Hi Reddit! I'm composer Christopher Tin. You might know me from my theme song for Civilization IV 'Baba Yetu', which became a crossover hit and was the first piece of video game music ever to win a Grammy.

I just released the retro-futuristic soundtrack to the new RTS game 'Offworld Trading Company' (available here). The game was designed by superstar game designer (and my old college roommate) Soren Johnson, who did an AMA yesterday. Give it a listen!

If you'd like to hear more of my music, you can preview it at https://soundcloud.com/christophertin

And if you're feeling particularly generous and want to purchase any of my albums or sheet music, you can do so at https://gumroad.com/christophertin

I'm also on tour this year! Come watch me conduct 'The Drop That Contained the Sea':

If you would like a chance to win an Offworld Trading Company Steam key check out this link: https://www.reddit.com/r/Offworld/comments/4hldct/christopher_tin_ama_giveaway/

Verification: https://twitter.com/christophertin

Ask me anything! I like chatting about hockey, TV (just started Season 2 of GoT so no spoilers please!), games, and travel. But if you're a musician and want to ask me real nitty-gritty stuff about music, composing, gear, the music business, etc., I especially encourage that. An AMA should actually be helpful for the people asking questions, right?

UPDATE: back from lunch!

Comments: 374 • Responses: 98  • Date: 

peterhollens172 karma

When are we going to work on an epic collaboration together? You know it would only end in good things.... example #1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17svtURunUk

christophertin103 karma

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Peter Hollens!

CircuitSide12 karma

I have to thank you guys. I love the CIV games and had originally come across Malukah singing "The Dragonborn Comes", which led to me finding this collab video.

Long story short, my nephew was a crier. He was adopted as an infant by my parents when I still lived at home, and any time they left the house, he would do nothing but scream and cry. I tried so many things to calm him down, but nothing helped until I played the above video for him. He went completely silent and watched its entirety without a peep. 2 years later and it's one of his favorite videos, not a day goes by where he doesn't ask for "Bayu, bayu", and he's watched almost all of Peter's videos.

But anyway, thank you, for saving my eardrums!

christophertin2 karma

Lovely story!

NewYorkBrass97 karma

Hey Christopher! Have you heard my latest cover of "Baba Yetu" (part of the consoul project)? https://soundcloud.com/newyorkbrass/baba-yetu-christopher-tin-brass-cover-with-trombone-solo

christophertin69 karma

Ah, this is SO COOL! Everybody check this out!

ApertureBrowserCore19 karma

How does it feel to know that so many people have enjoyed this particular song? How do you feel about covers of the song?

christophertin26 karma

I'm thrilled and delighted and honored!

JeromeLeroy_Composer91 karma

Was "Baba Yetu" written specifically for Civ IV or was it written prior to it and Soren / Firaxis heard it and decided to include it in the game? Did you decide to create the "Calling All Dawns" album after that, or was it something you had in mind (or done) before to Baba Yetu being used in Civ IV?

christophertin120 karma

Good question Jerome Leroy, and BTW I love your music. :)

Baba Yetu was written specifically for Civ IV after Firaxis failed to license a song by Hans Zimmer for their game, but wanted something in a similar vibe. After Baba Yetu got big, that's when I decided to create a full album like it, hence Calling All Dawns.

imverykind5 karma

Which Song by Hans Zimmer was it?

christophertin7 karma

The Rainmaker, on his 'Power of One' score.

Aeduh70 karma

Hey!! I'm a huge fan of your work. Your style blending the world's cultures and the traditional expertise of classical music and harmonies blows my mind and makes you unique.

What have been so far your most preferred languages to hear and compose on your albums? And are you planning to do a song in Catalan or Spanish in your next album? Thanks!

christophertin58 karma

One of the original songs for Calling All Dawns was a flamenco influenced setting of a Lorca's Cancion del Jinete, but got scrapped when Calling All Dawns started becoming about the cycle of life. But I'd like to revisit flamenco, or other Spanish-language musical traditions for sure!

Aeduh20 karma

That actually sounds very cool!

