James Hannigan and Dead Space 3 on Top Score

by Emily Reese, Minnesota Public Radio
August 29, 2013
LISTEN

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Composer James Hannigan wrote music for Dead Space 3; an ominous score for a terrifying game.

"I actually feel that the less you say with music the scarier it can be. I think that the less you state the more you leave the player to imagine," Hannigan says.

"I'm a huge sci-fi fan, and I wouldn't say a horror fan exactly, but where horror meets sci-fi. You know Dead Space just gave me a great opportunity to get further into that kind of material.

"I like bleak music, you know — well, I wouldn't say entirely bleak — I like music that has a sort of hopelessness. I like to feel that you can gradually introduce hope — so you're going from a very dark place to somewhere a little lighter in the course of a piece of music."

Hannigan captures that bleak sound well in the first piece on the album. It's called 200 Years Ago on an Icy Planet.

"With that piece in particular, I was trying to capture a sense of being up against the odds and the elements, but still trying to suggest that Isaac — the protagonist — was going to essentially win through and save the day. So there's an element of heroism there, but it's sort of darkly heroic music, and that really suits me. I don't know why — I'm not a heroic kind of person at all.

"That track was the first track that I composed for the game so everything sort of flowed from there, the sound world, and the style of composition essentially flowed from that track."

Hannigan loves the sound of a full symphony orchestra, but Dead Space 3 sometimes goes beyond that.

"It is one of those sort of hybrid scores though, where you're never quite certain what you're hearing, you know, how it was generated, there was a lot of synth work in there."

In September, Hannigan is leading a group of composers in a series of events designed for fans and aspiring writers of video game music, called Game Music Connect.

Hear James Hannigan and his music for Dead Space 3 on the new episode of Top Score from Classical MPR, also on iTunes.

On Now

Pipedreams®
Michael Barone
Listen to the Stream
Playlist
Other MPR Radio Streams
Choral Stream
MPR News
Radio Heartland

You can now listen to Classical and Choral Music on your iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad) or Android device.

Classical Notes Blog

Read more