Raleigh composer commissions unique sculpture to craft video gam - CBS 5 - KPHO

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Raleigh composer commissions unique sculpture to craft game score

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Intense. Captivating. Eerie. These are just a few of the adjective that describe not just the visual drama of the new "Tomb Raider" video game, but also the exotic sounds that keeps  gamers enthralled.

The man behind the music is Raleigh-based composer Jason Graves, who decided that the score behind the fierce female lead, Lara Croft, needed to be spectacular -- like nothing gamers have ever heard before.

"There was something I felt needed to be spectacular about the music of 'Tomb Raider,'" Graves said.

Working with Raleigh artist and sculptor Matt McConnell, Graves created a one-of-a kind musical instrument that he simply calls "The Instrument."

"The first 15 minutes is nothing but this instrument that was built," Graves pointed out. "I knew I wanted some glass, some metal. ... I'm a classically trained percussionist, so I am used to tapping on things with different sticks.

"Different sticks get different sounds, or bowing something with a violin."

Wanting to leave a lasting impression, Graves uses a wide range of musical tones, peaking with every visual twist and turn.

"There is only one of these instruments that makes this sound," Graves said of The Instrument. "It is threaded throughout the entire score. The idea would be: literally you can hear the bowls being struck and say, 'That's 'Tomb Raider.'"

The game itself is a gripping portrayal of the origins of English archeologist Lara Croft as she explores a mysterious island and battles to survive. The score, Graves says, is intended to keep the gamer on edge.

"It's supposed to make you feel uneasy, like you're in an alien world," Graves explained. "Like you're trapped in a cave."

The Instrument itself took a year to create and is now housed at Crystal Dynamics, the California-based game developer behind "Tomb Raider." The process of creating the instrument with McConnell, Graves said, was an experiment of sheer creativity.

"People can finally listen to it," Graves said. "People can finally hear what everyone has been tweeting and Facebooking about with The Instrument and all these unusual sounds."

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