Project Proposal


University of Greenwich
Project Proposal
In Play Sound and Music composure for games
Connor Lockett 000833484






CIS Final Project Concept – Music & Sound in Games. 3

Research. 4

Music Composure. 5

Binaural Sound. 6

VST’s & Instruments. 7

Silence. 8

Diegetic & Non-Diegetic Sounds. 9

Additional Areas to Research. 10

References. 11




CIS Final Project Concept – Music & Sound in Games


Idea Description:

This project is the exploration of sound and music in modern day media, specifically video games. This will be looking at how things such as Music Composure for games, Binaural sound design (3D Sound), the use of instruments over VST’s and how and when a musical score is needed (Is silence more powerful than sound), Diegetic & non-Diegetic sounds. All this can apply to other media areas such as film, VR, and any other interactive media but the focus is video games. The use of sonic journeys can be used like how mood boards work, having a series of sounds to tell a story can inspire ideas to implement into the project. Using music theory and sheet music can help stay strict to rhythm and structure and help with the process of experimenting with a scene. More technical aspects can consider how sound amplifies in certain environments. This can be measured by recording in a real environment and then re-creating the same effect in a virtual environment to create an authentic sounding immersive piece. (Idea Subject to alter).







Academic research Material –$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:1152968/one – Book (The Essential Guide to Game Audio)



Music Composure


All the notes of a treble clef, used and memorised in basic music theory. This will become useful when composing a score for the final product.

For the final build of the project, a genre needs to be chosen as composing music for a game relies on knowing the genre for example, 80’s sci-fi electronic music would not work in a medieval setting.



The score must be as compelling as the visuals of a game. Writing music for any kind of media is a form-follows-function condition. This means that the composure must adapt to the setting of the media they are composing for.

There are many issues that arise for composures such as:

  • Knowing how long the player will stay in a game level, how long should the piece of music be
  • If the action and intensity of the level speeds up or slows down
  • If the music will sound different on different devices
  • What format to deliver the music

Music in games creates an awareness for emotional connection that makes for a satisfying experience. Music can change the pace, mood and feel of a game. The idea with music composure is to consider why music can create immersion and emotion and how to technically create music that achieves this.

A technical aspect to consider is dynamic music. Having sound and music that just loops can become tedious so creating a piece or pieces that adapt to the game as it unfolds can build immersion for the player. The volume of the music can also help shape this. Louder more aggressive minor tones can create excitement or tension for the player whereas softer lower volume audio can put the player at ease feeling safe. Sometimes Music isn’t needed at all, something to consider is how effective is volume in media such as games. When is it ok to leave a scene silent or is music needed to carry the scene?



Binaural Sound


Binaural sound or better known as 3D Audio is a technology used to manipulate audio. This is an interesting concept for games as it can build upon the immersion players look for. This method can not only be used in VR but in games in general for example a first-person title can benefit from such an audio skill.

The skill is simple to create but the challenge is the immersion. Being able to make sounds travel in a binaural zone can create an experience like no other for example, having bullets in a war game and the sound clip play in the left ear can sound like the bullet is flying past the players head narrowly missing them. Small tricks like this lead to immersive gameplay and create memorable experiences for players.

The idea for this is to research why this is an effective method and put it into use in the final product. This can range from environment sounds all the way to making the musical score binaural.


(See for an example of binaural music scoring).


VST’s & Instruments


Sometimes better tools can speed up or make a job more improved. In this case it’s with Virtual Studio Technology and Live Instrument recording.

The plan for this area is to research into why VST’s can sometimes be the best choice for sound design in games over instruments and vice versa. This will also cover musical scoring. Sometimes a live instrument can give you an aesthetic a virtual instrument can’t when other times the VST can create sounds no other instrument can.


An image of a virtual orchestra VST on FL Studio. This tool allows for a composer to create a clean orchestra sound without hiring an entire orchestra. Is this more efficient?

The choice here matters because when it comes to composing and creating sound for the final product, a decision needs to be made to find what tool would be best to create certain sounds.










Several issues that can alter this decision are:

  • Whether the sound is electronic or Acoustic
  • If a piece of music requires a certain tone or atmosphere
  • Does the sound require a lot of altercation?

Other things to consider include what genre the game is. If the game is a 2D side scroller, the sound will be heavily VST to fit the aesthetic where as a psychological thriller will use acoustic instruments to portray horror as a person playing an instrument can create a certain sound the VST can’t. This also applies the other way around.




There is no such thing as silence. Even when we try to be silent there is always sound. So, when it comes to video games when is silence necessary?

