ComposerCast 020 | Interview With Tony Manfredonia

[expand title=”Show Transcript”] 00:00 hello everyone and welcome to episode 20 00:02 of composer cast on this episode I chat 00:05 to the lovely Tony Manfredonia a 00:07 composer and orchestrator based in 00:09 Michigan his music has been played 00:11 across the United States appeared in 00:13 video games used in live theater 00:15 productions and is now published through 00:17 both music spoke and new music shelf so 00:24 yeah you’re at your composer and an 00:27 Orchestrator correct so what’s the 00:30 difference between those two just for 00:31 anyone listening yeah well you know 00:37 composing is purely original I you know 00:40 or in a sense arranging or incorporating 00:44 something that’s public domain you know 00:46 I consider that composing now 00:48 orchestrating you know I’ve not done it 00:52 too much admittedly but I’m always 00:55 studying and I’m always kind of pushing 00:58 for it but orchestrating for example the 01:01 last time I did it someone sent me about 01:04 four minutes worth of music for piano 01:06 that he wanted to you know for full 01:09 orchestra okay what he’s done with what 01:11 he’s done with the music I have no idea 01:12 but it was sort of like you know he saw 01:16 my orchestration tutorial series and was 01:18 like hey like I saw you do orchestration 01:19 like could you orchestrate this so it 01:21 was not any of my music necessarily it 01:25 was his notes his harmony his melody and 01:27 so forth arranged orchestrated for 01:31 Symphony Orchestra essentially so you 01:35 know that I guess that would be the 01:36 difference yeah that makes sense that’s 01:38 cool right yeah um so what was what was 01:41 your experience growing up like what was 01:44 your first instrument how early did you 01:46 start playing ah yeah so I guess so I 01:51 was in second grade which means I was 01:54 roughly seven years old my mom is the 01:57 pianist okay and my dad is a guitarist 02:00 he doesn’t do it professionally but my 02:02 mom does she plays organ and piano for 02:06 church music basically oh yeah and so I 02:11 mean I grew up 02:13 kidding like I was based I would be 02:15 sitting behind her organ like throughout 02:18 church services and stuff so like I kind 02:19 of grew up with a lot of liturgical and 02:22 sacred music um and so she she taught me 02:27 piano when I was roughly seven or eight 02:29 years old so that was like the first 02:31 instrument but I eventually kind of 02:34 leaned more towards the like singing and 02:38 so I still play piano but I didn’t 02:41 really like it wasn’t my secondary 02:43 instrument if you will when I was in 02:44 college like I was composition major 02:46 with a vocal concentration yeah so 02:50 mainly a mainly a vocalist I guess you 02:53 could say but I dunno can oh yeah that’s 02:56 really cool 02:56 I mean yeah piano for me I I know the 03:00 theory behind it I know I think I 03:02 started off with them my mum made me 03:04 take organ lessons so I was doing the 03:06 whole waffle church organ kind of thing 03:08 I never got to play in a real church as 03:10 to one thing I never managed to do but 03:12 on the electric organ and had one of 03:13 those at home but now awesome yeah it’s 03:16 really cool instrument but now when it 03:18 comes to it I know the theory but I 03:19 couldn’t I can’t perform so I don’t 03:21 class myself as like a pianist or an 03:23 organ player I just know how to I can 03:25 write for it but I can’t perform if that 03:28 makes sense right now that makes total 03:30 sense I’m a total sense yeah how did you 03:33 get into composing so what was the first 03:36 sort of inkling that you had that you 03:38 thought oh I really want to write 03:40 something myself yeah and you know it’s 03:43 it’s honestly it happened very late you 03:47 know you think of there’s like the 03:49 composer’s these days oh you know 03:50 they’ve been writing since you read 03:52 their BIOS in writing since age 2 and 03:54 I’m like ah that was not me at all 03:56 I was in high school I was a junior high 04:01 school so my third year and at that time 04:07 I really I was my brother went into 04:09 engineering school I was thinking about 04:11 maybe going into law school but I was 04:13 still I mean I was still like performing 04:15 even the musicals and concerts and 04:17 things and I would cover a lot of rock 04:21 music like piano and singing like 04:23 singer-songwriter type stuff yeah 04:25 I would cover a lot of that and then my 04:29 girlfriend at the time she was like oh 04:30 you should totally try writing something 04:32 and I was like you’ve got to be kidding 04:35 look at that’s never could happen and so 04:38 I just I gave it a whirl I gave it a 04:39 whirl and I loved it 04:41 no granted I don’t write that kind of 04:43 music much anymore 04:45 I do for fun if I ever get it like time 04:47 and a chance like singer-songwriter or 04:49 like alternative rock type but that was 04:52 sort of my origins and so then I went to 04:55 my first year of university and for 05:00 music composition because I decided I 05:01 wanted to major in it but I was very 05:03 naive to the whole thing at my first 05:05 year of college I was like wow there’s 05:06 so much more than the writing music than 05:08 just like what I have been doing right 05:10 um and so I eventually you know kind of 05:13 learned the ropes there and then 05:14 transfer it out and started at a 05:15 different University for the next four 05:17 years