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Oct 10

The Unfinished Swan Dev Diary: Original Music & Sound

Joel Corelitz's Avatar Posted by on Oct 10, 2012 // Composer, The Unfinished Swan

At its core, The Unfinished Swan is about the joy of creation and self-discovery. These themes revolve around two central characters: one young, who has dealt with great loss and loneliness, and one old, who must reconcile his current stage of life as well as his fate.

One of the initial conversations I had with Peter Scaturro, music supervisor at the Santa Monica Studio involved using the key components of the score to offset the melancholy of the story. I consciously steered away from anything that felt too sad, stark or desolate. Instead,

I focused on crafting a mood that was lush, curious, and warm. We wanted the music to serve as a companion for Monroe and the player as they explored the world of the game. To achieve this, I chose to highlight certain instruments and sounds that were inspired by the characters themselves. Monroe’s signature sound is played by plucked and mallet instruments like marimba and harp – youthful, resonant sounds that highlight his innocence as well as the storybook-quality of the game. The bizarre, pompous King is heralded by gritty, electronic harpsichord tones. I used acoustic sounds to imitate electronic, synthesized textures and vice versa – using analog modular synthesizers and extensive processing to evoke harpsichord and harp-like sounds. Too often, classical “thematic” scores are at odds with modern, texture-driven scores.


My goal was to blur the lines and try to find the best of both worlds: to use the opportunity I had as a composer not just to write a score, but to knit the fabric for this world, completely from scratch. Aside from live string orchestra, every sound in the score is original. The compositional process was about subverting all traditional rules in favor of something more textural, more free-flowing – like an ocean of sound. Classical theory and traditional harmonic structures are here, but they’re lurking far below the surface. In-game ambient music is always evolving, never confined to a static loop. I wanted the music to feel seamless with the gameplay, as if it is part of the environment.

And that brings us back to the joy of creation – there’s a certain naivety in so much of my favorite art. The Unfinished Swan was the perfect opportunity to explore that. I’m so excited to put this out into the world. It was an incredible experience working with Giant Sparrow and the SCEA Music Department.

We can all relate to Monroe’s mother and The King. The spark at the beginning of a project is what we love best about creating. The real work begins when we have to develop that initial idea into a finished product, and I’m confident that no one has played or heard a game quite like The Unfinished Swan.

//Add Your Own

13 Comments   2 Replies


+ GAME-HERO on October 10th, 2012 at 8:08 am said:



+ GAME-HERO on October 10th, 2012 at 8:08 am said:



+ T3DV0L70L1N4 on October 10th, 2012 at 8:11 am said:

Looking forward to this game. It’s very creative and unique. Any chance we’ll see a simultaneous Vita release?


+ The_Leducs on October 10th, 2012 at 8:12 am said:

How am I supposed to spread this across the internets when the video is private?


+ GAME-HERO on October 10th, 2012 at 8:29 am said:

You’re welcome Joel…I got your back!

    Joel Corelitz's Avatar


    + Joel Corelitz on October 10th, 2012 at 12:38 pm said:

    Thanks for the heads up. Fixed now!


+ Stinvil93 on October 10th, 2012 at 8:50 am said:

Would also like a vita release. Caint for the next two weeks, i cant wait to play Assassins creed 3 liberation and AC3 ;) #Playstation Rules!


+ MMAtt702 on October 10th, 2012 at 9:01 am said:

this looks like it’ll sound great in my 7.1 surround sound headset! extra effort and devotion like this goes a long way


+ hikarii07 on October 10th, 2012 at 9:22 am said:

The music is awesome!! Any plans on releasing a soundtrack album for this? :)

    Joel Corelitz's Avatar


    + Joel Corelitz on October 10th, 2012 at 12:40 pm said:

    Yes! The Soundtrack will hit PSN/iTunes on 10/23 and be priced at $9.99.


+ White_JackaL on October 10th, 2012 at 9:52 am said:

I love stuff like this, awsome job guys. I cant wait to play the game.


+ bigjosh50 on October 10th, 2012 at 11:11 am said:

I love a good emotional game and glad to see another developer making a game in this field besides thatgamecompany and Team ICO. The game looks unique in many ways and I’m definitely excited bout picking this game up!!!!


+ Envarh on October 10th, 2012 at 12:39 pm said:

Every bit of music I have heard in this game is fantastic! Will there be a soundtrack?


+ Drunk-ass on October 11th, 2012 at 4:43 pm said:

The music is fantastic! I will be getting the soundtrack.


+ oo7PorscheMGS on October 11th, 2012 at 6:06 pm said:

I can’t wait to get this game.. beautiful sounding music to add to a beautiful concept for a game / story. Support games like these guys…. what other game is like this????? None. Resident Evil 6 took 600 people to make… and look at the reviews it got…. this game started out with 2 people and I guarantee it will be getting better reviews than RE6 ;)

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