Sunday, 8 December 2013

The music of GRAND THEFT AUTO V - explained?

The following is an edited extract from my last newsletter: 

The various versions of the score seemed to have confused some fans, especially the non-game players amongst us, so with that in mind perhaps it’s best to look at each one in turn: 

1. The GTAV Dynamic Score*: i.e: the music directly used in the game when you are playing it. This was a totally collaborative score composed by Edgar Froese, Woody Jackson (composer of Red Dead Redemption & L.A. Noire), together with hip-hop producer/ rappers The Alchemist (AKA Alan Daniel Maman) and Oh No (AKA Michael Jackson). Edgar’s compositions were worked on by all of the musicians, who added or resampled sections and these in turn were then passed on to the next person. Edgar also added his unique Tangerine Dream sequences and melodies to their compositions; sometimes taking things in a totally different/ more emotional direction. Another thing that should be noted is that the score reacts to game-play, therefore the music is always changing dynamically, based around what are called ‘stems’. Stems are basically single track loops or structures that are triggered at certain parts within the game (mainly during the Missions) depending on how fast or far the player is progressing within it. Due to the interactive nature of the music, it basically only exists within the game. Edgar’s music is also used during the game’s loading sequence and some of you may have already noticed what the track is – it’s MONA DE VINCI from the 2011 CD/cup disc of the same name (available to download from the band's official website), as well as a beautiful unreleased track that plays whenever the game is paused – it currently has 99,000+ hits on youtube – and yes that is a BIG hint ;) 

2. The Music from Grand Theft Auto V – Vol 2 the Score – currently only available as a download. Here the musical ‘stems’ are brought together and have been remixed & layered by DJ Shadow, perhaps most famous for his 1996 album Entroducing on which he sampled Tangerine Dream’s album Stratosfear. On first glance only a handful of the tracks seem all that ‘TD-like’, but on further investigation many of the tracks have TD/ Edgar Froese-like sequences and chord changes. DJ Shadow seems to have also added extra drum parts and percussion, perhaps using the avant-garde drummer Deantoni Parks – who recently tweeted he had worked with Tangerine Dream. The full track list is: 

1. We Were Set Up 
2. A Legitimate Business Man 
3. A Haze Of Patriotic Fervor 
4. Los Santos At Night 
5. North Yankton Memories 
6. The Grip 
7. Mr. Trevor Philips 
8. A Bit Of An Awkward Situation 
9. No Happy Endings 
10. His Mentor 
11. (Sounds Kind Of) Fruity 
12. Minor Turbulence 
13. Chop The Dog 
14. A Lonely Man 
15. You Forget A Thousand Things 
16. Impotent Rage/Am I Being Clear Now? 
17. Fresh Meat 
18. Therapy And Other Hobbies 
19. Rich Man's Plaything 
20. The Agency Heist 
21. Hillbilly Crank Dealers' Blues 
22. Welcome To Los Santos (Outro) 

3. Tangerine Dream/ Edgar Froese ‘only’ tracks. There are currently three tracks available, firstly Place of Conclusions which you can find on the radio player on TD’s official website. This uses the basic elements used in part of the game (the main melody and the rolling bass sequence as also heard in North Yankton Memories remix by DJ Shadow), but with extra elements added. Two further tracks are also available to download (if you’re member of Tangerine Dream's online club, the TDOC) – namely Living on a Razor Blade & Diary of a Robbery.

* Since I wrote this is even more detail has been released regarding the composition of the score.  It appears that Edgar's musical stems were passed over to Woody Jackson, The Alchemist and Oh No who then added to or remixed them, the same process was repeated when the The Alchemist's and Oh No's stems were passed to Edgar in Vienna. 

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