Medieval style musical traditions here in Spain (and western europe) are so underestimated and poorly known. If you dig into that your mind will be blown. I recommend Jordi Savall.

christophertin18 karma

Ah, thanks for the recommendation. I need to study more.

alystair3 karma

I'd suggest getting Juan Serrano involved somehow for anything flamenco :)

christophertin4 karma

I'll have to listen to him. I was really into Estrella Morente a few years back.

alystair5 karma

by the way thank you so much for answering everyone as equals of sorts - many AMAs don't have that level of respect (nor patience). It's been cool to see other artists pop-in as well :)

christophertin6 karma

You're most welcome. I'm here to help!

valttuuuuuuuuuu69 karma

Baba yetu, yetu uliye Mbinguni yetu, yetu amina! Baba yetu yetu uliye M jina lako e litukuzwe?

christophertin74 karma


Corcorigan32 karma

Hey Chris, have you ever played any of the Europa Universalis games? Here's the main theme for the IV entry, I think you're gonna love it if you haven't listened to it already! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99_qehhZUds

christophertin29 karma

Have not, but that's a beautiful theme! Reminds me of Dvorak.

Dascandy3 karma

Yeah, reminds me of Dvorak's 9th symphony 2nd movement...

christophertin4 karma

Dvorak's 9th symphony 2nd movement

Good catch. And did you know that I actually quote that movement on my OTC score? It's on a piece called Brave New Planet... listen until the very end! (Clever, eh? LOL)

Tacoman40431 karma

When I first showed my girlfriend Civ IV about a year ago she immediately recognized the song because she had to sing it in choir in high school. Did you ever think something like that would happen?

christophertin52 karma

Not when I wrote it, no! Although I did get a sense that maybe I'd done something special the first time I played it for my friends, and got their reactions to it. But I never thought it would blow up this big. At most, I was just hoping it would get me more game work. (Which it oddly didn't do all that much.)

Heeble-Fleeble31 karma

Mr. Tin! Thank you for my birthday gift! Last year my wife contacted you about my birthday and you sent me a card and a signed copy of the Calling All Dawns sheet music. I was thrilled!

My question is: Since you have won two Grammys, have you ever thought about composing music for movies and plays so you can go after the prestigious E.G.O.T. (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony)?

christophertin34 karma

Belated Happy Birthday /u/Heebie-Fleebie! And yes, I'm starting to do more film and TV work, and would love to get into musical theatre. Not necessarily to go after an EGOT (although how awesome would that be?) but more out of restlessness and a desire to branch out creatively.

Corcorigan20 karma

Hey Chris, once again thank you for doing this. Have you seen/listened to the musical "Hamilton"? What's your take on it?

christophertin27 karma

Only saw a brief segment of it at the Grammys this year, but it's amazing! And I have a pretty good inside connection to get tix next time I'm in NY (Lin Manuel-Miranda and I have the same publisher), so I'm totally going to work that and try to weasel my way in. :)

dragonflash20 karma

Hey there! Congrats again on your Guinness Award :D

My favorite thing about your music is how amazingly the music and lyrics come together. While the music itself is amazing, reading along with the translations adds another layer of powerful imagery for me.

My question is, what inspired you to pick the literary pieces you did for Calling All Dawns? I'm sure The Drop That Contained The Sea was more straightforward, finding songs that referenced the water cycle, but Calling All Dawns had such different messages, and things I would have probably never heard of, like Mado Kara Mieru or Kia Hora Te Marino.

christophertin28 karma

I literally looked at a map of the world and said, "I need something from here, and something from here-ish, and something from this corner." LOL. But seriously, once I had a geographical sense of what I want, it was a matter of poking around on Wikipedia and understanding what vocal performance techniques came from that part of the world, then researching the hell out of them.

MichelleSaddic13 karma

What DAW(s) do you use?

christophertin16 karma

Logic for sequencing, Pro Tools for editing audio.

SelectAll_Delete13 karma

Are you and Taylor Swift going to collaborate on something in the future? The orchestral version of Bad Blood was amazing!

christophertin9 karma

Hahah! Who knows? I'd love it, but she's a pretty busy gal. :)

bluecoffee12 karma

Which other composers have styles most similar to yours? When I've previously looked for albums similar to Dawns/Drop I haven't had any luck (probably because I know next to nothing about classical music)

Incidentally, this AMA lead me to notice you're in London later this year. Tickets bought!

christophertin19 karma

Awesome! Thanks for coming to the London show!

And there aren't a ton, to be honest. I can only name a few projects that are similar in concept, but have very different vibes: the Prayer Cycle albums by Jonathan Elias, Karl Jenkins Adiemus project (though that's more new age), and a few soundtracks, like The Mission and The Power of One.

