Archive for October, 2011

Interview with Square Enix Music

October 18th, 2011 | By Lance Hayes

Fresh off the press today! In an in-depth interview with Chris Greening Lance talks about the writing process, licensing, composing for the Forza series and discusses his Stranded Music for Gears of War 3. You can check it out here


Forza Motorsport 4 Music Selections

October 16th, 2011 | By Lance Hayes

A SoundCloud playlist that features tracks from my work on the Turn 10 / Microsoft smash “Forza Motorsport 4”. Enjoy!

Forza Motorsport 4 by Lance Hayes (DJDM)
And as always the the soundtrack to Forza Motorsport 3 is available on iTunes and on Amazon.

ASCAP Congratulations

October 12th, 2011 | By Lance Hayes

This just in from the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) Facebook page

“Congrats to ASCAP composer/producer Lance Hayes (DJDM) Music, who scored over 100 minutes of music for Turn 10 Studios‘ forthcoming Xbox 360 game, Forza Motorsport 4. His original soundtrack for Forza Motorsport 3 was hailed as one of the best electronic albums of 2010 by G4TV…we’re guessing this one’s going to be amazing too!”

Forza Motorsport 4 Soundtrack

October 10th, 2011 | By Lance Hayes

Monday, October 10, 2011


Seattle, WA – October 10th, 2011 – Following the critically acclaimed soundtrack for Forza Motorsport 3, ASCAP award-winning composer and producer Lance Hayes (aka DJDM) returns to provide custom music for Forza Motorsport 4 developed by Turn 10 Studios of Microsoft Game Studios. Lance Hayes’ original soundtrack for Forza Motorsport 3 was hailed as one of the best electronic albums of 2010 by G4 TV. Created exclusively for the Xbox 360, Forza Motorsport 4 is scheduled for release on 11th October, 2011.

Working closely with Turn 10 Studios, the creators of the Forza Motorsport franchise, Lance Hayes crafted definitive musical statements to complement the new look and feel of Forza Motorsport 4. The new soundtrack features a broad range of music styles and overall chill demeanor encompassing primarily electronica, ambient and downtempo with forays into ambient breaks, illbient and acid jazz.

Audio Director Nick Wiswell: “The music of Lance Hayes is an integral component of the UI of Forza Motorsport 4, as it was in Forza Motorsport 3. The menus in Forza Motorsport 4 are vast and many players will spend hours in them setting up tuning options or creating liveries; Lance has provided 15 songs to make this experience as enjoyable and varied as possible for the player. He also produced 4 tracks for the in-game race soundtrack which are very different in tempo, scope and feel, showing the breadth of his compositional skills.”

Composer Lance Hayes: “I was honored to be brought back to work on an expanded soundtrack creating over 100 minutes of music for the UI as well as the in-game experience. The score has an increased cinematic feel as well as incorporating many of the styles (downtempo, electronic, ambient) that made the Forza 3 OST a fan favorite.”

The highest-rated racing franchise of this generation returns. Unrivaled in its innovation and quality, Forza Motorsport 4 pushes the racing genre forward, delivering the most stunning graphics ever seen on the Xbox 360 platform, radical experiences only possible with Kinect, groundbreaking social features through Xbox LIVE and a landslide of new content, cars and new ways to play. Launching this October exclusively on Xbox 360, Forza Motorsport 4 is an entirely new automotive experience. For more information visit

Endangered Species Trailer

October 6th, 2011 | By Lance Hayes

Endangered Species Trailer

IGN Forza Motorosport 4 Video Review

October 6th, 2011 | By Lance Hayes

This is fun: FM4 Video Review on IGN

Forza Motorsport 4 Early Reviews

October 6th, 2011 | By Lance Hayes

Metacritic has started to compile the reviews for FM4 and so far it’s fairing quite nicely at 93. It’s still a little early but things are looking good!

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.


A Composers Perspective on Game Audio – Adaptive Audio Concepts and Work Flow

October 3rd, 2011 | By Lance Hayes

Note to Readers

This article is from the collection of blogs I wrote for Keyboard Magazine’s website in 2010 and 2011. For more information about Keyboard Magazine please go to their website.


A Composers Perspective on Game Audio – Adaptive Audio Concepts and Work Flow

I’m often asked, “What exactly is adaptive music?” With that in mind, this entry is dedicated to a core game-music production concept. I’ll do my best to offer up a basic outline and explain, with some examples, what adaptive audio is and a little about how it is created.

