In this episode, I talk with Chris Kukla, a game composer who wrote the soundtrack for Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle. We talk about his song “Where Are My Keys?”
In my interview with Chris Kukla, we cover the following:
- His musical background, playing piano as a kid, then learning guitar and going to college for music, and how he got his first game music gig
- For the most part, he learned synthesis by trial and error and Google searches
- Lately he’s been using a lot of kalimba, marimba, xylophone, harp, glockenspiel, celesta
- Chris likes Kontact’s Cinematic Strings, Berlin Woodwinds, Sample Modeling‘s horns, Orchestral Brass Classic, and VOXOS: Epic Choirs. He also mentioned Emmitt Cooke’s blog entry 19 Smaller Kontakt Developers You’ve Probably Never Heard Of (and need to check out!)
- Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle is a roguelike turn-based RPG with permanent death, similar to Dungeons of Dredmor
- Daniel Millward, the developer has a great sense of humor and has put funny material into the game
- Where Are My Keys has a non-standard meter, a repeating pattern of three measures of 5/8 and one measure of 7/8. In Ableton, he uses one measure of 11/4.
- We talk about the form and instrumentation of the song. The repeating 8th note pattern is a marimba sound. and then the bass part is a string bass. The instruments are pretty much stock sounds that come with Reason.
- The main melody is a guitar sample that is processed in a guitar rig with EQ, distortion and a lot of ValhallaRoom reverb. After a few measures, a glockenspiel doubles the melody with the same processing.
- There are two additional marimba parts that play harmony with the first part. The main melody is reprised near the end.
- The song is five minutes altogether and does not loop during gameplay. This game may last six or seven hours, so the soundtrack has a number of longer pieces to keep the music from being repetitive.
- I then played “Where Are My Keys?”
- Chris also wrote the soundtracks for a couple of short films, iDig and Raw and Primal Yearnings where he got to write in a variety of styles
- Chris likes the podcast All Songs Considered
- Some of Chris’s favorite games of all time are Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and the Civilization series. He also really likes the music in The Binding of Isaac (Danny Baranoswky) and Gunpoint (Ryan Ike, Francisco Cerda, and John Robert Matz)
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