During my Advanced Interactive Audio class we are assigned a project called the “Music Racer”.
The task was to create 6 different musical loops, 2 for each lap of a racing level in a game. You needed to loops for an A and B effect, one loop would be chosen randomly to play to keep the audience entertained. We also created a “First Place” layer, that played over any one of the loops to let you know you were winning.
Finally there was a Boost item that would make you go faster, so we had to create a loop that would play as you boosted, and 2 different pickup sounds, one as you picked up the boost, and one for the boost charging up. I played and recorded the Bass and Electric Guitars and synthesized all the Boost sounds from scratch.
When I began designing my loops for the Racer Map, I knew I wanted it to be organic sounding, and positive. I started off with a 4/4 drum beat with some shakers and hats to incorporate movement and excitement. I also knew I wanted the loops to evolve as your progress through the race, but have their own feeling. I designed two different loops for lap 1 that were essentially the same, with a four on the floor kick pattern, but changed the shaker rhythms to keep it entertaining.
Also in that video you can hear the “First Place” loop, which layers over whichever # Lap loop is playing. I wanted it to let you know something had changed, but not overpower the lap loop that was playing at the time. Also in that video you can hear the Boost Pickup sound, which I designed from scratch using the Operator synth in Ableton Live.
When I was designing the sound, I knew what I wanted to hear from being a fan of Star Wars and Star Trek movies, but I didn’t know how to create it. I started messing around with the fixed frequency option of Operator and automated it to rise in pitch, along with an Auto-Filter plugin that had a very thin Q bandwidth to create the “neeaarrrooh” sound.
When creating my Boost loop, I knew I wanted it to sound weird and modulated, but since it turned off the music, I didn’t want it to disrupt the pattern of the music, so I took the Lap 1 loop and applied a ringshifter to it, giving it this weird disrupted feeling, but it still held the pattern and feeling the music gave the listener.
You can also hear the Lap 2 loop I created, in which I added a bassline to create evolution and interest. I used a bassline that rose and fell, so that the excitement would rise and fall, but wasn’t a present point in the loop so the listener would still be immersed in the race.
Here you can hear the Lap 3 loop, where the guitars enter to accompany the bassline. It was hard to create a guitar pattern that didn’t sound like it looped in 2 bars, so I used simple quarter and eighth note chugs, because the sound very similar and don’t alert the listener to the fact that they loop.