Starfield Video Discusses Music and Sound Design

Audio director Mark Lampert and composer Inon Zur talk about the music serving as a companion for the player on their journey through space.

Posted By | On 26th, Apr. 2022

Starfield

Bethesda Game Studios has released a new episode of “Into the Starfield“, this time focusing on the music and sound design of its upcoming RPG. Audio director Mark Lampert sits down with composer Inon Zur and discusses the process. Check it out below.

Zur notes that music is the “fourth dimension”. “It is the emotional dimension,” he says. “And so, in order to create this you have to ask these questions. ‘Where are you going?’ You know, ‘What’s your motivation?’ ‘What is your story?’ ‘What is really pushing us?’ This is what really drove me more than anything else. These huge questions, they’re as big as space.”

Behind-the-scenes footage showcases Zur composing the main theme, and talks about how his way of looking at Starfield consisted of something called “the Sanctified Triplet”. “Everything is streaming, right? Everything is changing and everything is returning back. Here is your development, and then back. So basically it presents itself, it develops, it goes back.” Both Lampert and Inon describe it as circular. “You go out, you venture, discover, return,” says the former.

When composing the orchestral sound palette, Zur talks about dividing the group. “For example, we took the woodwinds and we created a whole woodwind layer that almost represents particles in space, because they don’t play melodies at all. They play sort of like a high frequency sequence. You know, like together. So they almost don’t sound like woodwinds.

“They sound something between organic to synthetic. Then the strings, they will play these long chords, long melodies, and long crescendos and diminuendos. And these kinds of things, along the line with the fast moving woodwinds, will create a nice blanket around these waves. And then comes the brass, and the brass, especially the french horns, are playing sort of like the beacon, the core of the brass.”

Lampert further notes, “Those instrument groups as well, a lot of times when you are looking at that whole main theme I’m kind of salivating thinking about ‘What can I do with that on a sound design side?’ Not just to weave the main theme into different key points within the game, leveling up, discovering new places, but could we use that as straight up sound design?” He talks about using the music to create ambience somewhere, and having it serve as a companion to the player and the single-player game as a whole.

“We don’t have control over how the player chooses to experience the game, so our sense of scale had to be totally readjusted in making a game on a planetary surface as we’ve always done before, and now where you have these very vast distances against this black starry background.”

Starfield is set to release on November 11th for Xbox Series X/S and PC along with being available day one on Xbox Game Pass. It sees players joining Constellation and venturing into space to discover different planets, factions and other phenomena. A showcase is planned for Summer 2022, perhaps at Microsoft’s rumored E3-style event, so stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.


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