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Spartan Fist is OUT!

What is Spartan Fist?

As the game’s page says: “Fight your way to fame, fortune and glory in this first-person puncher as you work to retrieve the fabled Spartan Fist. Playing as Emma Jones, a down-and-out detective working to earn her keep, you’ll tap your inner badass as you punch dudes so hard they explode. Navigate through an arena that’s different each time you play and delve into a whimsically gritty and colorfully punk pixilated world while fighting your way to the top.”

Steam link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/632170/Spartan_Fist/

You can stream and purchase the soundtrack here:

Spartan Fist is probably one of the most aggressive games I’ve ever scored! It’s a first person puncher for crying out loud! 😛 When Megan Fox, the owner and creative force behind Glass Bottom Games, approached me about Emma Jones and her next adventure, I was definitely intrigued. Like with Hot Tin Roof, where we fused chiptune and noir style jazz together, we knew that we wanted to fuse chiptune music with something. But what? What style would best fit the gritty world of punching dudes so hard they explode?!

The answer, of course, was punk.

Admittedly, punk music wasn’t a style I was super versed in. I’d heard of the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. I’d played Rockband during college. I’d even heard some more modern punk-ish style bands but punk music wasn’t easily in my wheel house. Enter an old friend of mine, Ben Cockerham! Besides being one of NYC’s most dapper dressers and a great guitarist well versed in funk, jazz and many other styles – Ben knew how to make punk sounds. This album wouldn’t have been possible without his help! Thank you Ben! Check out some of his great work here: http://bencockerham.com/music/

The voice of Emma Jones this time is played by Fryda Wolff. She’s been in a lot of cool things that you’ve probably heard of – Trolls The Beat Goes On, Mass Effect: Andromeda and Guardians of the Galaxy: The Tall Tales Series to name just a few. Go check out all of her work here: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1488849/

Finally Megan Fox has been a pure JOY to work with. It’s rare to find a client that will push you into areas you don’t initially feel comfortable. Or ready for. But she’s just that type of client. The way we work together is pure collaboration and it’s a ton of fun! Check out the game and more of Megan’s work here: http://spartanfist.com/

A quick note about this soundtrack

In the song listing you’ll see “No melody” versions along side “Arena versions” and “Boss fight” versions of songs. Most people know what Boss fight means but “No melody” and “Arena” are a bit more vague. The “No melody” versions appear in the game when you’re going in between arenas. So much of the soundtrack is completely in your face, front and center that we wanted to give the player a little bit of a reprieve (but not too much!) before they re-enter the fray. The “Arena versions” of the tracks are what you’d hear while fighting in the… well… arena. Simple right? For the “Boss fights” we wanted to increase the already high energy to a new level because you’re fighting a boss. This is a big deal. Those bosses are pretty tough… and big.

This soundtrack is completely different from almost anything else I’ve ever done. And I think it fits the world of Spartan Fist very well. I hope you enjoy it. And watch out for the left hook. It can sneak up on ya.

Want to work with me on a project? Reach out! I’d love to partner up with you!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Austin, TX. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow.

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The View Upon the Horizon

The View Upon the Horizon is a piece that I wrote just for fun! I was playing around with some chord progressions last Sunday and then stumbled upon this melody. The entire piece was written in about 45 minutes and then I hired a great cellist (https://www.fiverr.com/caroteruel) to record the part for me. She nailed it! This is actually an alternate version where the piano part is also a bit more simplified than the first arrangement; which I feel helps the melody breathe a bit more. The piece reminds me of someone looking over a land that they’re about to leave. The future is somewhat uncertain but their honor and duty propels them forward on their quest.

I hope you enjoy it! And, as always, please get in touch with me should you need custom audio for your next project! I always love working with folks!

You can hear the original version here: https://youtu.be/tdcNMfXIvAA

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Savage Planet

I was very pleased to help out with a new Kickstarter for a new boardgame called Savage Planet: Fate of Fantos. This is my second time to work with Imp House Games. The first time was helping out with the music, sound design and mix for their other Kickstarter for Chaos of Cthulhu. This team has consistently impressed me with their creative and fun boardgames!

