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09-14-2012   #1 (permalink)
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Default Inside Design: The Music of League of Legends



Thereís been a lot of buzz surrounding the login music for Diana, Scorn of the Moon. With so much interest in this particular piece of music, we decided it was time to have a word with our resident Composer, Christian ďPraecoĒ Linke to find out what inspired Dianaís theme, along with what he has in store for Syndra and future compositions.

ByronicHero: Tell us a little bit about your musical background. What you were you doing before you came to work for Riot?

Praeco: I moved to the US from Germany round about two and a half years ago. Before that, I was already a full time musician working on all kinds of different musical projects as a composer and producer, mainly in the rock and alternative genres.

ByronicHero: With your background in popular music what caused you to become interested in classical composition? Were your first classical compositions done for Riot Games?

Praeco: One of my former bandmates was a classical pianist, which led to quite a few projects working on fusions between classic and modern music. I think thatís sort of what I do for the music for League of Legends, which really is using classical, or letís say orchestral, music as a foundation and then adding all kinds of elements from all sorts of styles, cultures and genres.

ByronicHero: What are some of the different elements that youíve pulled from to capture the character of different League of Legends champions?

Praeco: Music is one of the most powerful tools of all to capture a character or a mood. For every champion I always try to have at least one or two defining elements or instruments in the piece. I think that going into extremes is really important. If you take pieces like Draven or Diana, in these cases I tried to find a very unique element that people havenít heard before and that theyíre going to remember when they listen to it.

ByronicHero: The first musical piece that you published for Riot was the Season Two login music. Tell us a little bit about how that came about?



Praeco: The Season Two login music was an interesting development. It was the first time that a login screen would have new music since the launch of the game, so we really wanted to expand on what was already there. The cool thing about it was that there was never really a conscious decision to do new login music. We really just decided to try something to go with the new login screen.

The response from the players was so good that we started to do new music every new login screen, which at the time was really just when we had holidays in-game. That was until the Great Hunt, when we actually made a decision to have the login screen specifically feature Lulu. The response from the players was really positive, because it was the first time that I ever really composed a piece that was for a champion. It really helped to define Lulu and give her an identity. Because it was such a cool thing to add that gave the champion more character, we decided to keep doing it. It was really just something very organic; it really just happened.

ByronicHero: Youíve started incorporating live music into your compositions by inviting teammates to perform Ė first with the cello and chanting in Draven and after that with the Diana vocals. What made you start looking for Rioters to record live?

Praeco: So many Rioters have talents that are things that you might not find on a resume. One of the key things about Riot Ė I think pretty much the most important thing Ė is that conventions donít really matter, and we really just want to work on something awesome, no matter how.

Youíre always going to do the best when youíre passionate about something, and involving Rioters in the music I think really adds something for the players, but also for the Rioters. In the Draven login music you hear everyone from Visual Artists to IT Desktop Managers to our Lawyers chanting Dravenís name. I think that both for Rioters and for the players, if you look back on these things say a decade from now, these are things that really have a tangible presence Ė they sort of leave their fingerprints.



ByronicHero: Thereís been a lot of buzz on the forums about Dianaís login music. What inspired you to try a different direction with this piece?

Praeco: Iíve never had the chance before to make a really quiet or ethereal piece. It all started with the idea of one of our artists Ė Mike Maurino, or IronStylus Ė he has a really strong bond with our community. He had this little poem about Diana that we talked about. We had a few meetings with IronStylus and David Abecassis (Volty), and then I started talking to our visual artists. I thought about having this very emotional, fragile poem about the downfall of the sun in contrast to this really dramatic and powerful visual of Diana would be one of these cases where the contrast really makes the whole experience. Then Devon Giehl (RiotRunaan) wrote the lyrics and everything came together, so we knew we had to find a way to record it.

If you look at Diana, you can really feel the tension and the very, very powerful story behind the visual, and then you have the mood of the music piece. The visual sort of lends a completely different atmosphere to the whole thing because you have this very innocent poem, but then you have this very dramatic visual element that really makes you aware of the darkness of the character.

It was a risky thing. I wasnít really sure if everyone would be able to appreciate it. We have many, many players that donít speak English, and I wasnít sure if they were going to like it. I collaborated with Creative Designers, Artists and Game Designers and we all worked together on it in our free time, because this was not something that was typical. Everyone was really excited to contribute, and helped put it together, even on the weekends.

Luckily, all the Rioters that I talked to were really passionate about Diana and really willing to help, because we could have never planned this. In the end, it was Lisa Thorn (Saiyaka), one of the Graphic Designers that sang the poem. That was actually her first vocal recording, so I didnít know what to expect. I thought that I might have to hire a professional singer, but she nailed it, and that made it even more special. The music was so powerful that it didnít really matter whether or not it fit with the other login screen music that weíd done, or whether it was less ambient than usual. It just had to go in.

ByronicHero: Youíre working more and more with live instruments as time goes on. Can you talk a little bit more about your future plans for music at Riot?

Praeco: With the time passing by, Iím always looking for new ways to create something awesome and unique for our players. So over the past few months, Iíve been working a lot with professional orchestras. Initially I composed everything with software, but more and more Iíve been using live musicians Ė either from inside the company or professionals Ė to try and bring even more power into the piece. It gives you so many more options and emotions that you can explain to the musician that they can capture, but the software canít no matter how many sound libraries you have.

With Syndra, the Dark Sovereign, I thought that it was very important because of the nature of the piece. It was really necessary to have more than what a computer can give, so we recorded it with live orchestra musicians here in Los Angeles. There are a lot of really dramatic elements, but because she is from Ionia, I wanted to have some elements of mystery and also Eastern influence. So we added all kinds of crazy woodwind instruments Ė some of them I canít even pronounce Ė and we really experimented a lot to find the right sound. You will find some instruments in the Dark Sovereign piece that you wouldnít even find in a symphony orchestra piece.



Itís about finding the character in the music. Thatís whatís most important, and it really doesnít matter how thatís achieved. If I have to get awesome live musicians, then Iíll do that. If I have to get some synthesizer that I completely destroy and abuse to get some awesome sound, then thatís what Iíll do. Or if I have to lock up 50 Rioters in a room and record them shouting Dravenís name, Iíll do that too. Itís really about finding what defines the character so that the players can get to know the champion through the music, and leaving them with a music piece that they can enjoy longer than just the one time they log in.

Praeco will be on hand in the thread to answer any questions you might have about the music of League of Legends, so be sure to drop him a comment. If you want to get your hands on Dianaís login music, or many of the other pieces that Praeco has composed, you can visit the new League of Legends SoundCloud.

Load up your playlist with orchestral music inspired by your favorite champions of the League.
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