because it was it was oh I almost 05:19 feel like that first year of university 05:20 for me was like really learning what 05:21 music composition was okay and then 05:24 actually taking it much more seriously 05:26 the next four years so oh yeah yeah 05:29 that’s pretty cool um so you you’re 05:33 writing some stuff for some video games 05:35 at the moment which I’ll mention in a 05:37 bit 05:38 were there any games of when you’re 05:41 growing up or in adult life that got you 05:43 interested in Brighton for games 05:45 specifically what was the did you have 05:47 anything that really jumped out at you 05:48 yeah oh well my brother might say 05:54 because I have a sister too my siblings 05:55 and I we loved not only the legend is 05:58 all the music but we were like hooked on 06:00 Final Fantasy so you may even remember 06:03 her like if you went to like your local 06:05 game like video game store I know we 06:07 have Game Stop and there was like eb 06:09 games and all the other ones back in 06:11 like the early two-thousands like you 06:12 could go and buy like the Final Fantasy 06:14 soundtracks like on CD at least in the 06:17 at least in the States and you know we 06:20 would we would get soundtracks for games 06:22 for Final Fantasy games have you never 06:23 even played so it was totally like the 06:25 Final Fantasy series and then Legend of 06:28 Zelda Majora’s Mask for me was it was 06:30 like life-changing I still go back to 06:33 that song is that because you you listen 06:36 to it or did you play the game as well 06:38 and then 06:38 that new thought this is amazing play 06:41 the game as well but there was something 06:42 about anything now it’s just so 06:44 distinctly well it’s it’s so distinctly 06:47 koji kondo hmm but it’s also distinctly 06:50 not like any of the other Zelda titles 06:51 there’s so there’s like weird like it’s 06:53 got an e area so she you know the 06:55 darkness to it as well yeah yeah and I 06:59 saw I loved the game but then the music 07:00 too I mean growing up I was what maybe 8 07:02 or 9 whenever that came out and I was 07:04 but I would just I fell in love I was 07:06 like this is unlike anything I’ve heard 07:08 or played before so it was it was really 07:10 cool yeah we didn’t I don’t think in the 07:13 UK at least I didn’t come across any 07:14 place selling like video game music 07:16 there were no CDs or anything like that 07:18 around nothing my yeah I think listening 07:22 to stuff all I could do was play the 07:24 game and be like this is so cool yeah we 07:28 didn’t have no CDs to buy I remember 07:31 sitting there with the Gameboy and my 07:33 friend who had on the podcast two 07:36 episodes ago I think he reminded me that 07:38 we used to sit there together with a 07:39 gameboy between us with the speaker and 07:41 listen to the Zelda soundtrack oh my 07:43 gosh that was how we could that’s how he 07:47 could listen to music whereas now he 07:48 just Spotify you just bring it up you’re 07:50 under fire and it’s done yeah it’s it’s 07:54 a different world now but game there a 07:56 lot of quiet means the Pokemon probably 07:59 one soundtrack to I mean it yeah I just 08:00 kind of grew up always admiring and 08:02 wanting to play the tunes on the piano 08:04 or like banjo kazooie music I’ll always 08:06 go and try to play like treasure trove 08:08 Cove on the piano and never quite able 08:10 to do it but so um you say so you said 08:15 you mainly a singer as well as imposer 08:18 mm-hmm and also you play piano do you 08:21 find that playing an instrument and 08:23 singing do you find that helps with 08:25 writing music and composing yes I 08:31 innocence use my voice for faint 08:34 thinking about thinking of melodies so 08:38 if I’m if I’m writing a lot of content I 08:40 will often find myself humming or just 08:45 you know vocalizing and when it comes to 08:48 harmony and voice leading if I want to 08:52 do a lot of intro 08:52 counterpoint or just even spacing 08:56 between notes the piano was like my 08:58 go-to I rarely ever like kind of play 09:03 and compose at the same time if you will 09:05 like I rarely ever just like place 09:06 nothing and then just write it down 09:08 I will typically just use the piano as a 09:11 tool for where’s the Harmony line 09:14 where’s again counterpoint especially is 09:17 huge I just like to see it very visually 09:19 I work very visual you know but melody 09:23 for me always comes first I always think 09:25 of I’m always singing something you know 09:26 or I’ll be driving and think of a 09:28 melding them record it you know while 09:30 I’m driving or something you know just 09:31 just to document it well that’s really 09:33 cool that we can actually do that now 09:35 for that phone to drive along you know 09:36 it’s done cool but then you get home and 09:38 you’ve still got it there because you’re 09:39 bound to forget right no half an hour 09:41 later yeah oh yeah if you don’t write 09:44 these things down it’s just like I fall 09:46 into that trap too many times I’ve like 09:48 forgetting to document it and I’m like 09:50 dang it 09:54 well you mentioned counterpoint ah could 09:57 you explain to people like me and other 10:01 people listening me exactly what it is 10:03 like I’ve heard the word I might know 10:05 what it is 10:07 yeah good would you be able to explain 10:09 so the best way I like to explain it is 10:13 imagine if you have like let’s say you 10:17 have singer a and singer be okay sing 10:20 your a is singing your