattern for this section was borrowed from an Estonian rock song of the era, just in order to root the track into its time period a bit more.

Anyway, I’m really proud of myself that I’m now in the works to have this game to my name.  I’m really excited for it, and as always if it were not for my friends/family, I don’t think I could have pushed myself to this point.  Hopefully people will appreciate the music, and the soundtrack will be good enough for people to want to listen to on its own merit!

The Start to an RPG Original Soundtrack

So, it’s sort of amazing, the idea of “Networking”, that you make contacts that, hopefully, down the line someone will remember you and get you some employment and all that kind of stuff.

Annoyingly, that has never happened for me.  Not in that way anyway.  What seems to happen is that friends from way-back-when end up getting in touch, not those that I meet in one-off chance encounter.

Someone from my old gaming days in Dystopia kind of re-appeared in my world, who, back in the day, I was at odds with a lot (rival team, that game was pretty cut-throat!), and he has been getting into game development stuff.  After chatting to him for a few weeks, we decided on trying to make a simple RPG together.  So we’ve started planning the game out, what it’s about, the characters’ roles, the simple stuff, and not in too great a detail yet (he’s been finishing up another project, called Unrest with Pyrodactyl Games), and I’m writing the music for it.

Whether it ends up working or not is actually completely beside the point – the fact I have a project to work on, rather than writing random tracks, is sort of a relief – I am the kind of person that needs a bit of direction, otherwise the music I write feels a little directionless to me.  Even though, currently, the creative process on my part is a little backwards (music is being written before I’m seeing the game, rather than the other way around), I know what emotions we’re going for, and I can edit these tracks later on, and I can even scrap entire tracks if necessary (that is to say, I can just put it on the back-burner for another project).

So onto the actual music – this track is the opening track to the game, and currently it’s to be used as an opening cinematic to the game.  What I’m trying to get across here is the main character’s isolation, which is represented by the Synth melody.  At the moment, the idea is to represent the characters that are involved in the game by different synth sounds, so here, you are introduced to what the Hero’s sound is like.  I’m hoping to use that for other tracks then – if there’s something going on that emotionally involves the character, then I want the Hero’s sound to be heard, for example: If he’s fighting a boss, then you will hear that synth instrument in the music; if he’s just hanging around in a level, then you either won’t hear it in the background music or it’ll make a very small appearance.

Everything else is orchestral – I’m hoping this will make “character” instruments stand out more.  The instruments here represent the other people in his life that are causing him struggle, and as the melody gets repeated, you slowly lose the melody in amongst the other people.  He eventually breaks free from all this, hence the return to the melody.  To give a nice air of loneliness and to show that he’s distanced himself from everything, I’ve taken the tune up an octave and took the piano part down an octave and removed the more melodious part of the piano from the section.

I hope that was interesting enough – I am endeavoring to update this blog every Thursday now, thanks to the advice of a Mr. Jack Standbridge (check out his blog at http://jackstandbridge.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/saturday/ ) – it won’t necessarily be music from the game, although that’s what I will be primarily working on, and more importantly, I will continue to be on the lookout for paid compositional work!  But it’s time for some consistency now.

Thanks for reading!

It’s a little Pastiche

So I got asked to write a one minute piece of music for the Bangor University Students’ Union, that was in the style of Ground Force.

Luckily, being a Brass Bander and all that, I was quite accustomed to the music of Ground Force.  However, this was the first time that I’ve been confronted with the idea of writing a piece of music “like that famous one”.  And I had to do it in about 2 days flat.

I think I managed OK in the end.  I played the piece over and over (not the trio bit, as I don’t think many people realize there’s a mid section with a horn solo in there!) to try and figure out what I could do.  Simply put, I went for the following things:

1)  Imitate the chord structure, roughly (It enters a minor key briefly in every 8 bar phrase)
2)  Imitate the melody line’s “feel” – that being bright and spunky, some off-beat parts for some variance, the range in which the melody moves etc.3)  Simple percussion line for the groundwork

But I also added bits in of my own.  I like having other instruments take over bits in their own style (Trombone comes in and does gliss things over parts, I really like that), and I decided to give it a fanfare opening and close, which luckily turned out well in the video.

I have also learned a bit from it.  My orchestration could have used tweaking, there is actually a horn solo in there which I wrote a bit too high and is lost in the amount of instruments playing, as well as I could have made the bass trombone a bit more interesting!  However, I think I could’ve fixed that had there been more time to practice, hear it played by real players before actually making a recording – but such is life!

The best thing is, I know I can do Pastiche music relatively competently, even in a short amount of time!  Hurray for learning!

Here is the video!

Trombone Trio “Arts” project

So, in the spirit of trying to regularly post – about 6 months ago I was commissioned to write a piece for an Arts project to raise the profile of a Pottery yard in Gladstone. This was an incredibly difficult task in the end, given that I ended up getting a new job, the event was miles away and I had to record two of the lines in a studio to save money on hiring live musicians.

The end product was OK, I think. There was apparently nothing but positive feedback about the piece.

The piece was played in a Kiln called “Big Bertha”, with the audience just outside of the kiln, following some dancers around as they danced to it. If I ever get a hold of any footage of them dancing, I will certainly post it on here!

I did, however, manage to get a quick live recording of the piece. There were some duff notes, but I only had one chance to get it right. To hear a (relatively) flawless version, listen to the one on Soundcloud (click the thing above, or go to the “Portfolio” page and find it in there).

Here’s the video of me playing the piece in Big Bertha.