In Depth: Disasters for Piano

'Disasters for Piano', by David Peacock. Artwork by Nicolas Menard.

'Disasters for Piano' is a collection of my works arranged (for piano) by David Peacock.
Links: Album, Sheet Music Book, Free PDF

One day, I saw an Instagram video of someone performing a short snippet of 'Forgotten' from FEZ on piano.

I was really taken by David's style, watched all of his clips and reached out to complement him and see if he might want to work on a piano arrangement. What followed was a long and fruitful collaboration - an open invitation for David to explore my catalogue and tackle what he liked, and a whole lot of back and forth as we refined and honed in on an eclectic set of piano arrangements.

Track Descriptions


Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
This piece was heavily inspired by the music from the game Super Mario RPG. I set out to create a closing track for my album Level, and knew I wanted something that was optimistic, and kind of frenetic in its energy.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
With Win, it was important to capture the gradual build. Also wanted to focus on mixing groups of 2 over groups of 3 in different ways, much like the original did. A couple of times, I would select a piece to arrange based on the original—with no consideration for how it might translate to piano, and because of that this piece may have taken the longest to complete!

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
Because computer generated music is metronomically precise, I wanted to humanize it by breathing more "life" into the piece; taking subtle liberties with time, while always respecting the constant underlying rhythmic pulse.

Spaceman the Vulnerable

Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
This level music from the game Cat Astro Phi tries to evoke the innocence of its protagonist, who frequently succumbs to kitten mischief, and the increasing danger of his pursuits, exploring derelict space bunkers.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
Spaceman was the first piece I arranged for this project, and I think that helped in conveying Spaceman’s vulnerability. I also played through Cat Astro Phi before I got started. :3

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
I wanted to set the tone of the piece by creating long phrases, while at the same time embracing the silence between. It helped to elicit not only the vastness of space, but also the dark loneliness it can bring.

Somewhere, our limbs lost in the distance.

Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
The original score for the film Somewhere used the twinkle effects from the animation to come up with the rhythm of its thematic melody. Working on music and sound simultaneously has a certain cathartic, all-devouring effect on me - there are some nifty integrations of the two - one example is the bedroom clock creating a 5/8 polyrhythm against the music. Musically speaking this has kind of a small, indie vibe to it a la The Postal Service that grows more impressionistic and grandiose as the story unfolds.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
This film left a lasting impression on me, and the score is such a prominent part of that. I wanted to cover the entire score chronological to the plot. The approach we took was to preserve much of the original while adding more pianistic tendencies where it felt right.

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
One of my favorite pieces written by Rich, and David did a wonderful job with this arrangement. You really get a sense of the story arch from the original film and score. Special attention should be given in the opening 5/8 to not add accents as if playing in compound (3/8+2/8) meter.


Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
This was going to be the theme for Groggnar, a big lovable monster from the game Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake, but I found it worked pretty well for that game’s protagonist and his whole core group of monster friends. The backbeat chords kinda gave the original a quirky quasi-reggae vibe.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
This arrangement is what I’d imagine a mixture of Art Tatum, Bill Evans, and a bit of Duke Ellington might have done with it. This was one of the games I enjoyed completing while experiencing the music as “research”.

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
As a classically trained pianist, this piece was a lot of fun to play because I rarely get a chance to channel some of history's greatest jazz pianists. It’s important to have a rhythmically solid LH so that the RH can have a natural loose/free melody.

Scent of Betrayal

Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
This song from Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake originally came out of a jam with my friend Neuman back in the fall of 2011. We briefly formed a band for the sole purpose of playing one show. We practiced for a few weeks, played the show, and then permanently disbanded. It was fun!

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
Continuing with the jazz-influence, this one has a more somber and lethargic feeling to it’s original. Lots of jazz harmony used here.

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
The lilting jazz-like feeling throughout the piece made it pleasurable to record. Remember to tune your ear to always be aware of all the inner voices. Thinking like a small chamber ensemble (ie. string quartet) helps.


Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
You encounter a mysterious force and the journey begins. This piece was initially an attempt to update The Solar Prime Elite (see my album, Deorbit) for inclusion on the album Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar. It proved difficult but ultimately worked out as the prologue for the album, albeit in an abridged format.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
Translating this one was a challenge. Finding a way to interpret arpeggiated synth chords into something one person can play on piano was a great exercise in creatively approaching the material.

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
Performing this piece reminded me very much of Impressionistic composers like Debussy or Ravel, especially when playing the "water-like" arpeggiated figures. Well articulated fingers coupled with a refined use of pedal help to create these glossy sounds.


Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
I originally came up with this melody on my Aunt's upright piano during a Christmas break. Then I recreated it with basic chord accompaniment using the keys on my laptop, while on a bus, headed from Boston to Hartford. I definitely tried to tap into the 80s horror mystique a little with the arrangement. Subsequently, this piece was used in the temp score for It Follows and ultimately became a big inspiration for that score.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
Death was approached from a modern take on the romantic era. We chose to have the piece start minimally and gradually build to a romantic and drama-filled climactic moment.

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
I found it important to remember that there can be drama, even when it's pianissimo; it only makes the climax at the end that much more exciting.

The Outlaw

Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
Part of a split electronic EP called West, this piece started with a Spaghetti-Western inspired guitar lick, which became the central motif of the song. Hearing it translated to piano was a bit odd at first, but I think it projects a fresh perspective on a similar idea.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
Instead of a guitarist loosely playing through this theme, we have a pianist. The arpeggiated harp-like runs came about when I was enjoying the chord progression, and became a recurring motif in the arrangement.

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
The opening was quite a challenge because it was originally written for an improvised guitar. It was not about trying to recreate the sound of the original instrumentation, but to make it sound like it was meant to be written for solo piano.


Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
The Title track from It Follows, this was directly inspired by Death from FEZ, and Ennio Morricone. Morricone scored many Westerns and Horror films - what if he scored a Horror Western ?

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
This piece was an exciting addition that existed only after I’d see the film It Follows. It was exciting to be arranging a piece that was relatively new to everyone at the time.

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
Knowing this is from a thriller, I couldn't take a straightforward approach to interpreting this piece. The challenge was to create multiple "false climaxes" and immediately release the tension to give the listener relief — just like watching any scary movie.


Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
This song was written to match the 90-second gameplay loop of the mobile game ZONR, has an accelerating tempo and lots of harmonic twists and turns to make it feel adventurous and increasingly frenetic. Fun Fact: ZONR’s developer went on to help develop Crossy Road.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
This one is short and simple, and ends up being ninety seconds long like the original. I had this one sort of mirror the original by gradually slowing down and getting softer instead of speeding up and getting more stressful.

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
This was a fun one to record because the performance had to last 90 seconds. It almost felt like playing the game during the recording session. I wish I had a secret to how we achieved this. My only suggestions is try it out a couple times with a stop watch and learn where you need to either speed up or take time. Most of all, have fun with it!


Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
In the game FEZ, the musical elements from this track take on a different form depending on where you are and what time of day it is. The original soundtrack version is edited down to incorporate portions of each - a lower register for the day, and a higher register for the night. Certain scale notes are altered slightly to give each time of a day a subtly different vibe.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
This arrangement goes between sparse sections and brief moments of motion. I wanted some sections to really mimic the original with the long pads; allowing the piano strings to reverberate a bit. There is a shorter 15-second version of this floating around social media from before this project existed.

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
Much like the other pieces from FEZ, this is about creating space and tones that sound organic and otherworldly. When playing slowly, the challenge of a pianist is that we are limited to the length of which a note/chord can be sustained. Always listen and think about where a chord is coming from or going to and match the tone accordingly.

The Thief

Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
I wanted to take the typical Thief archetype from games and change it a little, by portraying the character as more of a romantic, who longs for a loved one and has a greater purpose beyond the dungeon walls of the game FAMAZE.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
This arrangement proved to be a challenge to retain the romantic sadness The Thief carries, and needed multiple revisions to uncover the right feeling. I think we landed on it, in the end, it just took a while to get there.

