Music is an important part of Pen & Paper. MAB Music TTRPG has made it their mission to make music for your tabletop roleplaying games. In this article you will find an interview with this great artist and learn how to better incorporate music into your sessions!
How did you come to make music for TTRPGS?
It’s a funny story. I was Dming, as I always do, and I couldn’t find the actual music for what I wanted to do. I really needed a specific type of ambience. So, I just made it.
My friend loved it, and they were like “Why don’t you just post that on YouTube”.
And that is exactly what I did!
What TTRPG is your favorite and why?
I must go with Dungeons and Dragons. It is the first one I played at the age of 10. Back in the Advanced second edition era. It is also the first TTRPG that I Dm for.
When I was 13 the 5th edition came out and I remember going out of my way on a school trip to pick it up. Two days later I was in class and my teacher saw the book, he looked at me and picked it up and walked away with it. I was working on my exam and keeping an eye on him. He was going through the thing and I immediately knew he played before just by the way he was smiling.
The next day I started a game with 2 of my friends and him. That thing grew into a game we would play every lunch break for 5 years. 2 teachers and 4 of my friends would be part of that crazy journey. It was amazing.
How do you use music in your games?
Pretty much the same way you see it/use it in Film or video games. It’s the way I use it and the way I write it too.
So, there are multiple ways to do/use it. I’ll explain it in terms of level.
- The first level has for objective to support the scene. The music is subtle and will be barely noticeable but will help shape the ambience. In a game this is usually the type of music you have when you travel or explore a new place.
- The second level is for the music that contributes to the story. Themes are a great example of this. They are efficient enough, that enough space but do not steal the show. Here are some examples of themes that everyone knows and that fit that role: The Imperial March (Star Wars), The one Ring (LoTR), Hedwig’s Theme (Harry Potter). You can use these themes and their simplest form and the players will react to them.
- The Third level is something that takes a lot of space and elevates the stakes or puts the player into a spectator role. For example, a farewell theme (funerals), a battle/boss theme, a very dense piece of horror music. This level has a lot of layers because you can put everything that will make your player react vividly.
I would like to add that music is important BUT the clever use of SILENCE can be as or even more powerful than music.
Is there a TTRPG moment that you remember every time you hear a certain track?
When I first tried my track – The Crackling Chasm-. That song has a lot of old school gnoll sound effects, but it takes some time before the first gnoll is heard… Let’s just say that, when they reached that place and I started to play the music they were like, ‘’oh nice’’. But when they heard the first gnoll they were like, ‘’wait, what was that’’, and I just threw an ambush right at them. The look on their faces was priceless.
The version with the gnoll sound effects is on YouTube. For those of you who are curious!
What is your favorite track you made and why?
My favorite is probably Destroyer’s Light. It was the first kind of epic boss battle theme I made. It holds a special place in my books.
Recently released: Heart of Despair.
But my favorite one ever made is not yet released and will be part of my Dragonlance album!
How do you hope people use your music?
I just want people to have fun with it. I really hope that I contribute to the peoples games the best way I can.
This is why I choose to make music for campaign settings.
This is also the reason why I try to make something different from what is already out there. I really want to give the Dm’s has many options as possible.
Of course, the goal is always to make it listenable” out of game” so people can play a song in the car, while they write, play games etc. The goal Is to inspire people.
How much time do you spend making each track?
It really depends on what type of music I make.
Something that I am familiar with requires less time than a piece that is out of my comfort zone. Sadly, out of my comfort zone is the place I like to be, it is where I learn the most. It is also where I make the best things,
But something I am very good at; I can clear it in a day’s work.
But what does that mean in detail?
If you talk with other music composers, we often refer to the work as X amount of time /min of music composed. It is also how we price things ($$/min of music delivered).
But it can take as much as 8 hours /min for something very complex. It might seem a lot but what most people don’t think about is the amount of back and fort you are doing to make something good and flow well. You spend a lot of time simply re-writing stuff.
Then, when everything is written, you must make it sound good through mixing and mastering. That takes a lot of time. Sadly, its not as simple as ‘’sit there, write, and publish’’.
What TTRPGS or settings are you working on / planning to make music for next?
I am currently working on my Dragonlance Shadow of the Dragon Queen album. I am dealing with a family issue right now which delays the release of the first track, but I should manage to release two songs by the end of December. As for now there are about 15 songs planned for that adventure setting and I am really excited about it!
What is your favorite TTRPG music made by someone else?
There are so many composers I love from the ttrpg community!
I recently collaborated with some of them on an album named Dragonlance: Of Ash & Fire and it is available on every streaming platform as of right now.
It is a separate album from my own. This is more a love letter to Dragonlance and a celebration of the release of the campaign setting.
Every composer on this album is simply stellar. People to add to your playlist for sure. Some of them are already very well accomplished, others, like me, are at the beginning of their career. It’s a great mix of talents, style and a must have to your collection.
How and where can people support you?
The easiest way to support us composers is to listen to our music. You can also add our songs to your multiple playlists. But what helps us the most is when you are sharing our music!! They say Sharing is caring. This is true for any artist!
I am on Youtube and every streaming platform. You can find me under MAB Music TTRPG .
My twitter handle is @Mab_Musik.
Thank you for this amazing Interview, it was very fun, I love it!
image sources: pexels.com