Interviews// Tommy Tallarico

Posted 23 Oct 2007 18:46 by
SPOnG: Events such as Video Games Live and composers such as Richard Jacques (composer on Mass Effect among others) have in recent years brought the art of video game music composition onto a similar level to Hollywood soundtracks. What is your opinion of the idea that the videogame and movie industries are becoming closer together?

Tommy Tallarico: I think weíre always going to be different from film and television just because of how the medium is presented. Television is a very linear medium for example; you may only get a few seconds where your piece is used in the background. The reality is that film and television are by nature stories, and that story is told through dialogue Ė because of that music is very much considered as background material to push the dialogue forward. With video games, the action drives the story, concept or main goal, so we get to create music that 80-90% of the time is the big action sequence.

Even great composers like John Williams are restricted in how he creates music, because he still has to sit down with George Lucas who tells him what music to create at which time frame. Because of the linear nature of the medium, the direction will very much be. ďAt 3:51 the music changes to dark and moody as Darth Vader just walked into the room, and at 4:00 the music does this because the Death Star blows upĒ.

In game development, a designer will come to me and say, ďHereís the deal. There are a hundred guys on horseback with swords coming at you, and theyíve all come to kick your ass. Write me a three minute piece of musicĒ. From there my mind can go wild, as I donít have the restrictions of a film or TV composer, and even then the interactivity can send me in different directions. For example, Iíll have this theme for 100 guys kicking my ass, but I may have to do a different theme for 10 guys kicking my ass, and another if no one was kicking my ass anymore.

But I do love the fact that film and TV composers are coming into the games industry Ė itís good for our wallets as they have a certain method in place in terms of contracts, agreements and ownership. I think itís important for the games industry to start to look at and adapt those same sorts of budgets and contracts that other industries have had for 30-odd years.

Itís also great that some awesome talent from TV and film are lending their hand to creating video game music too. Some of the best artists from around the world are coming together and I think itís only good for the video game industry.

Itís this kind of diverse appeal and approach that we have that I feel that if Beethoven were alive today, heíd be a video game composer.


SPOnG: We would love to hear Anything But Tangerines from Earthworm Jim, although that might require guitars and turn the event into a rock concert?

Tommy Tallarico: We get a lot of requests for Earthworm Jim, and weíve got something planned that we are hoping to have ready for our LA and London concerts. But we donít really know what itís going to be yet because the thing about Earthworm Jim is that it includes so many different musical styles; some of itís comedy, some is industrial, some is rockÖ I guess I would ask you. What would you expect as a fan of the series? Many people like the Banjo tune, perhaps I should come out and play a banjo on the stage. Would you want to hear more of the melodic or electronic stuff?


SPOnG: As well as Anything But Tangerines, the second level of Earthworm Jim 2, Lorenzo Soil is pretty cool too. Or incorporating something along the lines of the Salamander Quiz!

Tommy Tallarico: (Laughs) OK! Iíll see what I can do, but just to answer the question there will be something on Earthworm Jim in the show!
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