Team Composition: Play Along with Annotated Scores!
At Riot, we’re very lucky people—we get to write music for awesome projects, inspiring champions, and exciting esports events. We set out to write music that stirs emotion and becomes a soundtrack worthy of the love players have for League.
And sometimes, League players want to take a bit of our music and give life to those notes through their own fingers. (As composers, there’s nothing quite as fulfilling as hearing how musicians around the world re-imagine the music we’ve created.) But we’ve also been so busy writing new music that we haven’t really taken the time to help you access the music already out there. Some of you have gone through extraordinary lengths to figure out our (sometimes complex) work, and while we appreciate the effort, we’d like to make things easier on you by sharing more of our stuff.
We think releasing sheet music is long overdue. So instead of waiting until we can clean up the scores, we've decided to release some of the raw sheet music we used during our recording sessions.
These are the same scores that musicians, conductors, engineers, and our teams have used. Some of them look OK, some of them look like they were made in a rush (they were). Some have mistakes in them, some are nearly flawless. Some were modified during the recording session (“Should we take the trumpets an octave below? Let’s extend that A for another two beats. Cellos, make that a mezzo forte “plus”, not a forte.”), but these verbal changes are not caught on paper. If something looks weird, we challenge you to see if you can figure out what happened during the session by listening to the recording!
We’ll be working towards providing more sheet music to you, either in this format or another. We can’t quite promise how or when just yet, but we will do our best to deliver as much as we can.
Kled, the Cantankerous Cavalier
Ed the Conqueror
Kled is one of those projects where musical execution was crystal clear from day one. I decided to play with the big guns (a big, heavy brass and woodwind section with a cello ensemble) pitted against an assortment of bluegrass instruments (guitars, dobro, mandolin, banjo, etc.).
Despite Kled being a very straightforward character, I *did* attempt to bring some musical finesse to the music, especially in how the density of the voicings change throughout the various musical phrases. We recorded the brass and woodwinds separately from the celli, which did help bring out the intricacies of the string writing.
Also, I’d like to take a moment to express how grateful I am to be working on a game that allows me to write a tuba solo! What a rarity these days!
Camille, the Steel Shadow
The main melody for Camille’s theme was originally developed on a synth while researching electronic textures, but it was later adapted for violin. A lot of the melodic motion came from using the pitch bend wheel on a keyboard, something I probably wouldn't have done had I known it would ultimately be played on violin. This resulted in an interesting and angular theme, depicting her leaping and surgical precision.
There was a lot of experimentation in balancing the acoustic and electronic instruments to contrast between woman and machine. At one point, the texture of the piece started to sound a little too “PROJECT.” A lot of the electronic and motoric elements in the louder sections were rewritten for cello, ultimately reinforcing Camille’s elitist nature and making the music more exciting! It also led to the middle, more baroque section, which was fun to write.
I purposely left out bow markings from the score because I wanted to see what options we could get at the session. I loosely notated triple stops for the violin in the last big section and asked the player to improvise the bowing technique to get a thick sound. The cellist played that part similarly but an octave lower.
A big GG to Mark Robertson, David Low, and Michelle Packman for their masterful playing!
Tahm Kench, The River King
The meat of the Tahm Kench theme can be found here in this guitar sketch. I felt the melody really came to life after I stumbled into a little vintage guitar shop one afternoon, coming across an old 1930 Robert Johnson style National Resonator guitar. I swear the thing was staring at me from the wall and had a life of its own—I never played slide before, but with this guitar I could play like Ry Cooder (ok, not really :P). Still, it was a weird feeling! Somehow it seemed like a mini-Crossroads Legend, which made sense with Tahm’s story and him being a demon and all.
The dark ambient beds in the piece were made of bunch of processed guitar stuff in collaboration with Lustmord (master of dark ambient). The Vocal Hums were performed by the amazing Dug Pinnick of King’s X.
This score offers a glimpse into the editorial process that frequently occurs after recordings have taken place. We decided to remove several bars from the introduction after hearing the recordings and added solo vocal and cello parts, giving some more melodic and textural interest. As a side note—the main theme of this piece was actually composed for a different project, for a champion that isn’t from Demacia. This actually happens surprisingly often with music: While working on a project, we’ll end up writing a melody that we feel works as a musical theme but doesn’t quite fit the project we we’re working on. Sometimes these rejected themes find second lives in surprising places.