melody and then 10:22 sing or be singing a counter melody 10:24 right now it’s two separate lines that 10:27 are interacting with each other 10:29 counterpoint you know as a whole when 10:33 people reference that they often 10:34 reference the rules in a sense that it 10:37 were sort of established by Bach back in 10:41 the 18th century 10:42 okay but really what really when it 10:46 comes down to is basically just musical 10:49 voices a single musical a single line of 10:52 music interacting with other lines of 10:55 music that’s basically the definition so 10:58 for example melody versus baseline or 11:02 you know kind of a harmony line versus 11:04 the base line so it’s basically yeah 11:07 that’s the best way to sum it up that 11:10 makes sense that’s I like that go now I 11:12 understand and hopefully some other 11:14 people who maybe were like me and too 11:16 scared to actually ask what it was they 11:18 understand as well yeah do you have a 11:28 favorite composer by Dead or Alive 11:31 modern anything do you have someone that 11:34 you go back to listen to a lot yeah a 11:37 composer he’s actually become a new 11:39 favorite composer of mine he teaches at 11:41 University of Michigan 11:43 in Michigan but his name is Michael 11:48 Daugherty and he writes the most 11:51 cinematic concert music I think I’ve 11:54 ever heard well he has a lot of music 11:56 for like Wind Symphony or concert band 12:00 and also a lot of stuff at work astre 12:04 but so for example just to put into 12:05 perspective he wrote I forget when he 12:07 wrote it but it was it’s called the the 12:09 metropolis Symphony and this is before 12:12 they were like you know a bunch of 12:15 superhero movies this was when it was 12:16 mainly like comic books and the 12:18 occasional Superman or Batman like old 12:20 school movie yeah but he wrote a 12:21 symphony to kind of coincide with like 12:24 the story of Superman based on the 12:26 comics so like movement one is called 12:28 Lex 12:28 you know like Lex Luthor yes and it is I 12:31 mean it it is the epitome of like 12:33 superhero music before superhero movies 12:35 were a thing it’s incredible 12:38 Michael Daugherty and I honestly like 12:40 because I live about five hours from him 12:41 like I want to just say hey like I’m not 12:44 going to eat University but I will pay 12:46 you to have a less because you’re 12:48 awesome 12:48 you know yeah so he’s great he’s great 12:52 that’s pretty cool oh do you have a 12:57 favorite piece that you’ve composed in 12:59 your career so far is there one piece 13:01 that you you’re really happy and proud 13:03 of wow that is a hard question 13:08 I’m definitely quite proud of and this 13:14 is like I could not normally wander like 13:15 well I could I beat myself up for my 13:18 music you know it’s like I yeah this is 13:21 a horrible question and you composed the 13:22 total question I’m thinking there was 13:26 one well 13:29 yeah it’s like to try to pinpoint the 13:31 most I think what I’m definitely quite 13:33 proud of is my most recent piece for a 13:36 symphony orchestra which is actually 13:38 it’s called sweet from Karen script 13:40 which is a game I’m writing our game I’m 13:44 scoring basically yeah and it’s 13:46 essentially just an orchestral medley of 13:49 three primary tracks all of which you 13:52 can kind of hear on my soundcloud and so 13:55 I wrote it for a Chamber Orchestra where 13:58 I went to school for college they asked 13:59 me for a big alumni concert you know 14:02 would you want to write us a new piece 14:03 sure 14:04 so I wrote a suite of music from Karen 14:10 script which is still in development 14:11 actually as we record this public demo 14:14 just launched today which is exciting 14:17 so I wrote it for chamber courser but I 14:19 also wrote a symphony orchestra version 14:21 which should hopefully be performed next 14:25 October so about a year from now in my 14:27 immediate area like there’s a local 14:29 regional Orchestra that we’re in kind of 14:32 figuring out when it would be best to 14:34 perform it but we’re thinking next 14:35 October 14:36 but uh and I’m very I feel like it’s 14:38 almost like innocents like the magnum 14:40 opus of my vision of like video game 14:42 music meets concert music and it kind of 14:43 like really combines that you know so 14:46 I’d have to say that there’s a lot of 14:49 things to that’s a hard question that 14:52 must be that must be such a good feeling 14:54 to hear your music performed by people 14:57 and especially in your local area to 14:59 have people playing your music that must 15:02 be so good it’s very it’s very humbling 15:04 to be honest because it’s it’s you know 15:06 you think that they could have chosen 15:07 the girl chosen anyone but they chose 15:10 someone you know nearby it’s yeah it’s 15:14 it’s quite surreal at times 15:16 [Music] 16:48 so you learn orchestration at at 16:51 university at college so right correct 16:54 yeah yeah are there any any books or 16:57 anything or youtube tutorials or 16:59 anything you’d recommend people who want 17:02 to learn orchestration that they they go 17:03 find absolutely and you know I have it 17:06 right here 17:07 so you mentioned um you know I learned 17:11 like orchestration 101 at college but 17:14 just given given the style of music that 17:16 I write I mean since then I have read 17:19 this book almost at like literally 17:21 annually and it’s one I’ve recommended 17:23 to you way back when you did but this 17:25 book is