The Kickstarter is doing very well – already up to over $8K on the second day! Well to their goal of $12,500!

For this video, I produced the music, sound design and mixed in the narration up to the 1:28 mark. Go check out Savage Planet: The Fate of Fantos and please consider backing this awesome board game!

If you’d like to learn more about me and my services, why not reach out?

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Spartan Fist

Megan and the crew over at Glassbottom Games have been busy making Spartan Fist, a first person brawler that is super fun! You punch dudes so hard, their heads explode. All in super cute pixel art style! For more info on the game, go check out http://spartanfist.com/.

Time to get punchin'

Here’s the awesome trailer with music by yours truly:

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Using Tempo for Added Realism

Using Tempo to Add More Realism

One of the best ways composers can add more realism to their pieces is with tempo changes. This is especially true when writing for orchestra, big band, jazz combos and even certain rock songs. In this video tutorial I discuss how and why I use tempo changes to help make a piece feel more organic. I also detail how tempo changes may differ from a solo performance versus a large ensemble. The example piece featured in this video is War Upon The Sea which you can hear in it’s entirety here: https://youtu.be/BGMoxGkBHYU.

Of course this approach won’t apply to every style of music or every song. Experiment and see how these kinds of edits can help strengthen your song. Go make your tracks more organic and leave more space for your listener’s emotions! Put in some tempo changes where they make musical sense. It can make such a difference – even small changes! I hope that you find the quick tutorial helpful and please feel free to leave comments and feedback. I enjoy reading them!

Should you need custom audio for your next project, let’s chat!

Thanks!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Cedar Falls, IA. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow.

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The Big Move to Cedar Falls, IA!

Back in Sept of this year, my family and I moved from Austin, TX up to Cedar Falls, IA so I could begin working for Scientific Games Interactive. For those not in the know, SGI (https://www.sginteractive.com/) is one of the largest and most successful virtual casino gaming companies in the world! Currently over 9,000 employees! I was honored to accept the position of Senior Composer/Sound Designer at this prestigious company. Making a big move across the country is always interesting and while we certainly miss our friends and family in Texas (as well as all of the BBQ and Tex-Mex) we’re loving life here in Cedar Falls! Nothing I’ve worked on has been released publicly yet but I’m eager to share some of the work I’ve been doing with SGI once it’s made live!

BTW, I’m still freelancing, so hit me up if you have a project that needs audio. Also stay tuned for some announcements of some of the side projects I’ve been working on lately! Happy holidays and Merry Christmas.

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A Tense Moment – 48 hour film project

48 hours to make a film?!

During the summer, I took part in the 48 Hour Film Project, hosted in Austin, TX. It was a blast! For those not familiar with the festival/contest, teams are given 48 hours to create, write, film, edit and produce a short film in 48 hours. To keep things interesting, all submissions had to work in:

– a character’s name
– a prop
– a certain line of dialog

Teams also had to genres randomly assigned to them and could pick which one they wanted to use. It’s a very fun, challenging and fast pace contest! Our film, Until Death Do Us Part, was nominated for eight awards and won four of them! Here’s my favorite music cue from this project:

The whole film should be released to the public soon. Stay tuned! And if you haven’t taken part in a 48 hour film project yet, do it! It’s so much fun.

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Of Love and Sorrow – Main Theme

Here’s the main theme to Of Love and Sorrow, a new game being developed and published by Niels Bauer Games. Madsen Studios LLC – an Austin, TX based audio company, was hired to compose the music for the trailer and the game itself. It was really fun to write the music for a civil war, text game. For this theme I wanted to capture the grand, epic conflict while also showing some of the more tender moments of the game. In a way, this piece harkens back to Civil War epic soap operas that I saw on TV as a child in the 80’s. Check out the music and the game, once it’s made live!

Please reach out if you need original music or sound design for your next project. I’d love to help out!

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It’s time for a divorce….

It’s not you, it’s me.

It’s time for a divorce… from your work. If you’re a freelancing or hired audio professional, that is. Too many times I’ve seen audio professionals, as well as folks in other disciplines, grow too attached to their work. This is a dangerous thing because it causes you to lose perspective and potentially over react when criticism/feedback is delivered. This can harm the collaborative effort which is vital to projects like films, video games and other multimedia. When we compose music or produce audio for a project, it’s NOT own our audio anymore. It belongs to the project.

It’s not about our personal feelings, tastes or bias.

It’s not about our own egos.

It’s not about our own preferred work flows.

It’s only about what content/methods would best serve the product.

I picked the title carefully because divorce is, from what I’ve been told, a very hard and personal thing to go through. Likewise, having your work criticized can be very painful and difficult. It can feel personal, even when it’s not meant to be. Divorce is also the act of detaching two things that were once very close to each other. When I’m doing work for a client or for an employer, I remind myself that I’m “divorced” from the audio. I put myself in a very different mindset than when I’m working on my own projects as a hobby. This enables me to better receive feedback from management and peers as well as objectivity look at my work and see how it’s lining up with the product’s designs and goals.

It takes practice.

This is a skill that can take some time to develop. My advice is to keep a cache of personal projects on the side where you can do whatever you wish, in whatever manner you wish to help satisfy that personal creativity. This way you can keep a part of “you” in your work and not feel like a drone and also be better prepped to fall in line with what your given roles are on a work-for-hire project or employer. Please notice what I’m not saying: I’m not telling you to sell yourself 100%. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be invested in work or be passionate about it. I’m not saying to give up your personal ideals or methods. That’s not healthy and odds are not why people hired you to make audio for them. They want YOU involved! But sometimes you do have to adapt and change your approach to better serve the project. If you’ve never been through honest feedback on your work, then I’d suggest putting your work online and letting folks from the professional audio realm review it. Many folks, myself included, will listen and gladly give our input. This works great because it’s not your friends or family listening and saying “sounds great!” even if it doesn’t. This is good, honest feedback from folks that should have the ears and skillsets to be able to distinguish what’s going great in your work and what could use some improvement.

Growing a thick skin.

My first real exposure to blunt, concise feedback was at FUNimation Entertainment, where I worked as a composer/sound designer in the Special Features/DVD dept. I would create the music and sound design, as well as edit and produce dialog from the show into a trailer for anime shows and films. We’re talking top tier anime work like Dragon Ball Z, Yu Gi Oh and such. Once the audio was done, I’d have a quick review with the brand manager, head of the video editors and sometimes even a VP of the company. Feedback was sometimes as brief as a few words:

“Love it!” “Doesn’t work.” “Hate it.” “Redo it.”

Then the folks would go back to their jobs and I’d be left making any needed fixes. That kind of environment forced me to grow a thick skin quickly. And you need a thick skin to be successful in this industry. It was at this job that I started the notion that any critiques were not personal in nature and were not directed at ME. They were directed at my work and how well it lined up with the product. This helped me better process and apply the feedback. In turn, this made me much better at my job.

Take a moment.

And the next time you feel yourself getting heated or protective of your work due to some criticisms, take a deep breath. This is creative work and therefore passions can play a large factor. Take a moment before responding and remind yourself – this is no longer YOUR audio. You’ve divorced yourself from it and instead, it’s the PROJECT’S audio. Do what’s best for the project. Hopefully everyone else on the team will be like minded and focused exclusively on what’s best for the project as well. Not always the case but one can hope!

Best of luck!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Austin, TX. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow.

materia-album-cover

Materia: Final Fantasy VII Remixed

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this page! So here goes! I was extremely honored and humbled to be a part of Materia: Final Fantasy VII Remixed. This incredible album which features a staggaring 5+ hours of music by artists/composers/producers/musicians from all over the world! You can hear the track I arranged/produced below. Track credits:

iTunes: https://goo.gl/CioQUj
Loudr: https://goo.gl/xz6zY1
Spotify: https://goo.gl/WPXYSf
Official website: materiacollective.com/music/materia_…sy_vii_remixed

The approach was to combine Eric Satie’s Trois Gymnopedies No. 1 with You Can Hear the Cries of the Planet (a long time fav of my from the game).

Nathan Madsen – vocals, arrangement, production
Lauren Liebowitz – vocals
David Neale – guitar
Joanne Moo – harp
Doug Perry – vibes

I hope you enjoy it!