Skagit Impressions Three – Adaptive Layer Battle Theme One

Skagit Impressions Three from the Gary Brown and Conrad Askland project. Farmland photos of Skagit County, WA by Gary Brown with music by Conrad Askland.

This third impression includes my composition “Adaptive Layer Battle Theme One.” This is a five layer composition for use in video game adaptive scoring. Each of the five layers are complete unto themselves, but also layer to create different levels of tension. In a gaming environment these different layers would be triggered in and out by player actions and states of being.

For the Skagit Impressions Three video, each layer builds sequentially. Starting with layer one – then layer one plus layer two – then layer one two and three and so on until all five layers are playing together.

In the video below, I show how this same music might be used in a gaming environment. The layers are used for the different states and actions of a character in the video game Uncharted 3.

In scoring this piece I started with creating the movement of the chord progression, then creating the main melody, a harmony melody, and a counter melody which is played by the french horns.


In the sheet music above you see a screenshot of the melody outline, root of chord bass movement, counter melody and simple brass rhythm. In my compositions I find it most important to nail down the melody first. Particularly if you have harmony and countermelody involved. It’s possible to do a single melody on the fly by ear and even to add harmony to that on the fly. But when you add that third voice (in this example the third voice is a counter melody) then it’s very important to know exactly which chord tones are represented and to look for accidental cross voicing of melodic lines or inadvertent doubling of chord tones. I intentionally only triple the chord tones on the very last measure of all the melodies.


*Note – In my sketch above the title says “Uncharted 3 Theme” because I was composing based on player footage from Uncharted 3. To be clear, this is not the actual theme from the video game Uncharted 3. This was the sketch for my vision of that theme music and my final piece sketched hear was given the very dry name of “Adaptive Layer Battle Theme One.”


What is your approach to composing game audio with three or more concurrent melodic lines?

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