Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Music from the Lost Realm

Music – the thing we listen to while we drive the car, exercise, walk around, meet with friends, live. Music makes us dance, it keeps us on our toes, it makes us cry and sing along. It enhances and sometimes manipulates our feelings until we feel part of the story being told, or actually until we really feel there, side by side with our favorite heroes.

Video games abide by this rule too – players need to know that the fate of the world depends on what they're going to do next. How we underline their actions, especially with music, has big repercussions on the feelings a game can evoke.

In November we met with Kalle Ylitalo, composer of Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, to discuss what fans can expect from the new soundtrack. Kalle had already worked on the Oceanhorn: Monster of the Uncharted Seas original soundtrack, alongside Japanese legends such as Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito. When we met, Kalle was taking a small break with Arttu Jauhiainen, flutist, one of the six talented musicians attached to the project.

"One aspect that makes composing for Oceanhorn so pleasant, is that I can concentrate on creating beautiful melodies which often have a hint of Finnish folk music in them," says Ylitalo. "This is something that comes very intuitively for me, so composing music for both the new title and the previous has felt very natural. These melodies have their roots in my early childhood when my mom used to sing a lot of Finnish folk songs to me and my brother."

His involvement in the project has roots in the past: "I've been a friend of Heikki (Repo, Cornfox & Brothers Creative Director and Co-founder) for a long time. Back then, as a teenager, he was already developing games. I don't think I helped him out with the music at that time, but I am now!"

Kalle is currently composing the Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm soundtrack in a new direction. "I feel that the first game was more of a classic adventure, and the soundtrack reflected that. Oceanhorn 2 has more diverse elements, and I've been trying to create musical traditions for each of the cultures in the game." The Pirta theme is a good example of that. There's a shakuhachi flute there, and steam-pipes sounds. "I'm really happy with those tracks because they sound like no existing music culture that I know of," adds Ylitalo. "The role of the real instruments and musicians here is to really make the score come alive. Everyone can hear the difference it makes when a talented professional interprets a melody, compared to a midi-instrument."

Arttu has worked on many different projects, but this is the first game he works on. "I haven't had a chance to play the game yet, but can't wait to try it when the music is implemented, can't be anything other than great!"

Along with Arttu (Flute, Piccolo, Alto Flute), the game's score features Lauri Sallinen (Clarinet, Bass clarinet), Sanna Niemikunnas (Oboe, English horn), Rista Tuura (Violin), Anna Grundström (Cello), and József Hárs (Horn).

"In the first game, there was this flute theme played by the protagonist's father", said Kalle when we asked about how's the main team shaping up. "It was an excellent melody, so I decided to base the main theme on it. That is the only melody in Oceanhorn 2 we have used in multiple tracks. I can't say anything more, or it would be a spoiler!"


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