Non-Linear Music

One of the first things that game composers must tackle conceptually is use and application of non-linear music production. We all know that linear music is music that plays from one end to the other without interruption. By contrast, adaptive music is expected to twist and bend, lead and define on demand as the player moves through the game while maintaining structural integrity. That is to say it has to sound like music, communicate with the player and engage the listener while being custom-built by the action in the game. The very best does that so transparently you don’t realize you’re listening to a custom-created soundtrack.

On a very high level, adaptive music is best described as music that is created to augment or inform player actions or progress through a game. It is similar to the concepts of sound design in games where you create a set of sounds that play at a precisely orchestrated moment to enhance an action in the game (for example, the sound of a door opening when you open a door in the game). Music can function in much the same way to enhance the player experience.

What’s in a Name?

Adaptive music is also often referred to as “interactive” or “dynamic.” There is some debate and splitting of hairs about these terms, but the important thing to keep in mind is that they all mean a system of music that can be broken down and used in various capacities within a game. Properly implemented adaptive music by any other name can heighten the player experience and give rise to a musical score for the gameplay that can be at once unique under repeat play and allow for leitmotif development to occur naturally to varying degrees of refinement.

I prefer the title “adaptive” to the other options because this word is the most closely aligned to the actual process that takes place when the music is adjusting to gameplay. Adaptive music can result in a nearly endless series of possible types of experiences in a game. The sky’s the limit.

Before we move on, it may also help to know that “implementation” is the term used in the game industry to describe the process of placing, mixing, augmenting and managing the music and sound-design assets in the game audio engine.


If it’s well-conceived and implemented, adaptive music develops into a subtle audio experience that leaves the player unaware that the musical playback is following their progress or directing their actions. The idea is that the music is triggered in a way that will allow them to feel as if the score for the game is happening not because they are now in an area or experiencing an event that triggers a new set of music, but because the game is scoring their progress seamlessly in an effort to give context or clues. With that in mind, you can imagine how adaptive music could be employed to achieve almost any mood or result at any juncture during gameplay.


Adaptive music is designed and produced in a number of ways. The music itself can be created using virtually any approach, from one person in a studio or session musicians working up parts to full orchestral sessions with choir. Or all of the above blended together, as is the case with many soundtracks now. The approach is similar to other media at that point.

Depending on the nature of the project, the composer often has to keep the adaptive process in mind as he or she composes. You have to consider that the music will be played back in a non-linear fashion, and so that affects, among other things, use of modes, key changes, and tempo as you work up a track. You can still do all of those things, but the timing has to be pre-established so they don’t clash with each other and layers can play back-to-back or layered as stems.

After the loops and stems are established, they can be used in numerous ways. A common method is back-to-back triggered playback of loops or sections of music activated by player action or location in the game space. In that instance, the music is played back as complete blocks of audio, much like triggering block-type MIDI or sample files in your DAW.

Another approach is to use the stems as musical or percussive layers that can be flown in over a core composition stem to add enhanced tension, happiness, stress, excitement, and so on. Real-time DSP effects are sometimes used on the music to enhance the final sound and give it additional context. A popular example of that is a grenade going off in the game near the player, causing all of the sound and music to be ducked and run through a lowpass filter to simulate the short-term effect of temporary deafness.


Thanks to fellow composer and violinist extraordinaire Jeff Ball for suggesting this video capture from popular audio middleware FMOD that succinctly shows what is happening to the layers of music as situations develop in the game. You can’t see the gameplay from this perspective, but this is what’s happening behind the curtain if you look at the process from the viewpoint of the middleware. The music flows seamlessly from simple to complex and percussive, and from mellow to aggressive.

A great video (NSFW) of adaptive music being highlighted during actual gameplay was created by the team at WallOfSound as an example of their work on Mass Effect 2. They created a massive hybrid score that incorporated electronics and full orchestra seamlessly into the game. The video features work by Jack Wall, Sam Hulick, David Kates, and Jimmy Hinson, with audio implementation by Brian DiDomenico. If you want a good overview of the adaptive process, this video gives you an idea of what’s happening as the action ramps up. Keep an eye on the titles at the bottom of the screen to see how many events shape the music you are hearing as the soundtrack progresses.

From a different perspective, there is great example of using layers to create an adaptive score in this video interview (also NSFW) with Jason Graves. The whole interview is worth a look, but starting at 5:44 Jason shares some great information about his approach to layered adaptive score creation and how he developed those layers for his soundtrack for Dead Space 2. He also discusses working with the team at the studio.

Another fantastic illustration of an adaptive score is 2009’s “Flower.” Using a combination of synth- and orchestra-style cues layered together, composer Vincent Diamante created an entire interactive world of music that matches the beautiful images and simple gameplay from this elegant masterpiece.


