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Interview with Award-Winning Musician Frank Klepacki

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Veteran Command & Conquer composer, who really needs no introduction to long time Command & Conquer fans, Frank Klepacki, recently did an interview with Matthews Marketing. In this interview Frank discusses the business and creative approach of being a composer, especially in this new "digital age". Here's part of the interview.


Matthews Marketing: Over the course of your career, you’ve had to write a variety of styles to fit the specific requirements of the video game titles you were composing for, ranging from what you’ve called “Rocktronic” in Command & Conquer to material in Star Wars: Empire at War that complemented John Williams’ classic sound. How difficult is it to write music in a style that you’ve never attempted before, and what is that writing process like?


Frank Klepacki: You always have to be open to learning something. If a certain style for a soundtrack was called for which I hadn’t done much of then I study it relentlessly in order to capture the essence of it as authentically as I can. You’ll find that personal taste in these genres is what will gravitate what you do toward your own style of composing, and that’s when you know you are on the right track. However, if you’re asked to emulate something literally, then you’ll have to focus on that specific approach. For C&C I got to experiment with whatever I felt like, and weed out what worked and what didn’t. With Star Wars, I obviously had to do my best John Williams impression, the key being to make the experience seamless from his material to my own so that the player wouldn’t notice the difference.


Matthews Marketing: Music can play a very effective role in branding. When someone hears “Hell March,” they automatically think of Command & Conquer. When you’re creating music for a video game, is there an awareness that you’re contributing towards building a brand, and if so, how does that affect the writing process (if it does at all)?


Frank Klepacki: The writing process is dictated by the direction and mood discussed in the beginning before you even start on it. Also implementation is taken into consideration because how the music is triggered will also play a part in how you approach it. With a theme like Hell March, I just wrote what I felt that particular day, and it was selected as the theme for Red Alert after the fact. Sometimes you can just compose a cool idea you have, and let the team decide where it fits into the game.


You can read the full interview right here.

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