The Bonfireside Chat Theme Song

Kole here, for a brief one.

Someone on a Duckfeed Live stream recently asked about what goes into the theme music we create for our shows. This is very firmly Gary's territory. He is a talented composer and musician, and the majority of the music you hear on the network is his creation.

The Bonfireside Chat intro and outro songs are a couple of exceptions (along with the theme song from The Level). When we were developing that show, we decided to change things up. Gary would handle the visual design (which is usually my duty) and I would handle the music. The result is a piece that stands out from others on the network.

I composed it over the course of an afternoon on December 17 of 2012, in the office of my apartment. My primary inspiration was the song was "All Saints' Day" by the Silent Comedy which was featured on this amazing trailer for Dark Souls.

I'd never heard of this band before seeing that trailer, but it's such a resonant pick. It represents so much of the game's mood, and so many of the game's themes. It's lonely, plaintive, and spacious. It begins with the line "I aint' no demon, Lord" and ends with an increasingly desperate refrain of "One day will this be over?" Fuck yeah.

I didn't want the song to be vocal, but I had a guitar at my disposal. Namely, a cheapo Fender electro-acoustic that I bought for myself when I got my first grownup job. The primary accompaniment throughout "All Saints' Day" is a very loose guitar line in minor key, alternating between strong strums and methodical arpeggios. This guitar has a lot of reverberation applied to it, making it sound like it's being played in a big empty cathedral. Again, fuck yeah.

I tuned my guitar to an Open D Minor and started messing around. I quickly found the main riff for the intro: A rapid strum across all of the open strings, while ascending up the high E string from Open to 3 to 5 to 7, repeated a few times with increasing speed and settling back on an open strum.

After I recorded this, I found some reverb that I liked and mixed in some radio noise to better match the theme of the show's name (Roosevelt's famous Fireside Chats). I then searched around for some audio of the chats to see if there were any relevant quotes I could sample. Turns out, there were. "All of our landings have been desperate adventures, but we hope to meet their counterattacks with power and confidence." Perfect!

But the intro was too cold. It needed a lead-in. I tuned back to standard and plucked out a "campfire" style open chord progression: G-D-A. Picture a youth minister warming up for "Kumbaya". This would segue into Roosevelt's quote, and into the panicked main riff before fading back into radio noise, leaving a nice space for either the intro to the episode or some audio from the dialogue.

The outro track was pieced together from some noodling I did while trying to find the main riff for the intro. I couldn't, for the life of me, tell you what chords those are. It's a very simple progression up the neck, in Open D minor, fingerpicked to create exhausted arpeggios before landing (again) on an open D minor.

It needed some extra texture, so I cranked the gain on another recording and played around by just running a glass slide over the strings, not picking or strumming or fretting anything. This created those ghostly glissandos you hear over both tracks.

I finished everything out by finding an appropriate Roosevelt line to sample, "And we all pray we'll have far more... soon", which leaves things on a nice hopeful note.

It's served us well ever since I recorded it, and I'm very proud of how it sets the mood for the show and pays homage to the Dark Souls source material. The extent of my musical practice involves learning to play songs I like so I can sing with some accompaniment. The Bonfireside Chat theme song is one of the few pieces of original music I've recorded, so it's anomaly for myself as well as being an anomaly for the network.

I hope this gave you some insight into that piece of music you hear every week. I also hope you like it as much as I do.