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Action-adventure game, Strider.

Composition Alumnus Scores Hit Video Game

CCM alumnus Michael John Mollo.

Studying composition at CCM means more than just traditional exercises in creating original music. The career path of alumnus Michael John Mollo (MM, '05) is a testament to that fact and a perfect example of how CCM strives to train students for arts careers in the 21st century.

CCM's master's program is designed to provide a comprehensive course of study in the composition of music in both acoustic and electro acoustic mediums. CCM's Center for Computer Music also provides studios and opportunities for composition, performance and research involving technology.

A student of Professor Michael Fiday's during his time at CCM, Mollo went on to receive an advanced certificate in scoring for motion pictures and television from the University of Southern California. Since then, he has been steadily working in the entertainment industry scoring films and working on television shows.

It was work on the major motion picture Star Trek: Into Darkness with film and television composer Michael Giacchino that led Mollo into an entirely new field of music composition, though. Video game publisher Capcom was developing a reboot of the popular action-adventure game Strider and, according to Mollo, "They were looking for an electronic infused score, and it just so happened that I was doing electronic programming with Michael on Star Trek: Into Darkness at the time."

Giacchino referred Capcom to Mollo and the CCM alumnus soon found himself working on his very first interactive score for a video game: Strider HD.

Mollo acknowledges that working on scoring for video games has similarities to the more traditional medium of television and film. “It’s really about contributing emotion, a sense of pace and trying to add to the overall experience of the medium for the viewer, or in the case of games, the player,” he explains. “However, the actual nuts and bolts of composing music that is intended to be interactive require a significantly different set of skills.”

Mollo explains that the music must be incredibly elastic, structured in such a way that a sound engineer can add or take away elements of the composition to support the action of game while maintaining the integrity of the music.

This fine balance is a skill set he acquired while studying at CCM and one that will definitely continue to guide his future projects.

Mollo’s biggest career highlight apart from working on Strider HD? Working with composer John Powell on the Oscar-nominated score for the animated family film How to Train Your Dragon. Mollo says that Powell is nothing short of a musical mad scientist, and he was beyond thrilled to spend four years learning from him.

Since Strider HD is his first video game score, maybe it’s too early to say, but Mollo says, “it ranks up there!”

You can listen to even more of Mollo’s recent work by visiting his website at www.michaeljohnmollo.com/home.

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