Per Kristian Risvik speaks about Doom music
Per Kristian Risvik, this Norwegian has produced some fine remixes of Doom songs and add to that recreated a lot of the Doom sound effects in a higher quality. Fragorama asked him a few questions and this is what he had to say.
Claws: How and when did your love – or should I say obsession for Doom begin?
I got the shareware version of Doom from a friend and it started from there. I was already a fan of Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny, but the graphics and gameplay were not quite there in those games, so Doom was truly an incredible experience. Also, I’ve always been a huge fan of the Gatling gun (the old hand cranked one) and any game featuring Gatling guns caught my attention – the only reason I bought “Alone In The Dark 3” was because of a picture on front of PC Review magazine featuring Edward Carnby wielding a Gatling gun. However, one thing always bugged me with the chaingun in Doom; it had only 2 firing frames so you couldn’t really see which direction the barrels spun, and this was the main reason I did the “smoother weapon animations” mod.
Doom did also spark my career as a hobby musician; one of my friends used a Roland MT-32 for the music and I was simply in awe of how cool it sounded. Shortly after I got the Roland RAP-10 sound card as a birthday present from my uncle, and my love for MIDI began.
Claws: How come you started doing remixes of the Doom soundtrack?
Well, I did my first proper Doom remake in 2004; “Shawn’s got the Shotgun”. Although I’m not into heavy metal music, it’s one of my favorite Doom tracks due to the intensity and those raging drums. This track really makes you think you’re up against some nasty badies – oh the memories, the good Doom memories. The reason I made this track in the first place was because I wanted to hear a sort of “real” version of it, and I also got to test myself to see what I could do with a Doom MIDI.
My Doom port of choice is Doomsday (jDoom) because I think it’s the one that makes Doom look best, and I feel most comfortable playing Doom with it – I’m probably just too used to Quake. After I figured out how to use external sound files for the music, Doomsday did also help in encouraging me to make more Doom tracks.
There are a lot of remakes of the Doom music out there and many of them are very well made, but often the Doom atmosphere is not quite there. With my tracks I want to keep them faithful to the originals and bring back memories of playing Doom back in the days. I always use the original MIDI as the base for each track, to maintain as much as possible of the MIDI data like pitch bends and volume changes. Often I do modifications to suit my needs though, but I try to avoid adding anything that might disturb the Doom atmosphere. Drums are also an important aspect of the Doom music and I vary them to fit in with the style of the track; like hard hitting drums on tracks like “Shawn’s Got the Shotgun” and “Into Sandy’s City”, and then softer drums with longer reverb on the more laid back “The Healer Stalks”.
John Romero wanted only heavy metal music for Doom and I’m very glad Bobby Prince chose not to follow thru with this. The way Bobby Prince mixed different types of music works so well:
*The orchestral stuff represents the epic fantasy and fleshy organics of Doom.
*The synthesizer elements represent the sci-fi, hi-tech and mechanical parts of Doom.
*The heavy metal is of course the hellish, demonic feel of Doom.
Bobby Prince did follow thru on not using piano in any of the tracks and I like this idea, so there won’t be any piano in my tracks either.
Claws: Your project to recreate and enhance the original sound effects seems like a massive undertaking, how much time has it taken this far? Have you ever thought about replacing a sound file that you think should sound in a completely different way?
This has indeed been a huge project! It started around 2-3 years ago and again it’s partially thanks to Doomsday.
I’ve always loved to edit sound effects and have done that to just about every PC game I’ve played; if I cannot edit a game in any way I quickly loose interest and look elsewhere. Doom is the only game I’ve left the sound effects unchanged. The sounds are superb and like the music; a part of what makes Doom so great, Bobby Prince is a genius.
After many years of hearing Doom sounds on TV and in movies I finally decided to try to track down as much as possible of the source for the Doom sounds, having used the Doomsday port for a while I was really impressed with how good Doom looked, so the original 11khz sound effects were simply not fitting to the nice graphics.
So far I’ve spent hundreds of hours searching and editing, working on/off in periods. I’ve also read any Bobby Prince interview/article I could find, to get into his mind and figure out how he works Doom has a total of 107 sounds, which is a fairly small number compared to most games these days, thus each of the sounds becomes more important, and that makes it worth spending some hours of hard work just to get one of the sound effects right. So far I’ve whipped up 71 more or less accurate replicas of the original sound effects and it almost seems I’ve reached a limit to what I can find, but this is an ongoing project and I am always on the look for more Doom sounds.
There are very few of the Doom sounds that I feel could need a replacement, one is the chaingun firing sound. It works for the pistol, but for a machine gun it sounds a bit out of place. It would had been nice to seen the heavy weapon dude having a unique firing sound too. The plasma rifle fire is a little annoying and can be harsh on the ear – and I still haven’t managed to make a decent replica of it yet…
Claws: I have to ask about the PSX Doom soundtrack and sound effects. Did you love them or hate them? There seems to be only two opinions on that matter – massive hate or sweet love.
I’ve never played PSX Doom (the NES is the only game console I’ve had) so I cannot relate to the game itself, however; I’ve briefly listened through the soundtrack and sound effects.
As for the sound effects; tempering with the Doom sounds is a big NO-NO. The pistol sound works better for a machine gun though – it sounds suspiciously close to the Banshee cannon in Quarantine. When it comes to the soundtrack, it’s a little too “unmusical” for me; sounds more like ambience sounds and you’re not left with any memorable tune stuck in your head. So I guess I’m leaning more towards hate, or don’t care.
Claws: What do you have in your Doom collection? Any rarities?
I’ve gathered model guns of all the Doom weapons – except the plasma rifle and BFG of course, but I do have a real steel model of the chainsaw
As for stuff directly connected to Doom, my collection is pretty sparse. The only thing I can think of is a brochure called “The official guide to The Ultimate Doom” which came with the July issue of PC Review magazine in 1995.
Claws: Did you ever play online or LAN deathmatch back in the day?
Oh yeah, although Doom was not the game we played the most – I’ve only played Doom deathmatch over modem with a friend and I lost all the time, but I got my revenge in Duke Nukem 3D!
The top LAN game here was Quake, mainly because I made a lot of different weapons that made deathmatch more fun, at least for our LAN parties. Each weekend we would gather and test my latest creation, and ultimately these weapons became PerQuake. Unreal Tournament was also a big LAN game, but after a Battlefield 1942 period my days of LAN gaming were for the most part over. As for online gaming I’ve only occasionally played Half-Life TFC.
Claws: How would you want Doom 4 to turn out? Gameplay-wise and music-wise.
I’m not a big fan of Doom 3 and not the gamer I used to be, so I haven’t really thought that much about Doom 4. I’ll probably just stick to classic Doom anyway
That’s all from Per Kristian this time around. Check out his website at http://www.perkristian.net and listen to some awesome remixes from Doom.