Far Cry Primal, from Ubisoft, takes us back in time. Waaaaaay back! To 10,000 BCE, in fact. Composing the music created a unique challenge for Jason Graves, who assembled a Stone Age "shopping list" of bones, rocks, antlers and rattles to create a score that's as visceral as the game. I talked with Jason about how he unleashed his inner caveman.
The Aztec Death Whistle, and some of the other "instruments" used in the soundtrack
Kate's conversation with Jason Graves
Not all the sounds are made by bones and rocks. Jason recruited some of the animals around his house to provide heartbeats and other noises. As he explains, "I love the idea of heartbeats, and I came up with a stethoscope attached to a sensitive microphone. My heartbeat sounded great, and I just thought, 'I wonder what everyone else's would sound like?' So we've got some dogs, and some birds. I wanted to get the rabbit, but he would never hold still long enough to be able to record anything."
In all, Jason wrote over 10 hours of music for Far Cry Primal, a massive undertaking that required tons of stamina. Jason gets in shape with what he describes as his Olympic routine: "I have three meals a day, I don't drink a lot of coffee, and I don't have any alcohol, and I go to sleep at like 10:00 each night. By 6:00 I'm finished every day, so I can clear my head and get a good night's sleep, and then it's up the next morning at 6 am to some more work, and no nights and weekends. And then you're looking at four or five minutes of finished music each day."
For a long time, Jason said he felt at a disadvantage in being a percussionist, rather than having a background as a pianist or other concert instrument, but he said he's made peace with that at last. "It's really taken the last five years to appreciate where I come from, as opposed to feeling like it was a limitation, and I think any composer or artist should try to do that, because we are the sum of our lives."
This is shaping up to be a busy year for Jason, with another game he's scored releasing soon, and many more projects in the pipeline. So watch this space....