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
You really get the sense of loneliness and sadness in this piece. I wanted to respect that, while not coming across as overly sentimental. It’s helpful to think of this piece in longer phrases so it can maintain its “flow” throughout.


Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
This song was written using a single synth sound, so it proved to be a nice piece for translation to the piano. Because the game FEZ leans heavily on its night cycle, this piece features two distinct sections. During the day, critters scurry here and there, going about their business. But come nightfall, they come out to dance. The first section is a bunch of overdubbed improvisations, a tempo.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
The introduction to this arrangement was created by mimicking and improvising over the original improvised opening. I played around with using the fibonacci series to guide the length of sections. This arrangement formed in the shortest amount of time, with the fewest revisions, I think. I really enjoy Augustine’s performance of the ‘musical bug’ ornamental phrases at the end.

Augustine Gonzales, on the Performance
If I had to pick a favorite of the album, this would be it. The overall effect of this piece always leaves me calm and relaxed. Remember to keep your hands soft and let the melody “play itself”.

The Last General

Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
I originally wrote something else for the West region’s boss fight in Hyper Light Drifter, but it wasn't working. The creative director guided me a bit with this, showing me a boss fight from Dark Souls with a giant wolf that had a large, melancholy quality to it. I used that as inspiration to write something that attempted to evoke a 'fallen hero' quality.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
This arrangement came about because I was playing Hyper Light Drifter and could not get past the West boss. I nearly ruined my controller in frustration, so I decided pause the game and channel that energy into playing the boss' theme on piano. I did eventually beat him.


Rich Vreeland, on the Composition
I came up with a sequence of ideas at the piano and recorded them in a somewhat lo-fi manner, with a field recorder. The general structure and ideas were there, but the specifics were always a bit blurry, and that allowed me to tinker with the form and the details of the performance over the course of a 10 - 15-minute jam. Afterward, I edited this down into a more listenable form, a six-minute track and the closer for Hyper Light Drifter.

David Peacock, on the Arrangement
We worked back and forth to make this transcription the most accurate, without becoming too distracting or complicated. The choice to remove bar lines was to help facilitate the free-flowing performance style. Because of the expressive nature of the performance, I wrote this out by hand entirely before being engraved digitally.

In Depth: Gunhouse

Gunhouse was a very unique and fun project for me. I set out to create a soundtrack primarily using loops. I was inspired by a conversation I had with my friend and colleague James Primate about a talk Darren Korb gave about his work on the game Bastion. That soundtrack contains a lot of premade loops. There is sometimes a stigma associated with using loops ... I think sometimes its use is characterized as a form of laziness, but I thought it would be a really fun and interesting challenge to try to create a bunch of music that was almost entirely based around these sound files. I wanted to see how far I could get using premade assets as a primary source of inspiration. It turns out it's a great way to not only work quickly, but to flex creative muscle and do strange aesthetic things. There are many artists who have discovered the benefits of this way of working. My friend and colleague David Kanaga is working on a game currently that is made up entirely of prefab assets from the Unity store, and it is one of the most bizarre and entertaining games I've ever played.

From Nothing to Something

One of the real boons of this creative process for me was how quickly I could get interesting musical ideas going. I would listen to loop after loop, using the same sort of vetting process I would use to design synths or produce tracks made up of original samples.

Track Descriptions


This one had sort of a game show meets arcade vibe that seemed to work well as a title screen. Farfisa type organ ended up being one of the sounds I used repeatedly in the soundtrack. That and harmonica.

Children's Sport

This tune has some looping phrases of a Chinese stringed instrument (can't remember which one) that I autotuned to have less note changes. I used these as a framework for a lot of the compositional choices which was quite a fun exercise. I harmonized with the part using pulse waves, and created entirely new melodies using that melody. The three-part organish solo at the end of the loop is also in a way inspired by that original looping phrase.