Phat_Cat104510 karma

Hello sir! I love listening to the Calling All Dawns album, Mado Kara Mieru being a personal favorite. I was just curious if there was any language that was a personal favorite of yours, like did any linguistic style pop out to you? All the best.

christophertin11 karma

Ooh, tough, but I'd say Sanskrit is a great language to work with. The African languages can be pretty fun too, and have some great consonant sounds. Japanese is a breeze. Hard ones: Farsi, French, Mandarin.

Phat_Cat10454 karma

Thanks! Also, French being one of the hard ones surprises me honestly. I would think French would really roll off the tongue so to speak.

christophertin10 karma

Ah, mais non. The vowel sounds are very complicated, and there are a lot of tough decisions to make, like whether silent syllables get their own note treatments, etc.

nova772 karma

No love for Italian? ;)

christophertin5 karma

Italian is almost too easy to work with. :)

Phat_Cat10452 karma

Huh, those are just some things as a listener you never think of! Very interesting, thank you. What your song in Maori? Seems like a harsher tone of language.

christophertin3 karma

I wouldn't say it's one of the harshest, but Maori oratory on the whole is pretty spectacularly dramatic!

foneafone9 karma

I'm a great fan of your work, my favorite song ever is easily Iza Ngomso, and I'm pleased to hear about the OTC soundtrack. Seeing as you have composed music for games, do you play video games? If so what are your favorites?

christophertin16 karma

I definitely play games! Red Dead Redemption, Uncharted series, The Last of Us, Far Cry, GTA. And of course, the countless hours playing Civ.

cloudburn243 karma

Uncharted 4 HYPE?! One more week...

christophertin6 karma

Seriously, right? It's what the wife and I have been waiting for before getting a PS4.

Driacha8 karma


first of all: You are soo awesome <3 Okay, my question. For your new Album (or maybe the one after that, whenever it might come), are you planning to have a piece sung in German? The question might sound a bit weird, but as a German, I don't think there are many good songs sung in German, especially no choral ones. And I know that if you would write one in German, it would totally rock. Anyway, can't wait for your next Album,

much love, Julia

christophertin7 karma

There are some great song cycles in German though! Hello, Das Lied von der Erde? And maybe! I've barely started working on the new one, but I'm always looking for new linguistic inspiration.

rockymountainoysters8 karma

I drive full time for Uber/Lyft here in Denver and I often play your music for my passengers. Many of them ask to see the CD and take pictures of the album cover so they can buy it of listen later on Spotify.

We have people living here from all around the world, and my favorite thing ever is when I get a passenger who's a native speaker of one of the languages you've composed in. I put on the track, and then sing along with the song & proceed to blow their mind. So far, I've been able to find speakers for nearly every modern language you've composed in, and even several who understand Sanskrit!

I was lucky to find out about Fairview High's amazing performance of "Drop" just in the nick of time so I could attend. My question is, what's the best way to make absodamnlutely sure I don't ever miss a local performance of your music? I typically hear about them only within a couple weeks of the performance date.

Edit: One other question: where can "Song of the Mountain" be purchased and downloaded?

Thank you for being such an accessible artist and for inspiring in me a deeper love of global language and culture! Also, please do Spanish!

christophertin6 karma

Hello again /u/rockymountainoysters!

I think the best way to catch my shows is just to keep an eye on my Facebook page. I'm pretty sloppy when it comes to updating my website and sending out email blasts (I just hate intruding on people's inboxes), but I'm pretty on top of it with Facebook. Or, frankly, just DM me from time to time and ask if I have anything going on in the CO area!

rockymountainoysters1 karma

Thank you! I edited in a second question whilst you were replying so I was too late with it: Where can Song of the Mountain be purchased and downloaded? Or will it appear on a future album release?

christophertin3 karma

Thinking future album release for now... :)

mattanLA123458 karma

Hi! Just got back from IDIG fest in Dublin, Baba Yetu was glorious!

Anyways, my question is, what are your favorite sample libraries to use for mock ups?

christophertin5 karma

Deeply into Spitfire these days!

LinkIRL2 karma

Woo! iDIG! I just got back as well!

christophertin1 karma

Sorry I missed you all!

_REDSTOOL_7 karma

Hey Christopher. Huge fan, own both Calling and Drop, plus have a signed Stereo Alchemy CD.

questions for you:

A) who is or was your biggest musical influence?

B) what gives you your motivation for what you do?


christophertin29 karma

Thanks! Tough questions!