The idea is to find out why Silence can be more effective than having a musical score in place. Sometimes a scene may require the added tension which can be pulled off without the use of a tense score. Sometimes a story can be told better with silence as music can become an obstruction.













Things to consider when choosing if a scene in a game requires sound or silence includes:

  • The genre of the game
  • Whether or not the scene can tell its own story
  • How more effective will a scene be with silence
  • Why choose not to implement a score

Other pieces of media like films and games use silence when characters are talking or if something is happening for example a horror scene in a game which requires the player to hide and sneak around a house. This scene may be tense with a drone score but may be even more effective if all the player can hear are the creaks of the house and footsteps. The concept can be experimented with and explored further using published releases as reference points to see when the composers decided on silence over music.


Diegetic & Non-Diegetic Sounds


One of the most important parts of game sound design and music composing is Diegetic & non-Diegetic sounds.

A Diegetic sound is a sound a character can hear in a piece of media such as a film or a game and a non-diegetic sound is a sound only the audience or the player can hear. The target for using this common sound structure is to implement sound correctly into a piece of media such as a game and to ask the question why the two sounds categories are necessary.

Short List of Non-Diegetic & Diegetic sound categories





The two categories of sound are always present when playing a game or watching a film so when composing and designing sound for a game, these things need to be taken into consideration:

  • Is narration or voice acting needed for the game?
  • When and where will the musical score be present?
  • Will the Diegetic sounds be Subtle or loud?
  • Are there any Diegetic sounds happening off screen?
  • Are non-diegetic dramatic sound effects required?



Additional Areas to Research


  • Linear & Non-Linear Sound and Music
  • Musical Tones
  • Sound Texturing
  • Technical aspects of Digital Audio Workstations
  • Creating a professional sound
  • Sound Mastering
  • Sound Limiter Control
  • Implementing sound into a game Engine
  • Unity Audio
  • Music and Sound Waveforms
  • Creating 3D Sound
  • Sound Roll-offs
  • Spatial Sound
  • Audio rendering and Output
  • Audio Hardware & Software
  • Bypass Effects
  • Music Structure & Form
  • Adapting sound to a scene
  • Pitch Blending
  • Azimuth Sound
  • Audio Kinetic Wwise







Anon (2017) Cite a Website – Cite This For Me,, [online] Available at: (Accessed 2 November 2017).

Anon (2017) Importance of Diegetic and Non-Diegetic Sounds in Film | The Artifice,, [online] Available at: (Accessed 2 November 2017).

Anon (2017) Silence In Sound Design |,, [online] Available at: (Accessed 2 November 2017).

Anon (2017) Surrounded by sound: how 3D audio hacks your brain, The Verge, [online] Available at: (Accessed 2 November 2017).

Anon (2017) The Guide To Composing Music For Video Games, Midnight Music, [online] Available at: (Accessed 2 November 2017).

Anon (2017) The Power of Sound: Using the Shepard Tone In Filmmaking, The Beat: A Blog by PremiumBeat, [online] Available at: (Accessed 2 November 2017).

Anon (2017) The Sound of Silence: How You Can Use Silence to Tell Better Stories, No Film School, [online] Available at: (Accessed 2 November 2017).

Brandon, J. (2017) Songwriting Tip: Understanding the Most Common Song Structures,, [online] Available at: (Accessed 2 November 2017).

Brown, C. and Duda, R. (1998) A structural model for binaural sound synthesis, IEEE Transactions on Speech and Audio Processing, 6(5), pp. 476-488.

Childs, G. (2007) Creating music and sound for games, Boston, Thomson Course Technology.

Gärdenfors, D. (2003) Designing sound-based computer games, Digital Creativity, 14(2), pp. 111-114.

Gormanley, S. (2013) Audio immersion in games — a case study using an online game with background music and sound effects, The Computer Games Journal, 2(2), pp. 103-124.

Horowitz, S. and Looney, S. (2014) The Essential Guide to Game Audio, New York, Focal Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

O’Leary, S. and Robel, A. (2016). A Montage Approach to Sound Texture Synthesis. IEEE/ACM Transactions on Audio, Speech, and Language Processing, 24(6), pp.1094-1105.

Productions, E. (2017) It’s Quiet…Too Quiet…, ECG Productions, [online] Available at: (Accessed 2 November 2017).

Richards, M. (2017) Diegetic Music, Non-Diegetic Music, and “Source Scoring” | Film Music Notes,, [online] Available at: (Accessed 2 November 2017).

Roads, C. (1979) A Tutorial on Non-Linear Distortion or Waveshaping Synthesis, Computer Music Journal, 3(2), p. 29.

Technologies, U. (2017) Unity – Manual: Audio Source,, [online] Available at: (Accessed 2 November 2017).





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