August 2, 2011

An Orchestra of One – Chapter 8: Song – Hunt for the Orb

Filed under: Music,Orchestra of One,Writing — Screenhog @ 9:23 am

A few weeks ago, I linked to a video that showed Mech Mice, the project I’m working on for Rocketsnail Games. The background music was part of a larger song I was working on, and here is the finished song 1 (you can also find the song added to the Music Player).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Now, I’ve been giving composing advice for the last two months. Would you like to see how I used my own advice to help compose this song? (If not, just enjoy the music… if yes, click the link below.)

Still with me? Great!

The first step was to find out what type of song to make. Let’s look at the Chapter 4 questions, and see how some of those questions were answered:

What message should the song convey? The most important part of this particular song was the message. It needed to tell the following story (I’ve included the approximate times for each part of the story):

  • night falls on the Mech Mice world (0:00-0:27)
  • the Mech Mice team assembles, with Nightshade doing recon (0:27-1:21)
  • suddenly, the team is attacked by insects (1:22-2:10)
  • team defeats insects, but is then attacked by a larger predator (2:11-2:43)
  • battle ends, but war is not over (2:44-3:15)

Is it like a song that already exists? Well, I was given pretty free reign to explore musical styles. However, one thing that was mentioned was the TRON: Legacy soundtrack, with its mix of strings and electronic instruments. I’ll talk more about this later.

Are there graphical elements that go along with the music? Yes. Most of the concept art that has been shown publicly for Mech Mice helped to inspire this song. Right now, you can see it at, but later it should be on the Mech Mice homepage.

What instruments make sense? TRON: Legacy used mostly electronic instruments, but had a large string section for the more dramatic moments. I decided that the best way to use this would be to have the regular orchestral instruments by themselves when the Mech Mice are only surrounded by nature, but when they are threatened or attacked, electronic instruments would come in as well. I didn’t really pursue this idea very far in this song, but I’ll try to add a larger electronic influence in future Mech Mice songs.

In Chapter 6, I spoke of how instruments could share the load between one another. This song is full of that. It’s a little difficult to provide examples, but notice that there are very few times when the melody is played by a single instrument. Usually, there’s at least one more instrument from another section backing it up.

In Chapter 7, I mention Composer’s Block, and I had it a few times with this song. For instance, I couldn’t think of the right melody to end the song with. It wasn’t until driving home from work one day that the ending hit me. I recorded myself humming this while I was stopped at an intersection 2:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The first part is the trumpet/violin melody, and the second part is the lower string bass line.

So, I hope that gives some insight into how the song was made!

Next: Chapter 9 – MIDI Trickery
Previous: Chapter 7 – Composer’s Block


  1. This song is owned by Rocketsnail Games. Used here with permission.
  2. How did I record myself? I have an app on my cell phone for this, which I’ll talk about in a future chapter. Oh, and never talk into a cell phone and drive at the same time. I waited until I knew I’d be stopped for enough time to do this.


  1. You could totally compose awesome music for movies with this talent.

    Comment by Trainman1405 — August 2, 2011 @ 9:27 am

  2. I hope to, someday. Actually, my song “Nova” in the music player was composed specifically as an audition for a possible feature film job.

    Comment by Screenhog — August 2, 2011 @ 9:30 am

  3. I love the violins in there, and the bug attack part. If Mech Mice became a TV show it would be cool to see what you come up with for the theme song.
    You rock Screenhog.

    Comment by Hunter Ashe is Feey1 — August 2, 2011 @ 11:42 am

  4. The song portrays the story very well. The use of dynamics it are also very well done and the melody is just pure awesomeness xD Nice Job!

    Comment by revgreen — August 2, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

  5. Great stuff, love the vibe. I am a hack musician and really love what you have created. Composing it a true artform. Best to you and L, from me in YK, NWT.


    Comment by Taylor Moore — August 3, 2011 @ 8:11 am

  6. Hi ScreenHog. I really like the song you wrote called “Cardinal Flight” could you please email me the sheet music to play it on the piano? I included my email address with this comment. Thanks! I really appreciate it.

    Comment by Andy — August 5, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  7. [...] here to read the whole post and listen to the full tape for the mission “Running to the [...]

    Pingback by Screenhog’s Full Tape of “Running to the Orb” | Mech Mice Blog | Cheats 2011 — August 6, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

  8. 1:43-2:10 – The best part in my opinion, that electronic thing on the background really improves the main song.
    There are lots of popular/good games with poor music, this game already has a great track. The game has to be at least at the same standard.

    Comment by Andreylaur — February 15, 2012 @ 9:24 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress