Come listen to several orchestral scores from the Mafia II soundtrack and see what it takes to create the right mood for this action adventure.
Interview with Matus Siroky.
GameSpot: Tell us about yourself and your musical background.
Matus Siroky: I come from Slovakia (one of the member states of the European Union), and I work as a music composer and producer in 2K Czech. I have been composing since I was 7 years old, and it has been my profession for four years now.
I seriously engaged in music when I first started working with a computer and found it fascinating to be able to compose a piece of electronic music and hear it right away without having to call 20 musicians, who would have to rehearse for some time. I learned a lot from amateur projects that we did just for fun, and gradually, people started contacting me with more and more interesting job offers.
GS: What instruments do you know how to play?
MS: I started playing the piano when I was 7, and this was the time when I composed my first simple pieces. I enjoyed composing much more than playing something composed by someone else, even though without that experience and practice, I would never have gotten to where I am now. I play the guitar a bit, but I’d rather use it to create effects and leave playing up to professional musicians.
GS: Is there an instrument you wish you knew how to play?
MS: Definitely there are a lot of instruments I would like to learn how to play, but nowadays, I’ve been focused on learning how to use the keyboards--and with the help of virtual instruments--to simulate other instruments. Of course, there are a lot of techniques and procedures that are impossible to imitate perfectly, so they have to be recorded live. This is a big advantage because during the live recording, professional musicians can often bring new and interesting ideas, as well as their own details, that the composer often just cannot provide. This greatly enriches the music.
GS: What is your fondest memory when it comes to music?
MS: It was always fascinating for me to see my father play the guitar for my siblings and me with such enthusiasm and fun. In my interpretation of his music, it was peaceful, and I felt the charm of magical trembling waves in the room. Later on, I was strongly influenced by great masters of film music, and this is what I consider the turning point from which I started focusing on music for films.
GS: How did you get involved with making music for video games?
MS: It all began with minor, often amateur projects in which I tested my skills and gained a lot of experience. At the beginning, I naively tried to address both big film studios and game developers, so it was not clear yet that the game industry was the right thing for me. At the time, I was addressed mainly by enthusiasts who tried to break through with their projects, mostly video games. Later on, I was contacted by 2K Czech studio (at the time still known as Illusion Softworks) with an offer to participate in a selection procedure amongst a number of composers from all over the world. In the end, I was selected, offered a job, and that was the beginning of my work in the game industry.
GS: What were some of the challenges to creating music for Mafia II? What was that experience like?
MS: Composing music for Mafia II was very demanding because the development of the game was over a few years, and lots of changes and decisions were made that very much influenced the already-composed music. There were several instances where the music had to be modified and reworked. Besides this game, I worked on other three projects--Axel & Pixel, Top Spin 4, and another project, which required a lot of my work. I kept coming back to the music for Mafia II, and together with Adam Kuruc, an external music composer, we modified and polished the music based on new requirements. Surely the most powerful moment was a live recording with an orchestra and a jazz trio. That added a new dimension to our music, and after a very long and demanding work schedule, we could finally see some of the results, which greatly impressed and motivated us.
GS: Describe the process that you take when composing a track for a video game.
MS: This is very difficult. Mainly it is important what type of music it is about. Whether it is background music for the gameplay, music for the cinematic sequences, interactive music or the main theme; the music needs to define, support, and sum up the whole atmosphere and goal of the project. Of course, each composer has his/her own method, so the one I use is only subjective and there is no general rule. When I work on the main theme and see various references from the project, I either get a clear idea in my head, find a melody fitting the color schemes of the art or reference material, or I let it be for the moment and play the keyboards, as I search for suitable harmonies and tones. Similarly, I also create the ambient music, which is supposed to support the atmosphere of the environment. Of course, when composing the main theme it is crucial to find an absorbing motif strong enough to be remembered.
GS: What kind of music do you listen to now?
MS: Basically, I listen to almost every music style, but as a priority, I focus on film and game soundtracks, classical music and jazz, and when necessary, I study and listen to music typical of the period and place where the story takes place.
GS: What are your biggest influences?
MS: Well, this is really hard to tell. There is so much fantastic music and so many great composers. Listing any would be an offense to those I would forget to mention. However, I must mention film music in general, which contributed very much to where I am now.
GS: Do you have tips for aspiring musicians who are trying to work in the industry?
MS: This is mainly about what possibilities the composer has. In any case, composers have to listen to a lot of music from various genres. They have to analyze it, not only listening to it on the surface. It is very hard to break through into the game industry as a new composer. Either there is a group of people you know trying to make a breakthrough with a finished project or some studio contacts you with a selection procedure for a full-time composer as it happened to me, which is very uncommon. Also, you can be very good and just have big developers come and beg you, but this is quite utopian because there are so many good composers.
GS: Thank you so much for your time!
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.
Awesome interview, best Sound Byte blog post so far - Mr. Matus Siroky was widely generous in his answers. I'm glad I didn't skip this. :) My favorite track from that list is "Follow that car!".
The greed of these petty gamedevelopers that make halfbaked games and obviously is proud of their flipflop product amazes me. FU take2 and go make Mafia 3 the way mafia 2 should have been. last chance chop chop.
I dont understand why they release this months after the game has been released and yes it is a good score.
it's an ok Game for me but I wished if it was more engaging,quite lengthy,got story's epic climax and a good twist
Man Jimmys character looks awesome and is that the person lying with he's boxers on the cement Vito? please tell if it is or not hope not lol and the new music is GREAT
I played the game LOVED it, it was soo epic though at times it was a little hard and fraustrating but I got pass that I am way ! better than before too bad I had to return it for Fallout 3 yet a other Epic game can't wait to get it next week! :D
The ending track that came with the special editions was fantastic. It took the main theme from Mafia 1 (which we all know, love, and have fond memories), but jazzed it up by adding in trumpets and the like. Great soundtrack.
I think the music for both Mafia games were well thought out and executed. Mafia 1 had more music I had never heard but Mafia II had more modern tracks, I really dug the birth of rock vibe. Mafia II was just as stirring as the original, Vito was just as interesting a character as Tommy was. Great games, I hope to see more in the future.
I enjoyed the music in Mafia 1 better. The Mafia 1 Main theme blows Mafia 2 away: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VURwmP6bbqs
Found myself getting sleepy whenever I listened to the radio stations in Mafia II and New Vegas. Mafia II worked really well with Kanye West's "Graduation" and 50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Tryin." Made the racism a bit more tolerable
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