Sound Byte: Meet the Composer Behind Dead Space 2 - Jason Graves

Find out what it takes to create a bone-chilling soundtrack for a horror game.

Most of you probably wouldn't have guessed it, but award-winning composer Jason Graves began his musical career as a jazz drummer. As a classically trained percussionist--who is also proficient with the guitar and piano--Jason found his calling when he worked on the video game, King Arthur. Previously known for his work with live orchestras extensively in film and television, Jason says that since then, he has never looked back because he prefers the creative freedom found working in games.

Horror games rely heavily on atmosphere, sound design, and music to create a spine-tingling experience for the player. Dead Space did just that, and while some game soundtracks might not do much for your ears outside of their original purpose, the soundtrack to Dead Space and Dead Space 2 is worth listening to on its own. While the harsh dissonant sounds may not be the most ear pleasing for someone looking to relax, the second album has some thematic elements that draw you into the music. Dead Space 2 takes a more emotional character-driven approach, with the tender sounds of the string quartet's melody woven carefully into the tracks. And if you're like me (who is too chicken to sit through a horror game), there are moments as the tension builds when even I begin to feel anxious--and I have no visual reference.

Find out, in our interview below, how Jason pieced together the music for Dead Space 2. And here's a fun fact for those who are interested: Jason has a thing for anagrams. Track 4 - Canonical Aside is an anagram for Isaac and Nicole. Enjoy!

Sound Byte is GameSpot's game music blog, which covers every aspect of music in games, including interviews with top game music composers and discussions of new and classic game soundtracks. Have a question or suggestion? Leave us a comment below. For a list of previous Sound Byte features, click here.

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Discussion

34 comments
ziproy
ziproy

The King Arthur game music was better than the stuff they had in the movie

blue_powder
blue_powder

you can tell he's a trained percussionist by the great unpredictable rythm changes in the first game's ost (I don't know about the new one). and Jason's also a nice guy, we chatted once on myspace.

johnsteed7
johnsteed7

I thought it was interesting that Graves mentioned how much creative freedom he had on Dead Space 2. I always pictured publishers like EA being very strict with their game content. Though it could just mean that music gets less scrutiny than other aspects of their games.

julianozuca
julianozuca

Very nice interview as always, good food for thought. And I'm a chicken like you Sophia. ;)

miktit
miktit

Nice interview. He made some very good points regarding diversity in playing/composing. I would really have loved to hear examples of the different layers he was talking about, just like it's done in the film about Martin Stig Andersen - the composer to Limbo: http://www.dr.dk/DR1/Troldspejlet/Spil/2010/0712114615 (it's in danish by the way)

sinn_gamer
sinn_gamer

I am sooo glad that GS started this blog! Just what I wanted. Now all they need to do is get Akira Yamaoka and Marty O'Donnell on it.

X-tract
X-tract

does that guy ever shut up? I came here hoping to listen to music, not some guy ramble on about his past stopped after about 4 minutes >.>

termadoyle
termadoyle

I'd love to see him in a project with Ken Levine.

rhysthepriest
rhysthepriest

I hope to see Jason Graves in future projects. He has quite a bit of potential.

Zcotham181
Zcotham181

I was sort of hoping they'd play a little without him talking...

Angel_Belial
Angel_Belial

In a game like Dead Space, more even than the monsters and environments, I find the sound and music are the things that are make or break for atmosphere. Dead Space's music was nice and suspenseful and creepy, and no doubt the second will be the same - I'm looking forward to it!

redder1111
redder1111

@Sophia - ok. sorry, maybe i was being a bit too judgemental without knowing the backgrounds. and what a bad luck :D the review went up just 5 minutes after my pm :P... anyway, thank you so much, Sophia and all GS staff members for all of your great works....

Sophia
Sophia

@redder1111 - it's called an embargo and we have to honor it. The review went up on time at midnight. And even if it doesn't, it has nothing to do with being lazy when we don't have the game early enough to finish it. Lazy is when you get the code, write an incomplete review because you didn't bother playing through all of it.

FearlessOb1
FearlessOb1

Yeah man the music in the first Dead Space was awesome. It really improved the scary environment to give a really good experience. Im hoping that he does the same thing for DP2 so I can get scaried $h!t less again... And I'll try playing with the light off this time. haha.

bandtnt
bandtnt

I will put on a Diaper just in case

hyttenhoof
hyttenhoof

Never realised the first dead space was a horror game before i completed it and afterwards read the review claiming it to be such. the soundtrack wasn't great, and the game is definitely NOT scary. even F.E.A.R is more scary, hell, Half-Life was scarrier. The game is pretty fun though, and the composer has my deepest respect, for the soundtrack in King Arthur was pretty good.

Elann2008
Elann2008

Horror game coming out beginning of next year? (2012) I wonder what it is.......

Elann2008
Elann2008

Already pre-ordered Dead Space 2 two days ago! Digital Download so I'm playing that baby wants it goes live!

redder1111
redder1111

Hey GS! are you really ok?! we need a REVIEW first lazy boy!

sword-man
sword-man

worst interview for the worst game EVER !!!!!!!

herodotus2006
herodotus2006

The track "Twinkle Twinkle (Little Star)" from the original "DEad Space" still sends shivers down the spine, so I expect good things with Graves' next work.

smartbud
smartbud

ahhh music sounds so epic....o.o

Fartman7998
Fartman7998

More evidence that this game will rock.

truantjohnny
truantjohnny

@ThePowerOfHAT Love your avatar. Polecats represent!

arkhamsfinest93
arkhamsfinest93

hopefully dead space 2 will add to dead space 2 like arkham city will be to arkham asylum

arkhamsfinest93
arkhamsfinest93

i like how king arthur is his first game and going to Dead Space strange shift hopefully the orchestra will add to the atmosphere This guy is creative and interesting the score seems amazing

ahpuck
ahpuck

great interview. Picking up Dead Space 2 tomorrow afternoon, can't wait to play it.

ThePowerOfHAT
ThePowerOfHAT

Sound Byte is one of the best features on Gamespot. Moar plz.

gashoe13
gashoe13

Interesting... I've always wondered how you'd ever make a soundtrack for a horror game.