like this is like the best 17:29 starting point its principles of 17:31 orchestration by rimsky-korsakov and I 17:34 mean I haven’t highlighted and dog-eared 17:37 and bookmark it’s it is a scent 17:40 I personally think it’s essential if you 17:42 want to learn how to effectively write 17:43 for the orchestra because it gives you 17:46 the foundation of like what 17:48 orchestration was like in the Romantic 17:50 period so like the 19th century 20th 17:54 century really and you can apply the 17:58 knowledge to so many different styles 17:59 then I just can’t I can’t live without 18:01 it yeah I think like if you’re starting 18:04 out orchestration that’s your best one 18:06 because there’s other ones like there’s 18:07 another one I’m reading right now called 18:09 textures and Tambor’s by Henry Brandt 18:14 okay and it’s a little bit more complex 18:16 it’s definitely like you want to be able 18:18 to be it’s almost like like that’s after 18:21 you level up and gain some experience 18:22 points then because it’s like it’s it’s 18:25 very I mean even for me it’s just hard 18:26 to read his phrasing sometimes like it 18:28 you have to really think about it yeah 18:31 it’s need the first one you recommend it 18:33 I mean I’ve read a little bit but I was 18:36 reading it while composing a piece and I 18:39 have to say it helped massively because 18:40 it said oh well this instrument goes 18:42 with this one and why don’t you try 18:43 using the clarinet at the same time he’s 18:45 using the yes viola or something and 18:47 they go well together so they’ll really 18:49 use actually and these let’s up and do 18:52 he’s got the string and 18:53 in the Browse section as well I think so 18:55 everything’s not clear about how to do 18:57 it right and then you get to see it 18:59 visually too like he’ll give you samples 19:01 of like his his own works yeah kind of 19:04 seeing it in action if you will and it’s 19:07 yeah it’s very I mean it’s it’s one of 19:09 those books for when you read it once I 19:10 don’t you read it again because if you 19:12 don’t you want to make sure you don’t 19:13 miss any bit yeah so well this leads on 19:16 nicely to my next question of why do you 19:19 think the orchestra has lasted such such 19:22 a long time like all the way from 17th 19:24 century to being used in like modern 19:27 films and games there that’s a great 19:30 question I mean I personally believe 19:34 it’s because the orchestra encompasses 19:36 you know all acoustic instruments if you 19:40 will not all of them of course there’s 19:42 there’s hundreds I mean hundreds of 19:44 instruments out there but generally 19:47 things that the most widespread acoustic 19:50 instruments that don’t require any type 19:52 of electronic interface yeah you can go 19:56 from you could literally have in a piece 19:58 of music well I just want this section 20:00 to be this just like the single flutist 20:02 in the back of the orchestra just one 20:04 flutist to two seconds later how the 20:07 entire orchestra playing the same exact 20:09 thing but I mean it fills the room yeah 20:12 so I think it’s lasted so long because 20:13 of not only its versatility but it’s its 20:16 power both in large and small scales 20:19 it’s flexibility and how to create 20:22 certain sounds I just think it is the 20:26 essential ensemble to achieve the most 20:31 like the widest array of sounds colors 20:35 emotions and everything in between 20:38 and I think that specifically as whites 20:41 lived on so long because it’s it’s it’s 20:43 almost become like ingrained in our 20:46 culture like yeah it won’t die out yeah 20:49 no I completely agree um it blew my mind 20:53 when I realized if you have a full-size 20:54 keyboard or piano like that is the range 20:58 of the orchestra as well you could write 20:59 for the whole orchestra on that piano 21:00 and all the different pieces right oh 21:02 yeah oh yeah it’s crazy yeah I really 21:05 like that but I think you’re right the 21:06 orchestra can be 21:07 so dynamic like going from the tiniest 21:09 little thing to something massive 21:12 I mean I’ve saw one of the best 21:15 performances I saw was a gladiator at 21:18 the Royal Albert Hall the film oh wow I 21:20 had the orchestra like full size 21:22 orchestra performing performing that and 21:25 chills just thinking about it that’s 21:27 amazing and din the Royal a behold as 21:30 well with that sound and the acoustics 21:31 and everything that was I’m not sure how 21:33 I could top that experience but yeah 21:36 yeah that’s cool 21:38 that blew me away that’s really good 21:40 right what do you find the the most fun 21:45 thing about composing and what do you 21:47 find the most challenging thing yeah 21:50 that is an awesome awesome question most 21:53 fun I find to be like the actual 21:57 creative process so the actual writing 22:01 the melody writing the I mean error I 22:03 mean the actual writing process of 22:04 putting notes on a page figuring out the 22:06 counterpoint the structures start to 22:08 finish how it begins and ends that I 22:10 find the most fun I could do that day in 22:13 day out without complaint 22:14 so do you where I physically write it 22:16 down are you there but the manuscript 22:18 like no so I don’t do manage to convey 22:20 per but I do directly notate into 22:22 Sibelius so i do i always use notation 22:24 software first yeah and I love that is 22:28 that helps you officially just see it 22:31 better or just that’s what you’re used 22:33 to and