Fortuna! is an original composition and the title song for the (imaginary) game, Return to Treasure Island. Return to Treasure Island is an RPG and economic sim where an adult Jim Hawkins, now the captain of his own ship, sails the Caribbean in search of fortune and glory. Pirates and treasure abound – it will be a journey to remember!
This was a really fun twist on the game jam concept (composing music for an imaginary game based on a provided theme, which in this case was, ‘a journey to remember’). As someone who loves both game development and musical composition, this was a LOT of fun!
– The musical foundation of the track is very simple, using just five primary chords (Am, G, F, Em, and Emaj). There are a few melodies/phrases that get repeated through the song. Most of the instruments are just adding support in various places (a little more ‘ooomph’ here, and a little more ‘drama’ there).
– The digital audio workstation (DAW) I used for this composition was PreSonus Studio One. Because all of the performances were relatively simple I was able to use a KORG nanoKEY Studio as my MIDI controller for all of the instruments and all of the percussion (the nanoKEY also has eight very nice, responsive pads).
– I wanted a strong ending with a vocal(s) part. One of my sound libraries has opera phrases, and I found one I liked where the singer sings the word, “Fortuna.” This inspired the title of the track.
– There were no loops or clips used in this track (not that there is anything wrong with that). Everything was written from scratch (except for the ‘fortuna’ bit above).
– Composing a score at least three minutes long – and keeping it musically interesting – was quite the challenge. I haven’t written many orchestral pieces, and none in excess of three minutes. I tried to keep the track moving forward through variety in percussion and also using slight differences during repeated passages (my English horn might play a C here when last time it played an F, etc.).
– Tips and tricks – When I record a part with a MIDI controller, I always fully-quantitize the performance so that it is perfectly in time. Then I will go track by track and ‘humanize’ the performance by randomizing (slightly) note placement, length, and velocity. I will use this much more sparingly on parts that are key in keeping the track’s time (e.g., bass and percussion parts).