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Six Strings with... Rod Abernethy

I wanted to thank Rod for the great oppurtunity to chat about his latest release "Rod Abernethy: The Upward Turn [2013]" {CLICK HERE} and the great score work he has done. 

Thank you!
-Jeremy [Retro-Z]

-With a mix of scores under your credits do you prefer video game or film/television work?

Rod Abernethy: I love composing for both film/TV and video games. Both have their differences, but through the years they have become more similar in the way that I create them. Film and TV always allows a more linear approach, and the range for emotion and intensity can vary from low to high. In Video Games, there's usually a limited amount of emotional range and intensity...a low/exploration, mid, and high/confrontation intensity. This goes for almost any style or genre that I'm composing in.

-How much creative control do you have working on any of your projects and where do you find inspiration?

Rod Abernethy: When composing for projects, I'm always given direction by the audio director but I usually have a great amount of control in my scores after we've decided what style and genre is needed for the project. In most cases, they've hired me because they're familiar with my work and trust me to deliver the best music I can create for them.

Finding inspiration can come from many sources. Sometimes I'm given "guide" tracks of pre-existing scores so we can "cut to the chase" of what they're looking for. Other times we start a dialogue from ground zero after I've seen a video clip or gameplay and they say "what do you think"? I'm very lucky to have a vast experience in music to pull from when it comes to inspiration.

-Game music is much more of an art than just music, do you feel that vintage gaming should be remembered in modern gaming and do you have a favorite game modern/vintage/both?

Rod Abernethy: Funny you bring up the question of game music as art, because I'm speaking at the 2013 Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco this year about that same topic. Yes, vintage gaming should always be remembered, just as early silent film is remembered as the early beginnings of the art of cinema. I love the vintage 8-bit game soundtracks, most of those early game composers had to be extremely creative with only three tracks of limited audio. There's a lot of hidden genius in that early stuff.

I have so many favorites of old and new games. To name just a few is hard, but top of my list is for early arcade type games would be TRON and R-Type. Lately, my favorite games are Journey, Diablo III and Mass Effect 3.

-Tell us about your latest release "The Upward Turn" how would classify this music... does it lean more to your game style, film/television or neither?

Rod Abernethy: The Upward Turn is a mixed bag, but hopefully it still sounds like me:) It leans on alternative and ambient electronic, but there are traces of orchestral and rock throughout the could say it's a collection of short stories that I've been carrying around in my head for a couple of years. Many tracks started as recordings that I made of "found objects", like tapping on a metal railing, or bowing a wine glass with a cello bow...things that you don't normally think of as musical objects. Then I use pitch correction, granular synthesis and other digital audio software to mangle and mold them.

-When did you know that this would be the cover for this release and where did this art come from... does it hold a special meaning?

Rod Abernethy: There's a warehouse door in my neighborhood that I walk by going to and from my studio. It's always been a favorite image of mine with it's muted colors, broken in panels and peeling paint....the overall aging of the wood. One day I took my camera and snapped a ton of photos....long before I needed art for the album cover. Then the idea of using these pics came to mind when sequencing the tracks for the album. Special thanks to John Bergin, Lakeshore Record's Art Director, for his crafting the photos into a fantastic cover.

-Where does a typical day begin and end for you, are there typical days?

Rod Abernethy: Great question. A typical day is usually getting up...make coffee,drink coffee...go to the studio...make more coffee, drink
coffee...compose. The end of the day is my favorite time of day when my wife, son and I sit, eat dinner, talk about our day and maybe watch John Stewart. Sometimes I continue composing at night depending on my schedule. And the coffee routine begins again the next day:)

These are not typical days for anyone. I feel like we're all currently living in an accelerated world that's increasing in speed. I'm not exactly sure which direction and where we're headed to. Hopefully listening to this album will help someone slow down for a few helped me slow down while creating it.

1 comment:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

His last thoughts are so profound.
I imagine composing for video games would be more difficult, because it would have to be consistent since the player could be doing anything at the time.
And Diablo III - awesome!