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Q&A with Jared Emerson-Johnson, Friday!

posted by nikasaur on - last edited - Viewed by 3.2K users

Hear ye hear ye, Jared is coming to the forums to answer some of your music and sound related questions! Pop in to hear the answers on Friday the 2nd from 10am to 11am PST (he chose this specifically so Europeans can be awake for it, what a guy!)

Let me tell you- Jared is a superhero. He sets the tone of the world with ease, he knocks out sound effects with a single blow, he makes what we do sound AMAZING. It's a fact that Telltale sometimes hires super-human automatons, and investigations as to Jared's actual humanity are pending. Some people are just too talented.

(Fun fact: he's also super-skilled at Beatles Rock Band.)

We're open for questioning, so load 'em up and keep him busy.

182 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @Cosplaybunny said: My favorite Sam and Max song is Just You And Me (And Ted E. Bear), it cracks me up every time I listen to it. When working on songs like this do you go at it alone or do you work with the Sam and Max creative team? How did this song come about?

    Generally I'll get a set of lyrics from the writers, and then I just jump right in and write it (sometimes making a few word adjustments here and there, but usually just setting the texts they get me).

  • @SamWagner said: Any songs / sounds / music that you liked that didn't make it into the actual games?

    Occasionally I'll write something, or start something, and it just doesn't quite go in the direction I was intending, so I'll usually set it aside. More often than not I'll end up finding a spot for it later in the season, though, and so I'll end up using it somewhere (in a cutscene, etc). Right now I think I have two sketches that are currently orphans, but I'm sure they'll find a home before too long.

    An example of this: the track that ended up working out so well for the sewers in 205 was originally begun for an earlier episode...I'll let you all speculate as to which.

  • @StonkBad said: When you have to write background music for a certain place, how much do the devs tell you about the place? Do they show you something like a description or concept art?

    I try to get as much information as possible. Generally, there is some detailed description from the designers, and usually some sort of half-done environment to look at, so I usually have a pretty solid idea of how it should feel.

  • @Astro Gnocci said: Not sure how to phrase it...
    But basically how do you go about writing a theme ?
    Do you start with the actual melody, or with some cliché lines to fit the mood needed, or just play around until you find something that clicks ?
    I always thought instrumental music was much harder than just adding some fancy stuff to an actual song. It's really hard to come up with a good theme or melody, and even more when doing "ambience music", having to convey a certain mood or emotion...
    Any insight on your overall musical life ?
    Also, what is/are your favourite instrument(s) to noodle with ?

    Have you ever considered writing a "max" hard rock song (i mean, a song max would write, complete with hyperkinetic lyrics and rabitty guitar solos - or vice versa) ?

    Thanks a lot for the thread anyway. The "euro-friendly" timing is a nice touch, too ;)

    A lot of different composers work in different ways, and for me it sort of depends on the style and purpose of the cue in question. More often than not, though, I actually start with the harmonic progressions, since I feel like that has a bigger influence on the overall emotional/tonal feel of a piece of music. That's really just my own personal process preference, though.

    My most comfortable instrument is the violin, but I also spend a lot of time with the guitar and piano. I probably do most of my composition "working it out" on the piano, just because it's the easiest instrument for me to play multiple voices.

    Heh, so far I have not made any plans for a Max hard rock song, but hey...you never know what's coming down the road.

  • @Weeblerjake said: Some simple questions.
    Did you play an(y) instrument(s) when you were a kid?
    Also, did you always want to be a composer?

    And one harder one.
    I'm sort of interested in composing. I like to make up songs on the piano and whatnot. What do you think I should do?

    Some of these were answered earlier, but I'll repeat them here.

    Yup, I played the violin for years and years. I also played a little clarinet in grade school, but only for a couple years. I picked up the piano and guitar in high school, and I studied voice at that time, as well.

    I actually didn't always have my heart set on composition. In fact, I came to it rather late in my musical studies. I always had an interest in it, but it wasn't until college, after taking a pretty heavy load of theory courses, that I started writing. It only took a couple months for it to become my primary interest, though, and it's been that way ever since.

    My main advice would be: go for it! Have as much fun, and try as many things as you can. I do think some kind of background in tonal theory at some point is a pretty critical step if you're interested in genre composition, but more important than anything is just doing the work, and doing it regularly. The more you write, the easier it'll be, and the more fun.

  • @Hyperkinetic_Martian said: Hey Jared! Two questions:

    What kind of program(s) do you use to edit and compile the music, voices, and sound effects (or even compose)?

    How long does it usually take to get all the sound work done for a single episode?

    Some of this was answered earlier in some of the previous posts, but I use Digital Performer, Pro Tools, Bias Peak, Sibelius, and occasionally Cubase.

    Again, it depends on the schedule for a given episode (and the side of the audio order), but the music generally takes 4-6 weeks per episode. Sound is about the same, with a big push at the end. Voice generally is recorded in 1-2 weeks, with a set of pickups for another half week or so. It all depends on the amount of content, and the crunch of the schedule, though.

  • @Icedhope said: Actually I only have one question wich is this. When writing your music for any game what inspires you the most? Also what are the steps to writing masterpieces?

    Hahah...I have yet to work out the steps to writing masterpieces, but if any of you have any leads, please pass them along!

    I think the most inspiring part of the process is talking with the designers and getting their visions of the story into my head.

  • @leonardo8 said: Hello Jared,
    First of all, I'd like to thank you for all the wonderful music in previous Sam & Max seasons. I have three questions:
    1) Who are your three favourite jazz musicians and why?
    2) Do you prefer traditional or modern jazz?
    3) Are all the solos in your jazz pieces set or do you allow improvisation?

    Boy, these are the toughest questions, always, since my interests shift so much. I think I'll refer to the list I gave here: http://talesofmi.net/?p=777

    In the question of trad. vs. modern jazz, it really depends on the mood I'm in. I think both have a ton to offer. I probably listen to them about equally, though.

    The solos are entirely improvised by the players. I wouldn't have it any other way, they're the masters of their instruments, and nothing I could write would have the same flow as we get from just firing up a mic and letting them go wild.

  • @snotsnit said: I want to know if the Season 3 will have more long Jazz songs.

    Also, I really liked the Consecutive Office song, and I was wondering why you decided to make that specific song an 8 minute long jazz ensemble?

    That one worked out that way because there were 2 versions of the tune, one for when max is president, and one for before—plus, there were versions of the forms that had solos, and versions that didn't. So it's really a 2 minute form, repeated 4 times, in all of those different incarnations...if that makes sense.

    It's safe to say there will be other tracks along those lines for the season 3 soundtrack!

  • @thatdude98 said: I loved your work on TMI, Jared. You're also great at being a crazed arcade machine.
    :D

    Anyway, I'm thinking about a career in computer music. I'm pretty handy with Abelton Live, and I wanted to know if you had any advice for me?

    I don't actually have much experience with Abelton, but my general advise for aspiring composers of any kind is to stick to it, and to keep writing, as much and as often as possible.

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