These Skulls are Really Mad

This is probably my least favorite tune on the soundtrack. It's more of a pensive, puzzley vibe.

General Supplies

This tune was actually a reject submission from the game 'Beatbuddy'. I think I wrote this after coming back from a Disasterpeace tour in Mexico. I met Baiyon there, the electronic artist from Kyoto and I was inspired to try to write something more groove oriented. While it's not particularly loop focused (though there is some stuff from Stylus RMX), the light, funky vibe turned out to be a solid fit for this soundtrack. The bass sound is a NES-style pulse wave and a picked bass in unison.

Today's Commotion

Fun fact, this song has a loop from the Omnisphere library in it that you can also hear in one of the Bit.Trip Runner games ... I noticed it almost immediately when browsing through the library and thought it would be fun to add it anyway and try to make it sound different. This track also features a real fun harmonica solo.

I was inspired by the general vibe of 'Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp', by Peter McConnell, from the Psychonauts Soundtrack.

Took to Misdeeds

This song was originally called 'Wizard's Tower. I wrote it around the same time I wrote the music for 'Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar', but never quite found a home for it. Originally it had more of a prog-rock instrumentation, so I went back and made it a bit more electronic and weird.

Hale and Hearty

This was the first tune I explicitly wrote for Gunhouse. I really wanted to write something groovy and weird that would get you moving. This was before I settled into the more loop oriented approach, and was focusing more on production and vibe. Those elements definitely carried over.

Eat Your Vegetables, Punks!

This one really ventures out into different geographic territory. Cuíca (Brazil), Mbira & Axatse (West Africa), Didgeridoo (Australia), all come together to make a fun feel good jam.

My first exposure to cuíca was on the Paul Simon song 'Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard'.

Decent Spirits

I definitely had dreams of George Michael's 'Careless Whisper' and the 'Sexy Sax Guy' meme from YouTube, where a fella just shows up in random public places, riffing on the melody from aforementioned song. It was fun to experiment with saxophone, since I almost never do. I also experimented a lot with throwing delay effects on the whole track to get some pretty weird pulsing effects. One of the techniques I developed for this soundtrack, was harmonizing and mimicking the looping phrases with 8-bit sounds to flesh them out and give them a bit more of a gamey personality.

The Other Kind of Fork

Brandon, the lead developer for Gunhouse wanted me to make something with gamelan instruments. I happened to have some gamelan loops and the rest is history! I found combining real world instrument sounds from around the world with old electronic sounds created a fun vibe that suited the game well. This tune also has trombone runs, a string section, a crazy pentatonic distorted harmonica solo, speak and spell sounds, and some NES-style pulse waves.

In Depth: Hyper Light Drifter

Emotional Impact

Hyper Light Drifter was a very emotional project to work on, and I think part of that was because of the creative approach I took with the music. I ended up trying many things that didn’t work, and so I often had to start over in the middle of an idea. The game kept shifting over my three years of involvement, and I didn’t feel like I had a grasp of the game until the very end. It's odd - the very first thing I wrote for the project ended up being a seminal representation of the spirit of the score, and yet the general experience of writing the music proved to be quite a struggle.

Being on the same project for three years is difficult for someone like me, where I feel like my taste and my interests are always changing. The level of trial and error in finding the right sounds for this game was quite high, and required a lot of energy of me to stay engaged and working at my highest potential. I often felt like I was using my emotions to figure out what was working and what wasn’t, and that ended up being taxing over time. By the end, I was reaching back into the past to try and channel how I used to feel, because I think I’d already kind of moved on from it. But I couldn’t quit. I had to finish it.


There was definitely some cross-pollenation when it came to influence. We landed pieces like 'Titan' and 'The Abyss' pretty early in development, which I think helped the team's creative process. I was absolutely inspired by the visuals, as that was the first thing I saw and reacted to in writing some of the earliest pieces. I also got really into Miyazaki's Nausicaa manga during development. That definitely helped me down the stretch.

