I wanted to sit down with Gabor, our audio expert and discuss music-making for a while now because that is a subject I was always curious about. He does all sorts of sounds and music for Flatstone Grove. He is exceptionally talented, and I wanted to know how the music is born in his ‘studio’, where he gets his inspiration, and what happens when he can’t find the right tunes.
Hi Gabor, so tell me, how do you make music?
(Laughing) It is more complex than I could answer it so quickly. Usually, I chat with Csaba or Magdi, and we discuss the type of music or the tune we would like to use in the cartoon or a game. When we decide, I start to think about the tune, playing with a few instruments to see if something sticks in my mind.
How do you choose the instruments?
Well, it mostly depends on the mood of the melody I need to create. I have a set of instruments in my mind for certain types of music, so I always start with them. Then I bring into the melody another, often unusual tool. I like to experiment with unique combinations.
Like in the last one, I used a hybrid harp-guitar combo, which you can’t really hear in these types of tunes, especially relaxing ones.
So you choose the instruments, and what happens after?
I play a few melodies, try to have a grasp on any of the ones I like. If my brain is blocked or I can’t get on the right track, I leave it and try to do something else. Listening to very different types of music usually helps. If not, I take a shower or a short walk to release the blockage.
Sometimes I need to reset my system completely.
Sometimes I need to get inspiration, so I go and listen to similar music over and over.
In the worst case, I work on something else, and usually, by the next morning, I have a melody to play.
I create a few versions and present them to the team to listen to it and have their input. We always have rounds of iteration until the final music is ready.
Let’s hold on to that word. When do you feel that the music you’ve created is good and in its final format?
(Chuckles) Never. In game development, nothing is in final form and we are never fully satisfied with the product. We can make many improvements; at one point, we just decide we will release it. Music-making is exactly the same.
Do you like making music?
Yes, of course, I do. Mainly the creative part, not much the tedious background works. I also learn a lot about music every day, as I need to improve my skills. Music came back to my life recently, thanks to the Flatstone Grove project, and I had an almost ten-year gap when I wasn’t making music.
I’ve heard that you have many unique instruments, can you give me a few examples?
I have djembe, which is an African drum, an ukulele, a harmonica, a kazoo, a kalimba, a jaw harp, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, master keys, a Tilinkó (which is a Hungarian flute with a single hole).
I’ve also planted some bamboo in my garden with a plan to make a flute very soon.
At this point in the conversation, we lost trying the different instruments and had a long discussion about them.
This is only one aspect of Flatstone Grove, the project we are working on here at Sponge Hammer Games. I will write about development, art, story writing and communication in the following posts.
Stay tuned for more!
Flatstone Grove is an interactive storybook app for children between three and six years, running on Android and iOS devices. Our stories are designed to teach children core values such as bravery, love, and kindness. The app is free of in-app purchases and ads, and the content is suitable for small children.