|May 14, 2010 (Last Update)|
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL LAND
MUSIC IN THE
Michael Land is most famous for being
one of the creators of the so familiar Monkey Island theme. He
also composed the score for Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis,
The Curse of Monkey Island and SimCity 4 among others.
His most remarkable score for a game is arguably the one he did for
I started taking classical piano lessons when I was five, but I never practiced enough, and quit in frustration at age 12. Shortly thereafter I started teaching myself to improvise on the piano, and a couple of years later I plunged headfirst into the electric bass. In high school and college I "studied" all kinds of rock, which gradually lead me to electronic music, which lead me back to classical music, completing a kind of loop.
Which musicians do you admire?
My favorites are Beethoven,
Wagner, Hendrix, The Grateful Dead and Renaissance choral music. I've
also been playing a lot of Irish guitar lately, and have developed a
real appreciation for that tradition.
How did you get into LucasArts?
Oddly enough from a newspaper ad posted by an unauthorized headhunter. I guess you could say I had some pretty lucky timing, because LucasArts jobs weren't usually posted in newspapers, and I never looked in newspapers for jobs, but right at that time my mom insisted I check the newspaper, and it all lined up.
When did you started working on The Dig? Was it with Sean Clark or back then with Brian Moriarty?
The first work I did on the project was the music for a trailer-style video that Brian put together. Then there was a big gap, and then I started working fulltime with Sean about a year before it shipped.
Did you always had in mind what kind of musical style you wanted for The Dig?
Overall, yes. To be more precise, I always knew exactly the mood and feeling I wanted, but certain aspects of the style developed over the course of the project.
Tell us about the music development. Did you made the music based on what you saw from the game and what you knew about the story?
From just being around LucasArts for years while the game was in various stages of pre-production, I had already developed my own sense of what the mood and feel of the game were about, which over time gave rise to a vague collection of musical ideas that I would play around with from time to time. When I started working with Sean, we had some key conversations early on where he explained the game to me in more detail... not just the story and characters, but also what was going on under the surface in terms of psychological themes and meanings. A big part of developing the score was correlating and shaping my pool of musical ideas to fit the specific dramatic structures that Sean was developing.
What was exactly what you take from Wagner to made your score?
Chords, lots of chords. I went through two hours of Wagner orchestral music and isolated about 300 little segments, ranging from 2 to 10 seconds, where a nicely orchestrated chord is played without too much melodic activity on top. I then took these chord snippets, adjusting their pitch as needed, and added them one measure at a time to compositions that I had performed on a midi keyboard. The Wagner chords really add a lot of richness and depth, and a slightly otherworldly quality because every few seconds they switch from one snippet to another, which creates all kinds of unexpected textural variations on a subliminal level.
How long have
you spend on composing the musical score?
First, thanks for the compliment. I think one thing that made a big difference for me was that the moods and feelings that I associated with the game were ones that I tend to feel about life in general, in terms of my overall emotional orientation. So I always felt that with this score I was reaching inside of myself and expressing what I really feel.
Where did you
recorded it? Was it all synthesized?
I'd love to.
is it in "A River Canyon"?
The idea for releasing the soundtrack actually came from Angel records. When I raised the idea of using Wagner snippets, LucasArts approached Angel about licensing some Wagner, and Angel suggested that in return for the use of the Wagner, they would get the rights to release a soundtrack of the game score.
There are differences
between the music on the game and the music on the CD soundtrack. What
was your aproach on the CD?
I think that for me, the score expresses a vaguely religious feeling I have about the spirituality of life, perhaps the sadness of its temporariness, as well as the hope and redemption that comes from connecting to forces larger than oneself. For me, there's a certain way in which sadness and beauty come together in a particular feeling, and that's what I was trying to express.
I recall loading
The Dig game, using Boston Low to go the the underwater cavern, leaving
him in front of that underwater window, leaving the PC and taking a
nap listening the beautiful and peaceful music that was played in that
or co-created the iMUSE music system. How does this system works?
from The Dig?
Have you played
the game? What do you think of it?
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