The information here is really only intended to give you an indication of what adaptive audio is. Adaptive audio is an amazing, continuously growing frontier in games and increasingly in outside media. If you are interested in game music, this is one of the most fundamental concepts in the medium.


Pro Tip

The Sony PSN hacking event helped illustrate to many people just how deeply games and the game industry impact our everyday lives. When the 77 million user accounts suddenly became unavailable due to an intrusion into the Sony network, there was hue and cry and then some real-time issues when it became clear that credit card accounts had been violated. I was reminded—along with millions of others—that it’s a long dark night without Call of Duty: Black Ops, and for some there was no solution other than a trade in.

It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out for Sony, but they are back online now and hopefully this will all be a memory as once again players enjoy competing across one of the biggest game networks on earth.

Gear Tip

Michael Patti and Michael Barry at Cinesamples are hard at work on an exciting new brass library. Recorded by legendary veteran Dennis Sands at the Sony Pictures Scoring stage in Los Angeles, the CineBrass collection looks like it will be exceptional. The library features all the individual brass sections sampled with true legato transitions and a remarkable new articulations engine. Check out the CineBrass patches teaser video.

A Composers Perspective on Game Audio – Choice Notions

October 3rd, 2011 | By Lance Hayes

Note to Readers

This article is from the collection of blogs I wrote for Keyboard Magazine’s website in 2010 and 2011. For more information about Keyboard Magazine please go to their website.


A Composers Perspective on Game Audio – Choice Notions

I recently reached out to my composer brethren and friends asking if they would be willing to talk about their successes as composers. To my delight, everyone I contacted was excited to throw down some knowledge.

I suggested that because the road to achievement is different for all of us, it would be great if they would discuss some of the simple ingredients they’d found that helped them to maintain momentum in their careers and helped them achieve their goals.

I got back outstanding responses. The range of detail in the replies was great, and everyone had valuable insights into what it takes to make it in the game field and beyond.


Bill Brown (Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, CSI New York, Bill Brown Music) – “I’ve found over the years that building a career in scoring for film/tv/games seems to be about the quality of your work and the quality of your relationships. I’m always striving to take things to the next level with every project I work on, and part of that is listening as carefully as I can to the vision of the director/producers/writers/developers and then reflecting back to them what I heard so I know we’re all on the same page. Great friendships come out of that level of listening to not only the words that are being said, but also to the meaning that is beneath the words.

Integrity is key. Always be true to your word, work hard, and you’ll continue to gain respect. And as far as I’m concerned, that is the foundation for everything else. If you make a mistake, take responsibility for it as soon as you find out about it. Don’t wait. It will come around sooner or later anyway, and it’s much better to be proactive in everything you do.

Know what will work best in any given scenario (study the masters and continue to innovate), but also be original and have fun with whatever you’re working on. I’ve found when I really enjoy whatever cue I happen to be working on and get really excited about it, that’s usually the same reaction I get from my collaborators.”

Jason Graves (Dead Space series, – “Be as well-rounded as possible. Don’t just focus on music composition in games. The more you know about any and all things audio, the more you will have to offer when that potential gig comes in.

I spent the better part of three years doing nothing but recording radio VO and mixing television shows and corporate video, which included recording live handbells, a country band, and every Republican politician in the state of NC. It wasn’t the most glamorous audio work, but it did keep me busy and I got paid. And most importantly, I was working in the world of audio and making a living.”

Marty O’Donnell (Halo, Bungie)

  • I took piano lessons since I was seven and didn’t quit in junior high
  • I studied classical music and played in jazz and rock bands with friends
  • I went to a music conservatory and got a Bachelor’s followed by a Master’s degree in music composition
  • I wrote and produced music and sound for TV/Radio commercials, films, and just about anybody who would pay me
  • I kept learning about new technology and paid close attention to what other composers were doing
  • I learned how to collaborate with other creative people
  • I played a lot of games
  • I got lucky

Will Loconto (Sega’s The Incredible Hulk, X-Men: The Official Game, Will Loconto Music and Sound) – “I hear quite a few people telling aspiring composers to “pick one thing and spend most of your time honing your skill at that one thing.” Taking that path, you end up constantly counting on somebody wanting to pay you for your “one thing.”

My advice is to always be learning, and always be flexible. Be able to deliver many things, whether that means creating something yourself or knowing when to hire someone else to help.

Also, don’t devalue your work by working for free just to get a credit. There are strategic times when working at a discounted rate might help you, but getting a credit on a title few people ever hear about does very little to advance your career and usually sets expectations that you are willing to work for little or nothing.”