yeah cool you know that’s that’s 22:37 sort of how I learned to compose was and 22:39 how I mean if you study a score by 22:41 Stravinsky yeah you’re looking at music 22:43 so if you want to like kind of think 22:46 about their orchestration their I also 22:48 it also helps translate the knowledge I 22:50 learned by also working in sheet music 22:52 if that makes sense yeah you can hear it 22:54 almost while reading it yeah right and 22:58 then of course you can then I export the 22:59 MIDI and go into Cubase so all the notes 23:02 all the harmony all that is there and 23:04 then it’s just a matter of adjusting the 23:06 MIDI data and the key switches and all 23:08 all of that stuff for the virtual 23:10 instruments would I find most 23:13 challenging and granted there can be 23:14 creative blocks and that could be 23:15 challenging but what I find most 23:16 challenging in the field of writing for 23:18 games as really 23:20 like the production side of things okay 23:22 so compression EQ you know mastering 23:26 mixing like I’ve been doing it for a 23:29 while a so I can get on down I’ve gotten 23:31 a hang of it you know there’s always 23:32 room to improve don’t get me wrong like 23:33 I have a lot of room to improve in that 23:35 department but it’s because it’s not 23:39 it’s not like what I sort of went to 23:41 school for it’s almost like us it’s B 23:43 it’s been very much a self-taught 23:45 process I guess over the last four or 23:48 five years that I’ve had to just kind of 23:51 figure my way up through it through 23:53 talking with others and reading books 23:54 and watching videos that I can I can 23:58 find myself getting frustrated when I I 23:59 can’t do something as naturally as I can 24:01 like actually notating the music you 24:04 know yeah like that side comes very it’s 24:06 almost like second nature whereas the 24:08 production is like like this isn’t quite 24:11 what I’m trying I have to like just 24:13 takes me a little bit more time to kind 24:15 of weed my way through the mud oh yeah 24:17 nice like the music is already there as 24:19 well you just I want it to sound good 24:21 why does it sound good right yeah you 24:23 have to go through all the tweaking and 24:24 everything here so that can be 24:27 frustrating and again it’s it’s would 24:30 have been different if I went to like 24:31 Berkeley for you know audio production 24:33 or something but right so it’s been just 24:36 a process again I’ve gotten to where I 24:38 am which is which is great but it’s 24:41 still like I have to do so I always have 24:44 to be learning about it and that can be 24:45 time-consuming and tasking and you know 24:48 yeah one on that topic do you have any 24:51 favorite well first of all any favorite 24:54 like maybe virtual instruments that you 24:56 use for orchestration and have any 24:58 favorite plugins when you are sort of 25:00 mixing and mastering yes so if I’m doing 25:05 orchestral music I’m doing a test for 25:07 music I have been using East West 25:12 Hollywood strings Hollywood brass 25:14 Hollywood woodwinds 25:16 I mean basically their entire Orchestra 25:18 library I have been using East West for 25:20 I guess the past was it 2018 25:22 past three years I bought before they 25:24 did the cloud before they did a catalyst 25:26 or cloud I bought one of those they 25:28 would do like these composer collection 25:29 like USB hard drives yeah 25:32 that’s exactly oh really yeah 25:37 so I’ve been using them just cuz and 25:40 I’ve learned how to make them sound in 25:42 my opinion at least sound pretty good 25:44 just because I sort of know it inside 25:46 and out you know I know all the key 25:48 switches I know how it all works I think 25:50 that’s a really good point right there 25:51 is that you know you spent the time with 25:54 that library and you know how to use it 25:56 and make it do what you want it to do 25:58 whereas I think a lot of people fall 26:00 into the trap of all new string 26:02 libraries come out so they’ll buy that 26:03 and like they’ll hear Albion barn and 26:05 they’ll get that one because it sounds 26:06 so lovely and lush but then they bring 26:09 another one right oh yeah and don’t get 26:11 me wrong like if I had the extra money 26:14 to buy fire right now yeah like and when 26:17 every single one of their libraries is 26:19 about a thousand dollars it’s like wow 26:22 that would be great because really it is 26:24 a brilliant library and it does sound 26:26 better probably than the string library 26:28 I’m using it would it would take so much 26:31 more time and money to figure out how do 26:33 I now how do I make this sound as good 26:35 as I’ve been making these other things 26:37 sound good with the strings that I’ve 26:39 been using yeah 26:40 and it’s a tough it’s a tough gamble you 26:42 know it’s like ah but I really should 26:44 get it because everyone uses it but I 26:46 don’t really want to 26:49 so yeah this it is it is almost like 26:52 making the most out of what you do have 26:54 you know it doesn’t make sense to do it 26:56 especially financially you know to 26:57 invest in all these libraries yeah well 27:00 completely like with my um my box with a 27:02 pillow shoved in it that I’m using right 27:03 now making exactly what I’ve got you go 27:07 there you go 27:08 Karen’s crypt is coming out for steam 27:12 and did I see it’s coming up for this 27:13 switch as well absolutely yeah that’s I 27:16 mean loads of indie games are coming up 27:18 for the switch at the