Out Take: Jason Graves


Web: jasongraves.com

Contact: Greg O’Connor-Read, [email protected]

Most Recent: Moss Book II 

Composer Jason Graves has written music for video games such as MossTomb Raider and Dead Space, won two BAFTA awards, and built a reputation as one of the most diverse and innovative composers in video game music. “There’s always been something incredibly dramatic about underscore music. It stands on its own and paints a picture, all by itself,” Graves says. “If you look at a battle scene, for instance, the underscoring music can say something as simple as ‘the characters are fighting,’ but it doesn’t have to. The music can also comment on why the characters are fighting, or their emotional state. Music can boost key scenes, or illustrate to a viewer or player what a character is feeling.” 

Graves says he analyzes what sets each project apart from anything else in its genre, which influences his selection of instruments. In Far Cry Primal, set in prehistoric times, Graves forwent instruments containing metal to create sounds with stone, wood and other natural materials. And in Dead Space, in which the player is fighting mutated corpses, Graves morphed the sounds of typical orchestral instruments to create a terrifying composition. “I took a normal orchestra and had them play their instruments in very creative and fun ways, which reflects the game—I took something that was human and sort of augmented it into a hideous-sounding score.” 

Graves says it’s important for aspiring composers to not only write—but finish—as much music as they can, as an exercise to prepare for a real gig. He also says the days of composing solely on paper are over. “Now you have to be able to write and produce all your music in your computer. That’s important for new composers to understand. But you also have to remember that technology is a tool you use to realize something you’re hearing in your head, and not as a crutch to help you finish something when you’re not inspired.” •