James Hannigan and Dead Space 3 on Top Score
August 29, 2013
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.