Bone: Out From Boneville Soundtrack Available
October 26, 2005 — The soundtrack for Telltale’s
new game, Bone: Out from Boneville, has been posted for free download at the
The soundtrack site includes liner notes from the
score’s composer, Jared Emerson-Johnson, which you can also read below.
**************************** Liner Notes from
Composer Jared Emerson-Johnson on Bone: Out from Boneville Soundtrack
Back in April, when I was plotting out my first
sketches for Bone: Out From Boneville, it was evident that the bulk of the score
needed to be highly thematic. Jeff Smith’s rich and textured collection of
characters, locations, and plot events cries out for a large catalogue of
musical motifs to help tie all of the threads together. This is common enough
for any graphic adventure game, but it was especially true for this project.
After all, not only is the game grounded in telling its story, it’s the first
installment of a much larger whole. The adventure certainly doesn’t end with
Fone Bone’s reunion with Smiley in Barrelhaven, and therefore the score was
obligated to serve two functions equally: to follow the story of the Bone
cousins’ arrival in the valley, and to hint at the larger struggles that are
destined to come.
The musical challenge that this implied was
immediately apparent to me. Because the tone of the complete Bone series moves
from innocent adventures to dire and epic ones, all of the character and
location themes needed to be flexible enough to grow with the story as it
progresses from one game to the next. As far as I am concerned this balance
between the carefree moments and the increasingly serious arc is the heart of
Jeff Smith’s unique storytelling voice.
The first sketch I wrote was of the main theme
motif for the forest and the larger mysteries of the valley. I strongly felt
that although a majority of the tensions in this first chapter of the story are
basically light and fun, something of the upcoming weight of Fone and Thorn’s
quest ought to be represented in the main theme for the game. The lyrical,
flowing quality of this motif made it easy to tidily slip it into nearly any
other piece of music. It appears at least once in virtually every piece of music
in the game, and completely realized versions of the theme can be found in the
main titles, and the forest theme.
Likewise, owing to my natural inclination to
compose the mysterious stuff first, the second theme I wrote was the somewhat
dark and foreboding motif for Great Red Dragon. There is the hint of a
Coltranian jazz influence on the Dragon’s theme—something that implies both his
ancient spiritual nature as well as his undeniable coolness. If the Great Red
Dragon is anything for certain, he is cool—probably the coolest. Even in his
first brief appearances in the story we feel the dramatic weight his character
possesses. Much like the Dragon himself, this theme pops in and out of the
score, and is most strongly prominent in the tracks for the Dragon Stair,
Thorn’s Nightmare, and of course The Red Dragon’s Theme.
Harmonically, the main forest theme, and the Red
Dragon’s share a similar tonality—something that should point to the ancient and
mysterious history of the dragons in the valley. Incidentally, the first part of
Thorn’s theme is melodically related to the forest theme for a similar reason
(to be more fully developed as her mythic destiny is fulfilled). Of course,
Thorn’s primary dramatic function in this first installment is as an adorable
love-interest for Fone, and therefore this initial setting of her theme is
basically lush, romantic, and sweet. However, I tried to include a “larger than
life” quality in her theme—something that will be extensively expanded upon as
she grows and meets her fate in the upcoming installments.
Since they seem to operate almost exclusively by
instinct and a more primitive brain function than anyone else in the story, The
Rat Creatures’ theme is written for percussion alone. As the creatures grow in
power and organization as the upcoming war progresses, we will hear this theme
become a bit more grounded in that octatonic primitivism of Stravinsky and
Bartk that created such raw and brutal concert compositions in the early part
of the 20th century. But for now, they just drum on.
Ted the Bug’s theme is pure fun, and it afforded
me the rare luxury of having a legitimate reason for using a slide whistle, a
kazoo, and a jaw harp in the same piece of music.
Likewise, the Possum Kids’ theme is pure fun,
with a bit of an Irish flare—my own little ode to all of those Disney films from
the 50s and 60s when there always seemed to be at least one large family of
animals that was Irish.
Ironically, one of the silliest and most comical
themes of all is the most sparingly used in Out From Boneville. Phoney’s
scheming theme—while the underlying foundation for the opening Desert track, and
sneaking in and out of the locust chase music and the dinner conversation—is
going to be fully cut-loose as we approach the great cow race and all of the
barrelhaven shenanigans that are up-and-coming. I’m very much looking forward to
One of my favorite things about this project is
the down-home Appalachian instrumentation that weaves its way in and out of the
score—particularly in the parts of the story near Gran’ma Ben’s cabin. It was a
fun way to ground the “stuck-in-the-past” quality of Smith’s magical valley. It
certainly helps to strongly contrast Rose’s pace of life with Phoney’s sleazy
big-business world of Boneville. For those who like it, there will be quite a
bit more of this as we meet Lucius, and explore the town of Barrelhaven in the
next installment of the game.
For most people words about music are much less
interesting than the music itself, so I encourage you to download some or all of
the tracks and let them speak for themselves. Hopefully they will bring you some
of the same joys I had in writing them.
Happy listening, Jared Emerson-Johnson