Contact Info / Websites
Do you have an iOS or Android device? Look for Plague Inc - a fun strategy game that I did the audio for. Hit the #1 paid app ranking in a ton of countries and stayed there for a good while. Check it out!
GamerScore Tracker for Xbox. I wrote the menu music. 80MS pts. Available now - go get it!
Professional $tealer now available for Xbox. Go get it!
2011-04-19 16:40:24 by jkap1
My first Xbox Live indie game has just been published. I did the sound effects and the scriptwriting (oddly enough). If you get the top score on story mode before April 25th, you win a Kinect! Other prizes include XBL Gold Cards and big bags of MS Puntos (I think 1600 pts but not sure).
RAC 5 is over, and thanks to some weird set of obscure scoring regulations, I managed to gather the most points and bring home the gold. A winner is me!
Here's my song (it was the Ghana entry):
I'm looking forward to more contests. Thanks NeonProject & everyone else involved.
RAC 5 CONTEST ENTRY SUMMARY
Song Title: Anansi Stories
I've always 'kind of liked' African music, but never really spent a lot of time intentionally listening to it. So I'm glad that this contest finally gave me the incentive to go out and educate myself. I chose Ghana, not knowing what I was getting into, and started doing some random searches on their music and culture after signing up.
As a stereotypical, uninformed, self-centered American, I expected to find a few links to some cheesy pop-style African tunes, or maybe some "native" drumming and chanting recorded on a field mic. But I ended up being completely overwhelmed (and humbled) by the huge amount of diverse music that came back to me. So many different styles originated in Ghana that it was hard to figure out where to begin.
The main ethnic group in Ghana is called the Ashanti. And the Ashanti storytelling tradition is interwoven with their call and response musical tradition. (Here's one example of traditional song & dance. You can find a bunch more linked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hxv6lNn 8GHA&feature=related ). The central figure of their mythology is Anansi - the clever trickster spider. (Think of the fox from Aesop's fables. You can go here to read a few examples: http://anansistories.com/ ). My contest entry was inspired by the stories I read there, particularly the story of how Anansi came to be the "keeper of all stories" in the first place.
So my first idea was to try to emulate the traditional Ashanti sound, but then I realized that I don't sing (and when I do I definitely don't sound African). I also don't have any African instruments lying around, and I didn't want to spend night after night searching for weak shareware VSTs so that I could lamely attempt to create a fake crowd of Axatse, Sogo, and Kpalogo drummers anyway. So I kept looking for more ideas.
Then I came across a ton of really incredible forward-thinking hybrid music being made by Ghanain ex-pats in Europe (particularly Germany) called "Burger-Highlife." This is some awesome stuff that everyone should check out, and I spent a good month listening to as much as I could find. (Check this youtube playlist for a few good examples: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?
p=8E4924E49D882AD0 ). But eventually I decided that I needed to be true to the spirit of the RAC contest... and that trying to impersonate a European impersonation of Ghanaian music wasn't what it was about.
So I ended up going back and listening to a lot of Ghanaian funk from the 60s, 70s and 80s, and then to a lot of Highlife music from the 90s and beyond. What I settled on was to try to make an instrumental highlife song inspired by the older stuff, but that I'd also let myself be free to use a few more-modern sounds & techniques. (Check this video for some highlife song examples: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aD4FXrw 8VRA&feature=related ).
Most of their popular music uses the same instrumentation as standard Western funk (drums, bass, guitar, keys). And though a lot of it is heavy with vocals and horns, I found many examples of groups who instead use three or more keyboardists/organists to create a full, lush sound - with each member playing an odd (to my untrained ears) syncopated rhythm - all over a steady kick drum and percussion pattern. The disjointed parts ultimately combine to make a deep, solid groove, and I did my best to build a song using those ingredients with a bit of additional percussion & mallets in the mix. I also allowed myself a synth lead in the middle because I really liked the way it mixed with the other sounds, and because I'd heard plenty of modern highlife that featured synth leads. So though it's not 100% authentic to any one particular style or time period, it's a nice combination of all the different Ghanaian musical elements that I came across while doing my research.
In the end, I had a great time composing this piece. It's not a sweeping, majestic orchestral score, and it's not an electro-dubstep fusion braincrusher. It is what it is: a happy little highlife-inspired tune meant to sound like those other happy little highlife tunes that I've been listening to. And I have to say it was nice to be free to use the regular ol' major scale and to write a cheerful-sounding song. I often find myself trying too hard to write 'innovative' or 'ground-breaking' stuff, instead of just trying to write something happy and 'obvious' that a regular, non-music-nerd might enjoy. But in this case, that's what the assignment seemed to call for. And I was glad to find that the Ghanaians - who as a people have suffered through REAL tragedies - make some of the happiest, least-edgy-sounding music that I've ever heard. I really enjoyed trying to emulate their sound.
Thanks to NeonProject & everyone else involved, and best of luck to the other contestants!
* DAW Screenshot:
Happy to be here at NG, and excited to enter my first contest - which is apparently "one of the biggest events for the Newgrounds audio community" (at least that's what the promo I saw said).
The RAC (Represent a Country) contest is entering its fifth year, and I've signed up to represent Ghana.
I don't claim to know a lot about Ghanaian music, but I do know that I like it whenever I hear it. So I'm looking up as many highlife and afrobeat videos as I can, and I'm also trying to be a good contest participant by educating myself on the history of the region (GhanaHistoryPage).
This should be a good chance for me to expand beyond my comfort zone - which is something I promised myself I'd do when I joined. GL to everyone.