A Tip of the Hat
By popular demand, the following post is penned by Ramps’ composer, Essa!
Despite having dipped my bill into music commissions for a handful of media projects, and having composed in my free time more than enough video game inspired music, Ramps is the first actual game I’ve had the pleasure to score. As we’ve said, this is a labor of love, and I’m not yet getting delusions of grandeur or walking around calling myself a “composer” or anything, but if my twelve year-old self could see me now, he’d flip his lid, and thoroughly look forward to the future.
It may (or may not) be of interest to know that 99% of the virtual instruments used thus far in the Ramps soundtrack have been freeware, and often open-source synthesizers. The music is composed on Cubase 4, and will be available to download once the necessary overhauls have been made to my own site (shouldn’t be long now; I’ll post a link when finished). I don’t know if there’s much interest out there at the moment for the score, but I’ve received enough positive feedback thus far that it seems like I may as well make it available.
One reviewer of the game commented that the soundtrack reminded him of the old Sonic the Hedgehog titles, a compliment of the highest order as far as I’m concerned. Unbeknownst to him, I’d wager, is the integration of the VOPM synthesizer in all the songs: a virtual instrument which emulates nearly perfectly the sound chip found in the Sega Genesis and Master System. While the synth doesn’t take the spotlight in most cases here, it’s at almost all times providing some form of backing, which I’d like to think has given the game a slight flavor of Seganess throughout it. Tyler’s bright world and character design really helps bring that flavor out as well, and my partnership with Backabit came into being over fond memories of the Genesis era games.
For those interested, the VOPM is a freeware instrument, and easily obtained if Googled. My pastime of choice is attempting to recreate the signature sound of the old Sonic tunes in original compositions using this instrument exclusively, a hobby as frustrating as it is gratifying.
It has been, however, a joy to be able to take such influences and stir them into the Ramps music. Which, presently, is exactly what I ought to be doing instead of sitting here talking shop. Back to work!