moment is this 27:19 have really it’s funny yeah oh it’s 27:21 amazing 27:22 yeah the from what I’ve heard so I went 27:25 on the website had a listen and I’ll 27:26 link everything in the podcast notes it 27:29 has a very like old-school kind of video 27:32 game sound like ps1 that kind of era for 27:35 someone who writes a lot full orchestra 27:37 how did you achieve that more like retro 27:39 sound was there a difference or did you 27:41 yeah you know you saw if I buy my mind 27:43 like notation 27:44 template for Orchestra you know has the 27:46 fluids plug you know all of that so I 27:49 will I would I would start with that but 27:52 when you when you go for the old-school 27:54 video game sound you can’t accomplish 27:56 that full you know all the instruments 28:01 in a sense playing at the same time 28:02 because then it just sounds like a mud 28:04 of like sine waves so you know I kind of 28:09 had I kind of had to break things down 28:11 like sometimes I’ll even just put like 28:12 okay here’s the woodwind line for this 28:14 track not the flute not the clarinet I’m 28:16 a name it clarinet or something but you 28:19 know I think of like okay maybe two 28:20 wooden lines two brass lines because if 28:23 you want to sound in a sense kind of 28:25 like authentic but also a little bit 28:26 modern yeah you know I kind of have to 28:28 break things down a little bit and of 28:31 course the retro sound that I’ve been 28:32 using has been from the super have you 28:37 heard of super audio cart yes I love 28:39 super audio cut it’s amazing yeah so 28:43 I’ve been using that because the 28:45 graphical style is shooting for like the 28:48 gameboy color 28:48 you know it definitely has a little bit 28:50 of a modern flair to it but at the same 28:53 time the music in a sense reflects that 28:55 so it has you know almost like Super 28:59 Nintendo 29:00 so like 16-bit samples yeah sort of 29:03 mixed with 8-bit chiptune moments like 29:07 there’s various moments throughout all 29:08 of the tracks where I will have either a 29:11 little bit like a little fugue or a 29:13 little cannon going on of just like 29:15 8-bit almost like it I literally haven’t 29:18 listed as 8-bit organ is what I would do 29:20 almost like I’m writing an organ 16 bar 29:22 phrase for organ yeah it’s kind of in 29:25 the style of Bach cuz that’s sort of 29:26 what the developers want it that it’ll 29:28 it would sound like it’s just you know 29:30 four channels 8-bit chip tunes basically 29:34 yeah and so it’s almost like a it’s 29:37 almost like a retro modern blend if that 29:39 makes sense 29:40 yeah definitely well I’ve yet that stuff 29:43 I’ve heard so far sounds pretty good so 29:44 definitely the thank you to listening to 29:46 the rest of it thank you yeah I won’t 29:49 spoil too much but uh I like toward the 29:52 end like I know I’m working on I’m not 29:53 done the soundtrack yet I have a few 29:55 tracks left but you know there are 29:56 moments where now I’m starting to 29:57 incorporate 29:58 like a touch of a hint of like live type 30:03 sounding instruments were button like 30:05 slightly bitch bit crushed so it’s not 30:08 like it’s just orchestra but it’s almost 30:11 like well that doesn’t sound like either 30:13 16 bit or 18 bit instrument but 30:15 something in between yeah I don’t know 30:17 I’m certain experiment a little bit as I 30:19 finish the sound track to close off with 30:21 a bang yeah 30:22 you’re also writing for is it cool of 30:25 Saron go ah well so the it would be call 30:29 of stearic nor so okay that’s okay yeah 30:35 call of Sarah Connor yeah so that is 30:38 that that is probably that is like it 30:41 the long term project I’ve been using or 30:43 working on so I’ve been working on sort 30:46 of a few and like carrot script is a 30:47 little bit smaller and scale that coughs 30:49 I ignore I did like I’m working on sort 30:51 of a zombie like Vox will call rot purge 30:55 much smaller scale than call us a ganar 30:58 so called Sargon was kind of like the 30:59 thing that’s always going on in the 31:00 background that I’m working on kind of 31:04 in the style of the game itself is kind 31:07 of in a style if you think of like 31:08 Daggerfall or Mike magic sort of like 31:11 those early 90s games like yeah yeah so 31:20 the music though is not we were toying 31:24 with like doing it making it sound like 31:27 it was straight out of the 90s like 31:28 speakers like a theater speakers with 31:31 sort of like a loaf i early MIDI type 31:34 sounds but it wasn’t working like it 31:38 just didn’t really beat sound pleasing 31:39 to kind of listen to okay so like hours 31:43 on end you know 31:46 so we sort of really reappropriation 32:01 realistic sound now again using a lot of 32:05 the east-west libraries for that so I am 32:08 approaching the music for call us Eric 32:10 and are like as if I were scoring it for 32:12 a live ensemble you know it like just as 32:14 if I’m writing an orchestral piece of 32:17 music yeah yeah so definitely a little 32:20 bit different than Karen script and that 32:21 it’s I don’t feel like I have to limit 32:24 it now it’s I’m almost just okay well 32:26 here’s the orchestral soundtrack you 32:28 know pretty straightforward 32:30 [Music] 32:50 [Music] 33:09 it sounds cool um do you have any I mean 33:13 I went to an event yesterday called 33:15 screen music Connect and it was all 33:17 about writing music for film and TV and 33:20 games and one of the things that they 33:22 said there was