I stumbled into an impressionistic way of approaching the music for Hyper Light Drifter. I improvised at the piano often as I was trying to hone in on some very subtle feelings and vibes for different areas of the game. There was a lot of trial and error, naturally.

In the eastern water region, the music is placid and serene, but with a tense edge that comes through at different points. I had some semi-intuitive notions of how that type of region was supposed to sound, and I tried to lock into that. I used that process with every region of the game, more or less. I had to figure out the sound of a post-apocalyptic desert where it’s raining all the time. What does that sound like? What’s the sound of a crystal forest, or the sound of ascending a mountain?

Thematic Development

It became harder to make progress late in the development, so I amassed about 100 piano ideas that I felt could fit in the game. Alex, the creative director, and I went through all of them and made notes about where we thought certain pieces might work. That helped to figure out what kind of music we need and where, and in coming up with themes. I wrote a title piece early on, and it was nice but didn't turn out to be the right fit for the game. Then Alex heard a short sequence of chords in one of the other piano sketches, and it immediately clicked with him that he had found the theme, and I agreed. I was originally thinking of using it for a deep, cavernous level, but it captures the dark, haunted, adventurous quality of the game very well. Part of what happens when I try to write themes, especially on the piano, is I tend to write these through-composed pieces with lots of sections. Then, when I try to bring it into a synth environment, it tends to sound overwrought, too complicated with too many parts. So, we went from a theme that was sixteen bars long to a theme that is three chords.

Track Descriptions

Vignette: Panacea.

For a long time, this was just one of many piano sketches I was considering using in the game. Alex Preston (creative director of Hyper Light Drifter) was very much involved in my process, and he helped keep me on track, especially towards the end of development when the project started to become more emotionally challenging for me. I think I had been using this piano sketch in the credits, and he suggested we use it in a trailer. Using music that seems unfitting has worked quite well in past game trailers, and lately, it has become quite trendy to use pop music in game trailers to tie the emotions of a fantastic world to reality. I think this approach generally seems to work, and we felt like this was accomplishing some of the same things.

Vignette: Visions.

After going through numerous attempts at writing theme music for the game, Alex once again steered me in the right direction, honing in on just three chords from one of my piano sketches that he thought could be the game's theme. We ran with the idea, and it became a crucial element of the score which we used in one of the trailers, the final boss fight, and this piece which is the game's intro.


This is one of the first pieces I wrote for Hyper Light Drifter. Alex took the game to Minecon, the Minecraft Convention.

Wisdom's Tragedy.

Originally I had intended to create four variations on this theme (the tower theme), one for each of the four cardinal directions, but it turned out this version worked fairly well no matter where you placed it, so I never elaborated on it. It does show up in the final area of the game too though (The Abyss), to try and consolidate everything together.

Seeds of the Crown.

This track was based on a piano sketch, and a bit more lively and energetic at first. I originally had a more ambient version for interiors (i.e.,. the Drifter's bedroom), but Alex felt like the more ambient style worked better, and so we agreed to move in that direction. The darker portion of this track is the variation I wrote for the 'Dregs,' the levels that connect the Central town to the 4 cardinal regions. We developed tech to have elements of the music exist at points in space, but we never really used it. The one place we did was in Central. A little guitar player fashioned with the Disasterpeace skull for a head does a little improvisation along with the underscore.

Vignette: Corruption.

This was the first time I think we were really able to create a piece that fully captured the essence of the game. This was written as an escalating, melodramatic piece with a thematic send-off, for the 2nd trailer.

The Midnight Wood.

This started as a series of variations on a piano idea that involved overlapping hand patterns and an interesting harmonic progression. I wrote more variations of this piece than any other in the game (except the Gauntlet), and I think this improves its listenability as you are wandering through the opening section of the West.

Gaol in the Deep.

This chord progression started as the 'underground' part of a larger piano sketch that was meant to represent the West in its entirety. I ended up not using the whole idea because it had too many changes. I kept this section because I thought it captured the vibe of a deep place that I wanted. This area of the game is a prison (as you might have guessed). As the second variation begins and adds percussion, the intent is to create a sense of confrontation. This reaches climax towards the end, to match the intensity of the final battle.

