The soundtrack will be coming out this Thursday on PSN, and features eight tracks from the game and over an hour’s worth of music, all for $2.99. So be sure to pick it up when it comes out. I also have a very special treat for you. I spoke with Vincent Diamante, the award-winning music composer and audio designer behind Flower’s wonderful soundtrack, and he graciously agreed to putting together some thoughts on creating the soundtrack. Enjoy!
Looking back, a year-plus removed from working on Flower, it’s hard for me to remember anything but wonderful times with Sony and thatgamecompany. Then I think a bit harder and remember: the fights. Not fights amongst us developers, no. Besides, that comes part and parcel in the process of game development. Rather, the fights happened within the music. All-out brawls between themes, lines, instruments, harmonies as the music struggled to find identity when Flower was just this bud of a game.
Ostensibly, I was the one in control, penning each note in my music synthesizer as environment after environment demanded score. Not just any score, though; an ambitious score where the number of instruments present in the music ultimately dictated a different perspective on the game. From that simple directive, I codified a way of writing the music that would result in the interactive score I dreamt of.
In the beginning, however, there was nothing but fights. Instruments weren’t just masking or overshadowing their orchestral mates, they were outright demolishing them. French horns knocking bassoons to the floor, violins contorting cello lines, trumpets trampling over pianos. When I first started working on the music for Flower, I saw myself as being much like a conductor, gently urging sections of the orchestra into the space needed to fit the game. Instead, I felt like I had brought a conductor’s baton to a knife fight.
And then I started playing the game. And playing it. And playing it some more. I believe there were a few days in that year of working on Flower when I drove over to thatgamecompany and “worked” by playing the game for eight hours straight. Yes, I was having fun with the game, but I was also meditating, internalizing the rhythm, shape, and color of the world.
And somewhere in the process, I started writing Flower. There was no real struggle; just, suddenly, it didn’t feel like work to pen line after line of music. Each instrument in the score seemed to love each other, raising each other up even as they were added to the increasingly complex mix. Looking back on it, I can see exactly what changed in my approach to the music.
At the time, though, it all just felt magical.
It’s nice, now, playing Flower as just another player, reliving those bits of magic. That amazing exhale when you leave the canyon in the wind level. The drive that pushes you through a darkened city. The serenity of night that accompanies the post-game credits.
And while those magical parts were carefully composed and scripted for effect, the parts where the computer dictates the order of notes for a flower’s melody continue to floor me.
I remember one time, while playing the color level, a series of flowers set before the beginning of the third section of music played a melody so full of longing that I had to drop the controller to catch my breath.
When people speak of game development, they often describe it as a process of discovery. Though I’ve worked on video game scores before Flower, working closely with Sony and thatgamecompany was probably the best experience I ever had writing music. The music, ostensibly coming from me, seemed to keep on revealing itself to us from everywhere in the development. From level design, art, and mechanics to little things like the time needed to load a level and even the heft of the Dualshock 3; all of these had such an impact on the music composition that I couldn’t help but feel joy that the music was springing up from some space beyond myself.
And here I am, a little more than a year later thinking: I can’t wait to take part in that experience once again.