Orchestral Puzzle Stragety – Music Replacement

I’ve been writing lately at two ends of a spectrum: either high energy or very mellow and atmospheric. Wanted to try my hand at some puzzle music but specifically using orchestral instruments. Searching for a suitable puzzle game didn’t take long; I’ve spent many hours playing Carcassonne. It’s a fantastic tile based strategy game on both the tabletop and Xbox 360, and I can easily lose an afternoon playing either.

The music I composed here is somewhat similar to the original, and I was no doubt influenced by the soundtrack. We share a duple meter, but I slowed my tempo down to a loping amble so the 2-feel is strong but relaxed. The effect represents my interpretation of the gameplay. It’s hypnotizing, calming my focus so I’m only aware of the game. I’m very much a fan of this kind of state of awareness while playing games, and it’s reflected in a lot of my music. The ambient music I wrote for Spec Ops is an example.

Thoughtful use of woodwinds makes the music playful in the beginning. While the basses and cellos lope along, a bassoon dances around the downbeats with short staccato passages. An oboe shares the stage and highlights a sweet a melody, draping notes over the pulse and rhythm so the ear isn’t distracted by the momentum of the low instruments. The melody is subtly supported by a harp, adding an ethereal texture that is easily missed but certainly felt. The melodic passage is short, however, so the strings support the oboe by adopting the melody, allowing the ear to focus on a new timbre.

To preserve the sweetness of the melody, the strings quickly relinquish it to the french horns who take the music in a new direction. Now, a tambourine enters and softly coaxes the pulse to stay alive while the basses and cellos switch to long legato notes. The flutes and oboe foster the new melody, providing simple counterpoint underneath the horns, and then the song is complete. It’s a simple AAB form that could easily repeat, especially with a new section, or even variation added to melody or orchestration.

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