What makes a good Doom song?

Just recently, I've been interested in making music and I want to make game music for Doom as well as my own style of music. So I just want to know what are the characteristics that make a good Doom song? The guitar? Repeatitiveness with slight changes?

Thanks for any of the help guys.

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What I do is generally simple, repetitive melodies that start varying one way or another. Nothing too complex that distracts the player from the game, but catchy enough to keep the flow going. No need for guitars, but that is a staple in Doom music.

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12-bar blues structure, or some derivative/variance of. The vast majority of the original Doom tracks are written in this way, which I guess makes them simple enough harmonically to 'blend in' well as background music.

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Okay seems quite simple enough, any VST's you guys recommend for the production of this style of music?

EDIT: Punctuation

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Anything Doomish like this:
E1M5 - Suspense
E1M7 - Demons on the Prey
E1M8 - Sign of Evil
E2M6 - Sinister
LV28 - Getting Too Tense
LV30 - Opening to Hell
pe4_dt2:U4M2 - Return to the Abyss
pe4_dt2:U4M7 - The Unholy Ages
ExMend - Victory Music

(Note that there's other styles of "Doomish" music such as this, which depending on the style of the level, can fit very well.)

That's how I feel Doom music should sound like. Deceptively innocent pieces such as "Sweet Little Dead Bunny" and "Dance Of The Sugarplum Lunatic" also fit in great, and are way more creepy and most songs that are creepy throughout -- the transition from kids music to... whatever that is, is horrifying.

Fast Rock tracks (yes I know all the above pieces are Rock too but I think you know what I mean) like "At Doom's Gate," "Deep Into the Code" and "Facing the Spider" have always felt out of place to me and I've never liked them. I feel those types of tracks are heavily overused, though I do enjoy some of them, such as "Shawn's Got The Shotgun" -- though I still feel like it feels out of place, that is outside of Deathmatch maps.

Really it's the Doomy, spooky music at the top of my post that I feel makes good Doom Music. There's certainly other music I like, such as "The Demons from Adrians Pen" (which could arguably be part of the "Doomy, Spooky, Doomish" list), "Dark Halls" and "Into Sandy's City" but I don't think it's what I would consider a good Doom song.

Sorry if this wasn't the type of advice you were looking for, and keep in mind that this is a highly subjective subject -- someone may greatly disagree with me and yet be just as right.

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Archy said:

Sorry if this wasn't the type of advice you were looking for


No this was pretty helpful, you showed some pretty good examples as well as split Doom music into two categories of Spooky and Rock. But I have heard other songs from Pwad's which are completely different, but as you mentioned, it's all about the level that it fits into.

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IMO, ambient stuff like Aubrey Hodges' makes for a good Doom song.

It's a pity there's not more musicians following his footsteps.

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DoomUK said:

IMO, ambient stuff like Aubrey Hodges' makes for a good Doom song.


This stuff is really good, makes everything seem so creepy. I think I want to make some of this ambient stuff myself...

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Relic said:

I think I want to make some of this ambient stuff myself...


Heh, good luck. I had a go at it myself once, and it was much harder than I thought it would be. Creating a good ambient and creepy track probably takes more musical skill than creating a standard song, IMHO.

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Eris Falling said:

Heh, good luck. I had a go at it myself once, and it was much harder than I thought it would be.


Personally, I think most genres of electronic music are so frikken hard to make. I think I'm getting somewhere with it though. I thought ambient would probably be a lot tougher actually...

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That is such an incredibly broad question that it can't be answered in any other way than "it depends on the level." The level's aesthetics and gameplay both have a significant effect on what kind of a song works, or conversely, the song you decide to use can affect what's "acceptable" of the level. You probably wouldn't use the same song in a horror, classic or slaughter level, and you probably wouldn't use the same one in a gothic, realistic or tech map either.

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Eris Falling said:

I had a go at it myself once, and it was much harder than I thought it would be.

Don't be shy. Share it with us.

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DoomUK said:

Don't be shy. Share it with us.


Sadly, it's long gone. The ambient music was on the end of a GCSE music composition, I used FX 3 (crystal), a doublebass, FX 6 (Goblins) and a Bowed Pad, IIRC. While I was aiming for a PSX Doom style, it didn't go as well as I'd hoped; sorry Aubrey :P

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The difficulty with creating ambient tracks like Aubrey's work is that he recorded a lot of ordinary sounds and turned them into MIDI patches. You have to be skillful with manipulating the sound itself and turning it into your 'instrument'.

The approach to writing Aubrey-style ambient music is (IMO) completely different to writing Bobby-style rock/ambient music. With the former, you can't really say any of it is musical in a sense (other than pieces like the title music) as it's more of a sound-scape, relying on the texture of the sounds themselves rather than the notes that they are playing.

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BoldEnglishman said:

The difficulty with creating ambient tracks like Aubrey's work is that he recorded a lot of ordinary sounds and turned them into MIDI patches.



Well I started trying to make ambient music last night. I haven't used any real samples yet, but I used a hell of a lot of reverb...

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@Archy - I for one love those fast rock tracks and can't agree they're heavily overused, at least in custom wads. There aren't that many aggressive guitar songs that measure up to, say, Donna to the Rescue or Intermission from Doom. To be perfectly honest, music in many megawads doesn't feel Doomish enough, even if it's very good on its own.

