I occasionally thumb through my old notebooks, and thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the sketches I took while formulating ideas for FEZ, back in 2011.
For the Industrial part of the FEZ world (‘Progress’ on the soundtrack), I was looking into the usage of one tonality per time of day, per level. Some of this idea came through in the final version, where the music does change tonalities in certain levels. However, changing tonalities for each time of day proved to be too difficult to do effectively, because our tech limited us mostly to crossfades. The system did have a clock in place for triggering stems after x number of bars, but it proved to be a little bit shaky in practice. If you listen carefully, you may be able to hear this imperfection on display in the game’s opening village music.
Here you can also see a visual map of the level connections for the industrial area, and some of the internal names for those levels. Also, lots of experimenting with specific chords as the basis for tonality per level, and thinking about time of day by way of little sun/moon icons.
This is a fairly close representation of how the structure of the music used in the cave/mine levels (‘Formations’ on the soundtrack), turned out. Each box is a level, and arrows show the traversal between them. The rows depict the various states of gameplay in those levels, which just happened to be fairly parallel to the height of these obstacles/checkpoints. The little bomb image signifies the section where you must plant a bomb and rotate the world continuously to keep the fuse lit.
Often times I would just get something, anything, into the game, and then play with it in there to get a sense for how the music was feeling. This was a very effective method and has always been my go to way to iterate on music, especially dynamic music.
Full Day / Levels
For the Industrial area, I started to think about how long each time of day roughly was in game time, and how large the levels were relative to each other, in hopes it would help me figure out how I wanted to structure the music changes. Also the phrase ‘volume triggered’ here actually refers to altitude. I was probably experimenting with the idea of altitude to trigger different musical layers in these levels.
The note to the far right seems like it was the basis of an idea to create really sparse music for the interiors of the initial village. This idea was likely inspired by the music treatment in Jasper’s Journeys by Lexaloffle, which I found to be very unique in its approach. I either thought better of this idea or forgot about it, because the final version of the interior music is the exterior music with the low pass filter that Renaud implemented for when Gomez is out of view.