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.
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
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
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)
game music goodness
Used by Permission (see below)
Maximum from Minimum The Music of Duane Decker
Review by Christopher Coleman
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
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.
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.