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Lesson 2

Table of Contents

Lesson 2: Re-orchestration – Using a Layered Approach

Another approach to dynamically changing music is to use a layered approach, also known as re-orchestration. This concept very much mirrors the creative process of writing a short section of music, like the eight measure block of music you’ll be integrating in this lesson. You might start with a melody line and then add a harmony, followed by counter melody, bass and percussion; each a layer that builds the bigger theme. As you write, it’s typical to experiment with combining layers in different ways–with and without drums, or perhaps the bass and the guitar only. You may also try changing which instruments play different parts–maybe a flute has the melody or maybe the synth lead?

In a conventional DAW, it’s common to build every contributing instrument as a track which complements the other tracks both harmonically and rhythmically. Then it’s easy to use the track’s mute feature for experimenting with how different combinations of layers sound together. This often reveals usable combinations that may not have come to mind when initially composing the part. The end result in a DAW’s editor is that you see multiple layers of tracks stacked vertically, which may help to explain the vertical designation sometimes used for the layered approach.

In Cube, you’ll use this layered approach to incorporate music that was specifically composed for when the player is engaged in enemy combat–which for this game happens a lot! The music is upbeat and energetic. While the composer could have delivered completely pre-mixed segments for the combat music (as you used for the Explore Music), the audio assets have been delivered in a multi-track format. This means that each audio file you’ll be importing represents either a single track like a guitar or premixed files for an instrument group such as percussion or strings–often referred to as stem mixes. Observe the image from the DAW project.

You see various tracks used for the combat music. If this music stayed in the DAW, decisions about which parts are going to play on which instruments at various points in the game would have to be finalized–fixing the arrangement. This leaves a lot of the creative possibilities off the table. However, Wwise provides a way to dynamically bring those possibilities back to life in a way that even unexplored combinations can be realized during game play–keeping things musically interesting when the music might play for extended amounts of time.

For this lesson, however, you’re going to focus on a section of music called Combat-A. Because Combat-A is only 8 measures long you may think there’s not much opportunity for variety, but using a layered approach coupled with Wwise features developed specifically for this methodology, you’ll discover there’s a lot that 8 bars of music can do!

  1. Open the Lesson 2 project and go to the Interactive Music layout by pressing F10 and expand the Music Work Unit.