Composing the Music for The Sleeping Prince

  • 1
  • October 3, 2014
Composing the Music in The Sleeping Prince

The soundtrack of The Sleeping Prince is much more than enjoyable background music as you adventure through the kingdom to defeat Sydney Slime. Each piece is just as important as the characters and settings themselves.

We invited the game’s composer, Barry Dowsett of Soundrangers, to write about the process of creating the motifs and music used in-game.

It was decided early on in the development of the The Sleeping Prince score that we’d establish several melodic kernels, or ‘motifs’ to represent the central characters in the game: Prince Perilous and Sydney Slime. The music in each level would then feature music written using these motifs, to represent the presence of either character during gameplay. The team and I also decided that we’d incorporate different musical moods and textures to represent the different areas of gameplay: exploration, battle, and the puzzle adventures.

From the beginning, it was important to us that the Prince Perilous motif be heavily melodic, memorable and help sonically establish the game during its opening title screen. The in-game music would also periodically reference this theme, so it was essential to have both the Prince and the Slime motif clearly established prior to writing any of the music.

To begin the composition process, I sat down and began developing the central motif for each character, composing a 4 bar musical phrase that exemplifies the demeanor of each:

Prince Perilous Motif

Sydney Slime Motif

Once I had these established, I began to compose the Title Music which prominently features the full Prince Perilous motif. In our initial preproduction meetings, we had decided that using an orchestral palette featuring orchestration appropriate for the light fantasy genre would be the most appropriate for the game. Using this musical palette, I completed the Title Theme track and orchestrated the music with this genre in mind. You’ll hear strings, woodwinds and light percussion featured prominently throughout both the Title Theme and in-game score.

For the in-game music, I took a look at the featured gameplay for each area of the game and determined how this would affect the mood of the music, which then determined the harmonic language, structure and orchestration I would use for each piece of music. Each track in the score utilizes a fragment of the original motif woven into the music, based on the character, which is reharmonized to fit the mood of the area of the game it’s used in. For example, in areas of the game that feature battle or timed puzzle mechanics, I composed the music to be more upbeat and harmonically ‘bright’, featuring strings and woodwinds in the orchestrations.

For exploration, I orchestrated the music using woodwinds playing in their lower ranges and soft harp textures to give these areas a low key fantastical, explorative feel. In the areas that feature the main antagonist, Sydney Slime, I created darker musical textures featuring low brass and strings, and reharmonized the original Slime motif using chromatic passages and tense chord voicings which give the music a more sinister feel.

The resulting soundtrack I believe turned out very nicely. A most excellent and fun soundtrack to score, and a real pleasure working with the SP team!

Barry

  • Remixlab

    Excellent article, Barry. Drinks soon?