that you should always 33:24 have if you have the time you should 33:26 always have a passion project like a 33:28 site thing that you’re doing just for 33:30 you I was wondering if you have 33:31 something like that going on 33:33 oh yeah well in a sense you could say 33:37 that well I wouldn’t say called stars of 33:42 a passion project it is what it is a 33:44 long-term project that kind of fits its 33:46 way in between everything else yeah but 33:48 that is that I mean that is a that is a 33:49 job you know but in terms of like a 33:51 passion project to be honest I have 33:56 recorded so I know I said I don’t really 33:58 write much singer-songwriter type stuff 34:00 anymore but I did last I guess it was 34:02 like in February so almost like a year 34:04 ago now I do whenever a fine time I will 34:07 write stuff that like you know you you 34:10 throw on pop radio or something where I 34:13 do have fun doing that and I do that 34:15 whenever I’m just kind of feeling stuck 34:17 with my other stuff I’m like you know I 34:19 just need to take a break and have fun 34:20 with some music so I am right now I’d 34:24 say it might take a while but I have 34:25 recorded music and I’d like to kind of 34:28 start just rating it a little bit I have 34:30 like virtual drum libraries and guitar 34:32 again also east-west and some other and 34:35 other other companies to just like 34:37 orchestrate them and put and just 34:38 produce an album basically so that’s it 34:41 started I haven’t really made much 34:43 headway but that is sort of my next in a 34:46 sense like background project yeah so do 34:49 you would you go to that let’s say I 34:52 don’t know if you have any tips for if 34:54 you get like writer’s block if you’re 34:57 trying to write something and you just 34:58 get a bit stuck would you if there’s no 35:00 deadline looming would you go to that 35:01 and maybe play around with that sort of 35:04 stuff for oh yeah oh my goodness yeah 35:06 absolutely play around with that or even 35:09 just sometimes it just to be honest just 35:13 like stepping away like in terms of 35:15 creative with no looming deadlines again 35:17 if you have one of those just that’s no 35:19 time good yeah drink a can a Red Bull 35:21 and good luck but when there’s nothing 35:25 really looming you know just I’m I think 35:28 you I’m an advocate of just go outside 35:31 like go just you know if it’s nice out 35:33 under if it’s not just just go and do 35:36 something that doesn’t involve that side 35:38 of your brain because in my experience 35:39 it’s like the ideas will come if and if 35:45 you’re like trying to force it you’re 35:46 probably just gonna end up like throwing 35:48 it out tomorrow which can be fine maybe 35:51 that means you get rid of the gunk which 35:53 is good but sometimes I find just you 35:55 know doing something fun entirely 35:57 different reading reading fiction is 35:59 huge I’m just like or just like reading 36:02 short stories yeah just to kind of use a 36:04 different side of my brain and then it I 36:06 tend to just kind of feel more ready to 36:09 come back to the music yeah well that 36:11 makes that makes perfect sense right we 36:14 are on the penultimate question so this 36:17 is this is your egg one and what are 36:19 your dreams and goals for the future 36:21 what what do you want to achieve say 36:23 it’s 20 years from now what would you 36:26 have liked to have achieved this is a 36:29 big question I know I know that is a big 36:32 question and you know I I really truly 36:34 don’t want this to come off as as 36:35 sounding pompous or or or anything but I 36:39 would love to score and this is like a 36:42 huge goal that who knows I would love to 36:45 score some game that’s actually 36:48 published by Nintendo and have it 36:50 recorded by the orchestra you know you I 36:53 don’t have you’ve seen the little clips 36:54 they’ve been posting of like you know 36:56 recording the music of aqua path 36:57 traveller or recording the music over 36:59 like Super Mario Odyssey alright 37:01 Illinois’s king that oh yeah you 37:03 probably have to sift through some 37:04 history with a Nintendo of America or 37:06 Europe um Twitter page but they they do 37:09 post them from time to time okay and I’m 37:11 like ah like that would be the that 37:14 would be the biggest dream of mine if 37:17 not published like a game published by 37:19 Nintendo because the indie game industry 37:21 is now becoming such a big thing that 37:23 I’m really and I’m really enjoying it 37:25 that I’d be happy just to 37:27 recording a soundtrack for an indie game 37:30 you know fund a funded recording session 37:33 with an orchestra for the soundtrack of 37:35 an indie game like that that alone is a 37:37 big enough dream and goal for me 37:39 you know I had to kill that I’d love to 37:42 have that happen you know there’s 37:44 something there’s something about you 37:47 think of when you you can because you 37:48 can always tell when it when the game 37:49 has a live orchestra recording versus 37:52 something that’s sampled yeah that was 37:55 another day yeah yeah it can still sound 37:58 brilliant but there’s there’s still such 38:01 an expression that gonna be achieved by 38:03 humans that can’t be accomplished by you 38:07 know programming definitely they said 38:09 their point was that with and they were 38:12 talking about AI at the time as well 38:14 about the whole you know AI writing 38:16 music but they were saying that if 38:18 you’re recording