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Composing Signature Game Themes

One of the most important skills a game composer needs is the ability to compose distinctive, compelling and memorable themes. In addition to providing the “heart and soul” of the gaming experience, a game theme is a branding device – it defines the genre, story, characters, worlds, even the target markets and platforms of the game. Game composers audition for scoring jobs by demo-ing a ‘spec’ theme. And when they are hired on a job, the first piece they compose is the Game Theme. 

I wrote an analysis of one of my favorite game themes – “Gears of War” 2 Main Theme by Steve Jablonsky. The sample maker Output published it on their website (link below). Enjoy!

This is the first blog of a series of blogs on composing game themes, so stay tuned for the continuation discussing topics such as: how to deconstruct the client’s brief for a spec theme; how to hone in on the style/genre; how to get inspired and compose a memorable theme (motif, riff, chord changes, “hook,” formal structure); how to arrange the “sound” (instrumental palette) based on a thorough knowledge of game genres & musical styles.