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Q&A with Jared Emerson-Johnson, Friday!

posted by nikasaur on - last edited - Viewed by 4K 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
  • @LuigiHann said: Have you guys thought about putting some of your crazy musical numbers on Rock Band Network? Jokey songs and nerd-injoke songs seem to do reasonable well there, with Jonathan Coulton and Flight of the Conchords near the top, and a lot of hype surrounding acts like Ron Wasserman (who did the Power Rangers theme song) and Midnight Riders (a fictional band from within the game Left 4 Dead 2). Can't think of a specific song to suggest, but I know people would also get excited about jazz. I feel like some Sam and Max stuff would fit right in.

    That thought did occur to me awhile back, but I haven't had a free moment to look into it at all. I'd certainly be happy if any or all of those tunes showed up on the Rock Band Network at some point down the line.

  • @thatdude98 said: Hey Jared, I thought of a couple more questions, if you'll be so kind. :D

    1. So, I was kinda wondering... which comes first when designing a scene for a game? What I mean is, what does Telltale do first? The music for the scene, or the scene itself? Do they design the scene around the composition or... which is easier?

    2. Wanna hear my completely unprofessional attempts at music?

    3. Can he have a cookie? ------> :guybrush:

    1. The design process generally starts long before I am called in to start the music. By the time they bring me in to talk about the musical needs of an episode, the designers and directors usually have a fairly detailed sense of how they want the vibe of a given scene to feel.

    The one big exception to this general rule has been the musical numbers and a small handful of the credits sequences, which tend to be timed out specifically to the music. I think the question of which is easier depends on who you ask :). I certainly like having some kind of existing reference before I get going, so I know what I'm scoring. If you asked the chore artists, they might have a somewhat equal and opposite take on the matter.

    2. Sure, post 'em!

    3. No, no he may not.

  • @PressidentMax said: Jarred, I loved the previous games tracks, I have Season 1 on DVD PC from amazon and the season 1 soundtrack is with it! Is there any music you can reveal? If not then can you reveal some of the music's titles?

    Alas no, I am sworn to secrecy. It's nearly over, though, at this point, so all shall be reveled before too much longer!

  • @Nintendo Boy1 said: I have a question:

    1. How do you think up the music for your songs?

    It depends a lot on the specific cue in question. The most important starting place is what sort of emotional response we want to elicit from the listener in a given sequence. That usually has the biggest effect on where I start for any given piece.

    To get a bit more technical: I tend to be a harmonic-structure-first type of guy, more than a melodic-material-first guy. Most of the composers I know tend to be one or the other (and there are also those whose brains allow them to develop both concurrently). My first step is usually working out what sort of harmonic foundation I want a piece to have, and I build the melodies and themes on top of that.

  • @Iron Curtain said: Jared:

    "Radical" from Sam & Max: Chariots of the Dogs is my favorite piece from you, because it really sounds totally 80's to the max! Did you play all the instruments, or did you have session musicians play the guitars and sax?

    The guitars are rockingly played by the inimitable Bill Storkson, and the saxophones are all played by the one and only Jordan Wardlaw

  • @Strong Max said:
    Do you fiddle around until you find a nice-sounding melody and perfect it from there, or do you use another composittion method?

    I kind of answered this a few questions up, but I tend to start with harmonic structure, and build up from there. That said, it's a lot of fun to craft a new harmonic underpinning, and to adapt and overlay a familiar theme on top, to give it a new flavor.

  • @rct2guy said: I love your music in-game. It's awesome. I was curious, how much of the music in this season was recorded with real instruments, compared to the past two seasons?

    Thanks! It's roughly the same amount of live vs. sampled. The big change this year is that we added live trombones to the mix, so a lot of the material that would have otherwise gone to into the trumpets was able to be spread out (and down) into the trombones; so, I'd say the overall sound is richer this time around.

    In terms of actual tracks recorded, though, it's more or less on par with the previous seasons.

  • @Tjibbbe said: I don't know if anyone will read this now that the game is released, but I just wanted to congratulate Jared. The music in 301 is amazing. I particularly like the way the music warps into a twisted version of itself in Max's mind. Is it just me or does the music change depending on the way you move the camera in Max-mode? That's some great sound design right there.

    Needless to say, this game needs a soundtrack release.

    You are totally correct, it does do awesome things as you move the camera.

    Credit for that actually goes to the one and only Andrew Langley, one of the lead programmers for the season, and a formidable audio ally! He rules.

  • Oh, now I want to ask a question....About how many tracks did you record for the whole season more or less than seasons 1&2?

  • @Icedhope said: Oh, now I want to ask a question....About how many tracks did you record for the whole season more or less than 1&2?

    Going by actual numbers of cues, it's quite a bit more in season three—I'd say around two times as many. Episodes in seasons one and two generally had 4-6 new live environment cues. Episodes in season three were more in the 8-12 range.

    This was mostly because of the way the environments tended to tonally change over the course of the episodes in season three (whereas environments in the first two seasons tended to have a similar vibe across the entire episode's arc).

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