Joel Corelitz and The Unfinished Swan on Top Score

by Emily Reese
April 17, 2014

Listen Top Score: J Corelitz TUF
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Composer Joel Corelitz (Mary Beth Manarchy)
View full slideshow (2 total images)

The Unfinished Swan is a game like none other. After the opening cutscene, the game begins in an entirely white space. I thought my game was broken, because no matter where I looked or moved, all I saw was white. It was a bit disorienting.

But then I pressed a button, and a splash of black paint flew from my hands and its splatter uncovered the environment. Splash more, and the details and dimensions emerged. Careful, though, as it doesn't help much to cover everything with black paint, either.

I had already been drawn into the artful world by the Baroque-inspired melodies of Joel Corelitz. Within the first thirty seconds of the main theme, you hear harpsichord.

I'm a huge fan of Baroque-era music (composers like Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, etc.), mainly for the intricacy and energy. Joel captures an essence of the Baroque energy in The Unfinished Swan.

Of course, simply putting a harpsichord in a score isn't enough to compare it to the Baroque era. True that. But the stateliness of the melodies and their underlying energy focuses the ear to that time.

That was Joel's plan. He was not only inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach, but also by 20th century interpretations of Bach, such as those by Wendy Carlos.

Artist Hokyo Lim is responsible for the delightful art design of the game. For the credits that roll at the end of the game, she created portraits of those who worked on The Unfinished Swan. You can see Joel's in the slideshow.

Hear Joel Corelitz on Top Score from Classical MPR. Also on iTunes.