Christopher Tin (First ever Grammy awarded for video game music for “Baba Yetu” from Civilization IV, Christopher Tin) – “I think there’s a simple work ethic that I subscribe to that helps me out. I’m a big hockey fan, and I watch a lot of hockey on TV.  When you see players get interviewed between periods, and the interviewer asks them how they felt about their last period, their last game, where they are in the standings, etc., the answer is always ‘We can’t think about that right now. We just need to think about the next shift and playing our game to the best of our abilities.

If you ask how that translates to a career in the music business, I’d say I try to have the same attitude. I try to focus on the project at hand and execute to the best of your abilities. I try to just focus on writing the best music I can at all times and not get distracted by all the other noise. Just focus on the job at hand. Take it one cue at a time, one section at a time, one measure at a time.”

Chris Rickwood (Ghost Busters the Video Game, Global Agenda, Chris Rickwood Music) – “One of my professors in college would always drill into me, “Practice the things you can’t do.” You know, learn something new then move on. It really applies to everything I do in my career. I’m constantly trying new techniques, reading new magazines, studying new music, watching new movies–anything to fill my creative bucket. Or when I’m writing, maybe I don’t open the same plug-ins, or use the same samples, or use the computer at all. I really crave things that I’ve never done before and really seek out something new every day.

There have been many times in my career when I’ve taken on a job and thought, “I’m not sure I can do this.” That’s when I would know it was going to be a fun project. Extremely stressful, but fun! And by the end I would totally level up my skills, so on the next project, I could push things even farther.”

Mick Gordon (The Last Airbender, Need for Speed Shift, Game Audio Australia) – “Number one is right place and right time, but you’ve often got to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time. I make sure I head to as many events, dinners, expos, and conferences as I can to meet new people and maintain existing relationships.

Consistency is probably the most important thing that someone should be aiming for. When you’re hired for gigs, clients shouldn’t have to worry if you’re going to deliver good stuff on time. Clients need to be able to rely on you to not just meet the brief but to exceed the brief and also exceed their expectations of you. If you’re easy to work with and are able to consistently deliver good material, then you’ll continue to get work.

Sam Hulick (Mass Effect 1 and 2, Heroes of Stalingrad, SoundGiants Inc.) – “What’s really helped me in my career is showing up at GDC every year and making valuable connections. And I don’t mean connections in the sense of having to know the right people, but what I mean is that it’s a small industry in the grand scheme of things, and everyone is connected somehow. Maybe the writer or level designer you really connected with goes back to his company and raves to the audio director about you. My point is, keep an open mind when networking, and don’t focus so much on business or landing work. Show up at GDC consistently so people remember you, be personable, make a good impression, and just have fun. The business stuff will happen naturally if you have the talent and professionalism to back you up.”

Jason Hayes (World of Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, – “I think one of the best things you can do as a musician trying to find work is to be extremely flexible with the kind of jobs that you’re willing to take. In the past I’ve worked in a music store keyboard department, played in a band as a touring musician, worked in a recording studio, and also written jingles for radio ads. So being willing and able to do a number of different things has been a good strategy for maintaining a semi-stable career in music. Also, if you want to work in the game industry, it can a good idea to try to get in the door in the QA department, or if you have the skills for it, the IT department. Because once you’re in the door you can start to talk to the developers about your interest in writing music, and you’ll be way ahead of everyone else who has to resort to sending CDs in the mail. In my experience, those CDs stack up really high in someone’s office, and it’s hard to get noticed that way.”

Tom Salta (H.A.W.X., Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Red Steel, – “A diversity of projects always helps me build and maintain momentum. I get bored doing the same thing over and over, so I always welcome opportunities that present me with unique challenges. It can be quite nerve-racking at times and can get me out of my comfort zone, but I know that for me, that’s when I grow. It forces me to try and experience new things that I never have before. That’s one of my favorite parts about what I do–having the ability to explore different styles of music and interact with a wide range of musicians and cultures that I’d normally never have the chance to in everyday life.”


Thanks again to everyone that took the time to contribute their wisdom. My only regret is that there wasn’t an opportunity to pursue further input from additional friends in the industry.

And because I got everyone else to pony up, I figure I should add my own two cents. Here are some simple ideas that augment what has already been suggested by my colleagues and have served me well in my career:

  • Throw yourself 110% into whatever project you have in front of you, no matter the size
  • Take on all challenges with a smile
  • Meet deadlines and beat expectations
  • Write music that resonates
  • Have heart and take chances

Pro Tip: Game Audio Book Club Suggestion

If you’d like to delve deeper into the world of interactive audio for games, look no further than Richard Steven’s and Dave Raybould’s The Game Audio Tutorial (Focal Press). It’s a newly released practical guide with projects and examples that cover both sound design and music implementation in games. It includes access to their website with tie-in lessons.

Lance Hayes