with like MIDI 38:20 instruments planned samples and 38:22 everything you you just can’t get as 38:25 much emotion in there as you do with the 38:28 life yeah you don’t get all the squeaks 38:29 you don’t get the little slightly out of 38:31 tune and everything’s just everything’s 38:33 100% quantized and perfect at the moment 38:35 right right and you know you can you can 38:39 tweak it in ways but again it’s like if 38:43 you think about you know a conductor 38:46 standing in front of an orchestra rarely 38:48 is it rarely are they so on point that 38:51 the tempo never fluctuates yeah you know 38:54 I think of something that’s more legato 38:55 and evocative the tempo marking maybe 38:58 what like quarter equals 84 like all 16 39:01 bars but if a conductor is doing that 39:03 it’s not gonna be that specific you know 39:06 and it follows the inste the conductor 39:10 as well oh yeah oh yeah and so like when 39:13 you lose that again it gets still sound 39:16 fabulous but there’s something I mean 39:20 you know and Zoey will know there’s 39:22 something about a live orchestra that 39:23 just it’s like the ultimate experience 39:26 yeah yeah all right so to finish if you 39:32 had one tip for your younger self or 39:34 maybe a composer out there who’s just 39:37 starting out and wanting to get into 39:39 orchestration and videogames what would 39:42 you tell them don’t be afraid to just 39:48 just work with someone don’t be afraid 39:50 to do a game jam don’t be afraid to just 39:54 like start making music even if like a 39:57 year or even six months later you’re 39:59 like wow like I’ve really improved over 40:02 this I’m just not gonna show this 40:03 anymore but just start making stuff like 40:06 don’t be afraid to say I want to work in 40:09 this industry and I’m gonna write music 40:12 for game jams or it just saw uh you know 40:14 a developer friend just something for 40:16 fun if you’re just starting out the best 40:20 thing you can do is to just get that 40:21 experience you know the reality is 40:24 you’re not gonna be able to just start 40:25 out you know well I just learned how to 40:27 write you know on on sheet music now I’m 40:29 gonna get paid a hundred thousand 40:31 dollars a year like that just doesn’t 40:32 happen but let me not just what’s that 40:37 it would be nice if it did but yeah oh 40:39 yeah oh my gosh yeah you get your degree 40:41 and here’s your salary for the rest of 40:43 your life that would be great 40:45 but it’s just it’s digging into the 40:49 music and learn as you go 40:50 you know just learn as you go you’re not 40:53 gonna know everything from the get-go 40:54 and you’re gonna be doing yourself a 40:55 disservice if you just say well I have 40:57 to wait till I learn more it’s like no 40:59 like apply with apply what you know now 41:02 yeah and just keep making it keep 41:04 getting that portfolio rolling and 41:06 eventually just you learn as you go and 41:08 you just you you improve your a year 41:10 after year yeah I think not being not 41:13 being afraid of other people’s opinions 41:15 is important as well because you can get 41:17 so scared at the beginning of putting 41:19 anything out there because someone on 41:21 YouTube some person you don’t know is 41:23 going to comment and say well this was 41:24 crap I don’t like this and yeah I think 41:26 what really holds a lot of people back 41:28 yeah and that’s this it’s a you kind of 41:32 have to in a sense toughen up a little 41:35 bit drive for those cup 41:36 I mean it’s win-win and if they do come 41:38 I mean you don’t know then that’s the 41:39 scary part you just don’t know if you’re 41:40 gonna get a comment like that yeah 41:42 but when you do you just can’t really 41:44 take it to heart you just to say you 41:45 know what I’m still learning I’m so I’m 41:47 still growing people comment on like 41:48 people’s people now say some of the 41:51 final thing 41:51 see soundtracks are awful I’m like you 41:54 know it’s it’s like the people people 41:56 will make a stink about it just about 41:58 anything so it’s like you just kind of 42:00 have to just deal with tastic yeah yeah 42:03 cool 42:04 well I just want to say thank you very 42:06 much for coming on the podcast it’s been 42:08 a real real pleasure chatting with you 42:09 hey well thank you for having me thank 42:12 you for this podcast it’s huge 42:14 I mean I I know I’ve been listening here 42:16 and there and I know some other folks 42:17 are listening to so this is it’s really 42:19 something special so thank you 42:20 so thank you very much again to Tony 42:23 Manfredonia for being such an awesome 42:25 guest go and check out his music check 42:27 out the games cool of sarig na and Karen 42:30 script and I will leave you with a track 42:33 from call of Serignar that Tony wrote 42:35 called a deadly encounter see ya 42:50 [Applause] 42:52 [Music] 43:44 you 43:46 [Music] [/expand]

Show Notes

On this episode, I chat to Tony Manfredonia, a composer and orchestrator based in Michigan. His music has been played across the United States, appeared in video games, used in live theatre productions and is now published through both MusicSpoke and New Music Shelf.

You can find out more about Tony on his website manfredoniamusic.com

Check out the games Tony is composing the music for:

Listen to more of Tony’s music over on SoundCloud

Read the orchestration book Tony recommends in this episode: Principles of Orchestration

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