We continued our chat with Rob about what goes into creating the music of Sunshine Days. Wecome to Part Two of the two-part series. If you haven't yet read Part One you can do so here. ✨
Rob, describe your process and some of your decisions when creating some tracks for the original soundtrack...
🎶 When writing any track for the OST, I always make sure my creative choices inform the story, the emotion and the gameplay of any given moment. This is usually a good place to start whatever the game is.
🎶 With regards to individual tracks I also find it really useful to inform:
✨ CHARACTER Is the music for a specific NPC? Is there anything characterful that needs describing? ✨ PLACE What is the area like? Is it inside? Outside? ✨ UTILITY What is the specific type of gameplay in this area? Is it an activity? Is it a shop? Is it a menu?
🎶 Let’s look at 3 tracks and see how these considerations apply.
In the Main Street area, you get the opportunity to trade your goods in Shiba’s shop for all important gold. The inside of this shop needs a suitable track...
- Shiba is super cute and very cheeky! Bearing this in mind I made the tempo slightly faster than what I typically pick for Sunshine Days songs. Often I make the piano the main melody voice as it cuts through, but for Shiba I opted for a very light organ sound instead which hints at a more playful and childlike nature. This informs CHARACTER.
- I added cash register sounds to the percussion. This highlights that we are definitely a shop and informs the PLACE.
- This is a shop, so I made the music cycle through 2 chords quite quickly to represent repeating transactions. Also the first melody phrase quickly ascends up, and the second melody phrase quickly descends down. I imagine this is like a question and answer - “What would I like to trade?” “This is what I will trade!” This informs UTILITY.
LET IT FLOW
Let It Flow is the first of two tracks that appears in Flappyfin Waterway. There are a few things I considered for the initial music in this riverside area.
- The first thing I did was look at the gameplay. Flappyfin Waterway is the first fishing area players will discover so I want to highlight this. With that in mind I made the drum pattern stop and start to represent stopping to fish then walking to the next spot. This informs UTILITY.
- I made the decision to have bongos in percussion on music that appears on islands that grant resources following active tasks (cutting wood, farming, fishing, etc.) This gives this type of gameplay a little bit of flavour and further informs UTILITY.
- I made the melodic piano notes very deliberate and gave them space to resonate out to silence. This is reminiscent of things landing in the river and floating away, so this informs the PLACE.
- This is an open area with a little exploring for the player to do. This means phrases are longer and take longer to resolve. You’re either having a little wander or chilling by the river - this is no time for quick repeating phrases! Therefore this decision informs PLACE & UTILITY.
- Touching back on the piano melody, they are designed to be singular and high. This reminiscent of bait being dropped in the river from a height, and again this informs PLACE & UTILITY.
Notice there is less CHARACTER to talk about in this track, but that’s because Freya lives in her own little house within Flappyfin Waterway which is the music I’ll look at next!
Freya is our resident fish catcher. They are interesting because they are ready for the important business of fishing, but when you enter their home, it is fancy and chock full of the finer things!
Looking at Freya’s home, I decided that they love a bit of jazz! An NPC home provides a unique space to try something a bit atypical, so added some swingy open high hats, some luxurious major 7th chords picked out on acoustic guitar, and then a tasty clarinet solo. This informs CHARACTER & PLACE. The vibe of a home should be inviting, like you’ll spend a long time there. For this reason melodic phrases and chord progressions are quite long to reflect this. This informs PLACE & UTILITY.
This pattern of thought is typically how I have approached all 42 tracks on the OST so far. We've loved sharing Volume 2 with you all. And who knows, maybe there will be a Volume 3 as Sunshine Valley grows ever bigger!