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Scorefront:  Karl Preusser


Composer Duane Decker

Duane Decker is an independent composer/producer whose music has been heard worldwide in computer, console and pinball games, location-based entertainment, television, the Internet, radio and live. With over 15 years of experience in the game industry, his work has contributed to bringing games to the forefront of the entertainment industry. He continues to score interactive titles as well as expand into other forms of music production and push the boundaries in the constantly changing world of entertainment.

Official Website

The Quick Eight:

1. What was your first memory of music?

My house was always filled with music when I was growing up. Although neither of my parents played or sang professionally, they loved music and knew its value on young minds. I remember seeing my first live music show at 7 and became obsessed with wanting to play. At age 8, I took my first drum lesson and the passion for music has never faded since.

2. Who has had the greatest impact on your music?

There have been a multitude of composers and artists that have inspired and influenced me musically. But I would have to say that the greatest impact has come from music fans and my family. Their positive response to my music has not only inspired me to continue to pursue my passion, but has also provided the fuel for me to be hired for more projects. Without that fundamental support, no artist or composer can sustain a career in music.

3. How did you come to work in the film / video game music industry?

I spent many years on the road with original bands and then as a Product Specialist for synthesizer manufacturers. It started to become very hard to devote time to composing, performing and producing original music and I wanted to get back into that creative side of the business. A little over 15 years ago, I read an article in Keyboard Magazine about game music and became fascinated by the idea that games could some day become a powerful form of entertainment. So I researched game developers and pursued them until one hired me. My first full time job was as an in-house composer for a pinball manufacturer. I was composing about 5 minutes of music per pinball game using proprietary software that played on a 6-voice digital synthesizer. Because of the limited polyphony, I learned a lot about how even elemental melody, harmony and rhythm could be used to create powerful music scores.

4. What film or game scores have had the greatest impact on you?

A few that pop to mind: “The Ten Commandments” – Elmer Bernstein; “Blade Runner” – Vangelis; “Conan the Barbarian” – Basil Poledouris: “The Mummy” – Jerry Goldsmith; “The Terminator” – Brad Fiedel; “Star Wars” & “Indiana Jones” – John Williams; and many, many more.

5. What is your current hardware / software configuration for composing?

Everything starts as MIDI files. My primary instruments at this point are Digital Performer on the Mac and GigaStudio on the PC. Both have lots of plug-ins and large sound libraries. I also have a variety of hardware instruments that can be called into action if needed.

If budget allows for live recordings, the MIDI files from the entire score is transcribed into sheet music via Sibelius software. Tracking sessions are done in ProTools at commercial studios. Final mixing and mastering is done in my studio using Digital Performer. Further tweaking can also be done in Sound Forge.


6. What other musical genres influence you?

Although I have been playing and composing music for a long time, there is always something new to learn. Every genre has something unique that resonates within its listeners. While I may not care for a particular genre, I try to understand what appeals to its fans and possibly incorporate that into my music. Some of the best music ever written has crossed genre lines. I find mixing elements to be both challenging and inspiring at the same time. I hope that it also helps listeners to expand their appreciation of other genres.

7. What is your personal motto or favorite quotation?

Smile. It makes people wonder what you are up to.

(concluded at right)

Get more game music goodness
High Score: The New Era of Game Music  - Tracksounds Special Feature

Used by Permission (see below)

Music Review

Maximum from Minimum
The Music of Duane Decker
Review by Christopher Coleman

Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance (Game Soundtrack) by Duane Decker at Amazon.comAmong the pioneers of video game music, composer Duane Decker has several distinctive marks in his career.  First, his work for MECHWARRIOR 4: VENGEANCE (Varese Sarabande) was the first game soundtrack release for a Microsoft Game.  Several years later, Duane Decker's score from another popular, Microsoft title, RISE OF NATIONS was released by Sumthin' Else Records.  It was the first game score released on DVD with 5.1 surround.

For many of his projects, DUANE DECKER has managed to get every ounce of story and emotion out of his MIDI sound libraries.  The end result becoming an almost iconic sound that call back memories of Vangelis' BLADE RUNNER or Brad Fiedel's TERMINATOR.

When deeper pockets and broader palettes are available, DECKER's composing gifts truly come into focus.  His piece "High Strung" is a evocative track featuring layer upon layer of strings.  The sights and sounds of Autumn-gridiron battlefields come to mind as the track plays through - nodding to the classic style of composer BILL CONTI or NFL Film's SAM SPENCE.  His diversity and range is on further display in tracks such as the Celtic "Hearth" from RISE OF NATIONS, the celebratory "Win" from CIVILIZATION REVOLUTION or the darkly beautiful "Doge Economics" from RISE OF LEGENDS. 

Beyond the two major milestones that are already apart of his career, DUANE DECKER continues to help push the medium of video game music forward through the careful and creative employment of today's technology which deliver the maximum in music from a minimum of sources.

(CIVR) "Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution" ©2005-2008 Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., and its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

(ROL) "Rise Of Legends" ©2006 Microsoft Corporation.
All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

(RON) "Rise Of Nations" ©2003 Microsoft Corporation.
All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

(MW4) "MechWarrior 4" ©2000 Microsoft Corporation.
All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

(DD PROD) Duane Decker Production Music ©2007-2008
ane Decker. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.


8. What would be your dream project?

I’m thankful to have been part of several dream projects so far in my career. Sometimes I was not even aware that they were dream projects when I first took them on. Only after I started working with the talented and passionate people on the teams did I realize that we could achieve something really spectacular together.

In a perfect world, my next dream project would include several elements. It would be an ongoing project that needed new musical score over a period of years, not just one development cycle. It would encompass a wide variety of musical genres to keep me challenged. And it would cross the lines of being one specific media.

I believe the time has come when an IP could be developed and released simultaneously in both linear and interactive formats and continue to evolve over a long period of time. While the differences in linear vs. interactive media still exists, the elements of great storytelling and emersion are basically the same. A strong story line, great character development, high production values, and of course, music score would allow the two forms to intersect. I would love to get a chance to help break that barrier and expand my musical craft at the same time.

Scorefront Composers:

Penka Kouneva
Assaf Rinde
Stephen Harwood Jr.
Colin O'Malley
Duane Decker
Karl Preusser


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