The Resonant Canyon.

This is one of the only tracks on the soundtrack with an acoustic source (a piano). It's also one of the most improvised. I laid down a basic groove and tonality and had fun putting different sounds over the top of it.

Stasis Awakening.

This piece starts with the Jackal's recurring motif, just as it does in the game. This area of the West is heavily patrolled and felt to me like a base of some kind, so I wanted to create a piece that was heavy on percussion and had a bit of a militaristic vibe. I actually ended up repurposing a sketch for an earlier section of the West as I thought it worked better hear. The piece ends in an ethereal, atmospheric way to set up an eerily quiet traversal from the base to the final battle in the West.

The Last General.

I originally wrote something else for this boss fight, but it wasn't working. Alex guided me a bit with this, showing me a boss fight from Dark Souls with a giant wolf that had a melancholy quality to it. I used that as inspiration to write something that had a bit of a 'fallen hero' quality to it.

The Winding Ridge.

This piece came together in an unusual way - the beginning of this track was actually written afterward as elements to fill in the spaces between the musical elements that happen on the stronger beats. The finale was written for a chaotic battle at the top of the mountain from a very early prototype. This encounter was simplified later on, and for a while, the music was hitting the intensity level desired better than the battle itself. In that way, the music actually inspired the gameplay at the top of the mountain.


This piece came together very quickly and leans heavily on the sounds themselves, which often came first. Because this piece is very sound-centric, the resulting music was written specifically for these sounds (instead of vice-versa, which was also an approach I used at times). The 'swarming' sound in this track was designed early on for a battle on top of the Northern mountain that no longer exists. It was meant to reflect the concept of the cult birds, swarming around you. I think this sort of buzzing sound worked well in creating a kind of tense, and yet ambient environment. This track also features a MIDI Script I developed called 'Tremolo-ADSR,' which allows you to replicate crescendo accelerandos like the ones heard in traditional Japanese music. I used this to kind of sell the religious/temple vibe a bit further. That and FM bells!

Cult of the Zealous.

I created two very similar versions of this piece for two areas of the North that were laid out differently. There is a dry, narrow version for a region that is full of narrow brick pathways, and a bigger, wetter version for a library that leads to the final battle in the North. I think I was fortunate in that I was able to write the boss music finale in the exact same structure as the much slower feeling sections leading up to it, by subdividing the tempo. Castlevania was a definite influence in trying to get the right harmonic vibe for a very dark, cultish environment.


In setting out to create a vibe for the East, a pale, watery place of pathways and waterfalls, long drawn out airy notes and bells were the first things that came to mind. Some of the wind instruments also do their best animal imitations, with plenty of portamento and diving pitches not unlike the sound of a mourning dove. There are also some rather large set pieces in this environment, remnants of millennia old Titans, and those were a perfect backdrop for the distorted colors in this piece. Generally, when things get quieter and wetter sonically, we are heading underground. The music is extra wet in the underground sections of the East.

The Refiner's Fire.

I had a lot of fun with the drums on this piece. While still quite ambient, it was a nice reprieve to have a much more percussive piece. I stumbled onto a tom-type sound in Alchemy (soft-synth) and leaned into that patch to make it more closely resemble the drum sound of Danny Carey of the band Tool. I loved this sort of athletic tom-heavy drumming, and this was one of the central inspirations of this track. The main pad riff features a slowly evolving delay unit that pitches the material up continuously to create what end up sounding like peculiar harmonics. I push this as far as I can, especially towards the end of the piece.


Many of the east pieces started out as placid, Satie-like piano sketches, and I had to go back and try to darken them up to match the difficulty of these levels. Many dynamic layers were added to this piece after the fact to make it more intense.

Acropolis Falls.