I'd say the music from Icarus map11 would make a perfect fan-made rock track, and Become the Hunted (Plutonia 2 map11) is the quintessence of an excellent spooky Doom song.

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Well of course many of the riffs in Doom's metal tracks are hard to live up to when they're written by actual professional metal musicians and simply copied wholesale, amirite?

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To me, what makes a good Doom music is if it matches the atmosphere the level is meant to have and if it makes the player play in the playstyle that also matches that atmosphere.

For Example E2M3 in Doom (Refinary) makes me just want to get into every enemies face and just kill them with "Intermission from Doom" , while a level like E1M5 and the track "Suspense" makes me slow down, take caution, check both sides of an open door way 3 times before going though it incase of a hidden cyberdemon which is never there.

Most of the time, I do play the levels based on the music speed and tone and I love how it can influance me like that. It can make a former human is scary as hell when I'm equiped with a BFG in 1 level, and an archville is scary as a puppy in the next despite only being equiped with nothing but my fists.

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I was on a server lately that had a midi version of "What is Love" playing. I don't know why, but it worked really well, like, melodically. Unfortunately, I don't remember what WAD it was part of, so I can't extract it to share.

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Doom music:

Funeral Dirge: A slow heavy music that has the pace of a walk to the cemetery with a coffin.
The main line is low and heavy, with higher overtones in organ pipes.

Tone Poem: a series of notes (using low on the scale) played as if reading a poem (see iambic pentameter and the like).

Rock: No.... Is fighting music of a frantic nature, but does not contribute well to the mood and theme of a dungeon level.

The dungeon itself making notes like the heavy breathing of the huge monster that it is ....
... is more along the line you should explore.

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It depends on the atmosphere. If the map is creepy, then music like "E2M6", "Cchest 2 Map32" is suitable. If it's a boss map, then "E1M8". If a Plutonia Map32 version, then "E2M8". If slaughter maps, one of the best choice is "AV Map32".

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Woolie Wool said:

Well of course many of the riffs in Doom's metal tracks are hard to live up to when they're written by actual professional metal musicians and simply copied wholesale, amirite?


uarerite

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Daiyu_Xiaoxiang said:

It depends on the atmosphere.


I think music complements the atmosphere of the map. It has to match the map or the music just would just seem out of place. Map music seems pretty important for most people...

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Relic said:

Okay seems quite simple enough, any VST's you guys recommend for the production of this style of music?

EDIT: Punctuation


I would advice you Komplete 8 that is free if you don't have bucks to spend. After you need a sequencer to put these VSTs together, I use Fruity Loops 10.

If you're ready to spend some bucks on it, Komplete 5 elements could be a good choice (50$ only) I actually use this and that's already a pretty good product.

If you're ready to spend much bucks then take a bigger version of Komplete or Kontakt 5. Or Cubase of course.


Well, back to the topic about what makes a Doom track a good song?

I think it must fit the level, simply. You don't put fast-paced "pleasure to kill" like in a dark fortress full of ambushes and you don't put Deimos labs's soundtrack in a place full of fierce "front-fights".

I don't think there is a specific rule to this apart that a good soundtrack doesn't necessarily make a good DOOM soundtrack, you have to make the right choice to fit the mood you attempt to provide to the player.
For exemple I love many Strain's wad soundtracks but I think that some of them don't fit Doom's mood at all (map 1 in particular, MC Hammer never did good teamwork with doomguy.).

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IMO the best doom songs that come to mind are E1M1, E1M4, E3M3 (its really "Behind the crooked cross" by slayer), E3M6, E3M8

I'm a little bias though, I prefer the more action-packed songs, than the atmospheric ones.

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Ready, set, real talk:

There are hardly any qualifiers that determine whether a certain piece makes for quality Doom music. Looking through this thread alone will reveal that. There're too many types of maps, too many variations of an idea, and too many styles of music to bring down to one, set property. Heck, choose some random, very successful music tracks: Reverie Map01, UAC Ultra Map06, Speed of Doom Map31, Memento Mori Map01, Alien Vendetta Map01, and of course, something like Doom E1M5. They all differ from each other in one way or another - some go for tension, some suited for more breakneck maps, some with a progressive structure, and some with layered repetition. They all function perfectly with the maps that I associate with, though.

Basically, I think the real keys are: have it fit the atmosphere, don't make it distracting, and make sure you maintain the same key. Everything else open for business as far as I'm concerned.

Then again, I'm not at all a musician and know about 100% fuck-all when it comes to this sort of thing. Just some dude's opinion.

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For me it's quite simple: if I like the song then it's a good Doom song. Jazz music in a brutal slaughter map, heavily orchestrated music in some abstract techbase: anything goes as long as it is enjoyable to listen to.

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I agree with Memfis. For me, it doesn't matter what kind of level it is. Anything goes as long as it is enjoyable to listen to. Even though for the past year I mainly play Doom on a computer with no sound card.

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Yeah that Icarus Map 11 is awesome.
Hahahaha. :)

Feniks said:

@Archy - I for one love those fast rock tracks and can't agree they're heavily overused... I'd say the music from Icarus map11 would make a perfect fan-made rock track,

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You did that song? :) The Doom wiki says nothing about that particular track and I haven't seen full credits anywhere so far.

Anyways, good job on the music for map01 and map02, I've always loved them as well.

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