Gears of War 3 “Stranded Music”

October 6th, 2011 | By Lance Hayes


I’ve posted on my Facebook page a little about the music I did for Epic’s final installment to the Gears of War series. I was tasked with creating the songs that play in the Stranded camps as part of a project that the game’s writers had put together. We came up with a demo and they pitched that to Epic. Evidently Cliff Bleszinski liked what he heard and we were green-lit.

I was mid session in a massive project but the opportunity to work on Gears of War 3 was way too enticing so I didn’t sleep much for a couple of weeks in July of 2010! It started with a manufactured instrument that I called the “Ladder Harp”. Here’s a picture:

Basically it was just fishing line and dowel run over a ladder and plucked by hand. I had a smaller piece of dowel attached to tune it as it tended to drift. You can see the clamp on the upper step of the ladder that was used to get one of the strings in “tune”. I say “tune” because even with the best efforts I could muster I could not get this thing close to 440 compliant. Standard pitch was pretty much impossible. But I was able to tune them approximately to each other.

Once I had it built I mic’ed it up and recorded a lot of notes from it.


It was a lot of fun to work with. We wanted the music to be as rough as possible with lots of artifacts and what not so we worked hard to keep the process of creating the songs as naturalistic as we could. I didn’t work hard to isolate noise or other transient sound issues. In fact extra noise in the process seemed to add to the realism that we were shooting for.

The samples were then taken back to the studio where I created an instrument from them in Reason. I played the sample instrument back and then added my vocals over it.

There were additional elements added to the other Stranded Music including a set of violin sound design elements that were created by Jeff Ball and myself. Bowed banjo and vocals by Ian Dorsch and Joy Dorsch

As of right now there are no examples of the Stranded Music available but as soon as that changes I’ll post a link. In the meantime have fun playing Gears 3 and give me a shout if you hear some of the music in the game.


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Lance Hayes