I originally wrote this piece for the plaza/town area of the East, but Alex and I were at odds about this piece. It was one of my favorites and one of his least favorites, so I ended up extending out 'Cascades' instead, and using this piece for the Sunken Docks. I think it ended up working well there because it's one of the largest, most open areas in the East if not the whole game, and there are very few enemies, which I think gives the music a lot of room to establish a setting. Part of this scene is a giant titan head floating in the water, which comes up in the middle of this piece. There are crackling noise sounds and deep percussion to try to give weight to the vision of this titan's head, and to imply that it goes way down below into the depths. This is capped off with a late add, a more active, percussive version of this idea to go along with a chaotic battle.

A Chorus of Tongues.

This area starts kinda small with just a few frogs, and so I complemented that feeling with some dueling melodies. As the region opens up and gets deeper, the leads give way to material that is more rhythmic, eventually emerging from the depths into a drier, more intense march type variation as you fight all sorts of enemies. As the clash subsides, the music recedes into wispy pads, representing a memory of what has just transpired.

The Hermit.

This is a piece came out of a series of piano sketches that I stitched together, followed by overdubbing additional ideas on piano. I then spent a long time splitting out the various elements into a full arrangement. I wanted this piece to feel patchworked with lots of different ideas and patterns, hoping to give it a circus quality.

The Water Shelf.

This area of the East feels a bit smaller, and not as decrepit or foreboding, and so this piece I think has a lighter, upbeat quality. The underground battles get rather intense, so I ended up having to revisit that section of the music and add more variations to it.


Another piano sketch, this one came to me late in the game. The South had an unusual structure to it, and kind of came together from pre-existing material, such as 'The Gauntlet', which was originally written for a 30-minute demo we made for Kickstarter much earlier. Much of the South is constructed from the levels of that demo, and so we did the same thing with the music. 'Petrichor' was a new piece that I added later as the overworld theme. We initially used the tower motif here (Wisdom's Tragedy), but it didn't make sense to have the tower theme playing when the tower only takes up a small part of the overworld. I tried with this piece to create something that had the appropriate amount of desolation to it.

The Gauntlet.

This music is where I really hit my stride as far as figuring out the structure of the music in the game. We had a short timeline to do a vertical slice of the game for a demo presentation, so I had to get to work without hesitation and build it gradually over time. The variations were heavily influenced by constantly cross-referencing with the labyrinthine map of levels that eventually became the mass of the South. The music branches, introduces new elements, and often removes old ones, in an attempt to stay on top of the feeling of each individual level.

The Sentients.

This is essentially the ending of The Gauntlet, split out into a separate track for listening reasons. The first section of The Sentients is the first boss track I wrote for Hyper Light Drifter and ended up seeing a lot of usages. There are 5 significant battles in the South which feature this music. The post-battle music ended up being an excellent title track, as it has a sort of chill, plodding quality that we found inviting. The final sequence is meant to capture the gravity of a significant encounter with a Titan.

The Abyss.

The root of this track was the very first piece written for the game, and remained largely unchanged in its final version, except mainly for the incorporation of the tower theme. It seemed appropriate to include this motif as it is meant to represent the technology, wisdom, hubris and ultimate downfall of the four civilizations. Chimera evolved fairly naturally out of this piece.


The final boss music came together very late in the project. I didn't know what to write, and in fact felt quite intimidated because I knew it had to be climactic and surpass much of the music I had already written. Knowing this, but also knowing I did not have time to be precious and had to write because our time was almost up, I dove in and wrote very loosely, playing a lot with effects to try to create as gnarly a soundscape as I could muster.


I came up with a sequence of ideas at the piano and recorded them in a somewhat lo-fi manner, with a field recorder. The general structure and ideas were there, but the specifics were always a bit blurry, and that allowed me to tinker with the form and the details of the performance over the course of a 10 - 15-minute jam. Afterward, I edited this down into a more listenable form, a six-minute track.

The Heirloom.

This little ditty was pulled from the intro sequence and seemed like the perfect vignette for the death of the other drifter you encounter throughout the game.