A) in no particular order, Brahms, Holst, Stravinsky, Copland, Prokofiev, Mahler, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Pink Floyd, Florence & the Machine, The Beatles, Vince Mendoza, Boublil/Schoenberg, Andrew Lloyd Webber... boy of boy, could do this for hours....

B) lack of any other marketable skill other than writing music

nutsandpistachios6 karma

Hey!! I'm a massive fan of both your albums, thank you for your genuinely top quality music.

I studied music at Leeds University, but dropped out because the composition module only focused on avante garde classical music, and I just couldn't hack it lol. I tried to find something experimental which I didn't dislike, and I've struggled with that. I wondered what your thoughts are about avante garde classical music, and do you think universities focus on it too much these days? And, do you have any suggestions for something avante garde which you genuinely like?

christophertin15 karma

This is a complicated issue.

On one hand, I dislike how in academia there's pressure to write avant garde music, and that if you don't, or if god forbid you write a hummable tune, you're considered out of date, commercial, and generally not worthy of having a concert composing career. (I dislike snobbery.)

On the other hand, I really like avant garde music. It tickles me intellectually. I love composers like Thomas Ades (America: A Prophesy), Andrew Norman (Gran Turismo), John Corigliano (Circus Maximus), and so forth. Some avant garde music is great, some is just sort of forgettable for me, but I think there's a lot that can be learned from their thought processes that you can apply to your own. And plus, they orchestrate like nobody's business.

But I'd say there's plenty in classical avant garde that you could learn and integrate into your own style. Start with a classic piece like Black Angels (George Crumb) or Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (Penderecki), and just think about what techniques they used that might find a home in your own music.

danpascooch6 karma

Hey Chris, is there any game you haven't made music for but wish you had the opportunity to?

christophertin17 karma

I have a hard time imagining a lot of titles out there without the music they already have, as I have a great respect for a lot of my colleagues. That said, I'd love to score an entire Civ-style game all on my own, and not just write the opening theme. I think there's huge potential for writing some history/world-encompassing music, and I can finally put to good use all those undergraduate years of studying classical western and world music. :)

hydog5 karma

Hey Christopher,

Much of the Offworld Trading Company OST features slow-building, repetitive crescendos, which compliments the gameplay. Were these long stretches digitally repeated or was everything recorded live? If it was a live recording, how do you coordinate giving musicians in the band a breath?


christophertin7 karma

Good question! We had to give the players lots of breaks... the brass to rest their lips, and the strings to shake out their bow arms. I thought it would be sort of interesting to treat all the live players in an almost robotic manner, so we did things that were sort of counter-intuitive to what live players usually do. But everything was recorded live... even all those long stretches of 16th notes that just repeat... live! Unique snowflakes, each and every note. :)

3StoneBlue5 karma

Would you ever consider doing a music pack for DOTA 2?

christophertin3 karma

Of course!

crazedhatter5 karma

You, good sir, have made one of my absolute all time favorite soungs of any sort, video game or otherwise, I love Baba Yetu, and by extension now that I know who made it, I am deeply interested in you. So obviously I could do a little searching, but I'm curious what other stuff you've made that you yourself think is your best work?

christophertin17 karma

I think of my song 'Waloyo Yamoni' from my album 'The Drop That Contained the Sea' as sort of my masterpiece (so far). If you like Baba Yetu, I think you'd probably like that one.

APieceOfWorkAmI2 karma

Seconded! Waloyo Yamoni is nothing short of extraordinary.

christophertin3 karma

Thank you. :)

007hatman5 karma

I'm a huge fan of your work and really wish you were coming to San Francisco on the tour!!! Anyways my question is, how do you approach projects that use so many different languages? Do you find text in those languages and then write a song around that or do you actually translate into those languages? Thanks!

christophertin7 karma

I find a lot of collaborators to help me with sourcing texts, then teaching me to pronounce and set them to music. I'm from the Bay Area, BTW, so go Giants!

cowgirl47885 karma

Hey Christopher! I hear you're turning 40 years old soon? What are you doing to celebrate?

christophertin8 karma

I'm going on a fly-fishing/horseback riding trip to Montana with my wife. Yeehaw!

WeaponX55 karma

Hi Chris,

I've been a huge fan of your work from "Baba Yetu" in Civ IV, to the Calling All Dawns soundtrack in Civ World, to The Drop the Contained the Sea (Waloyo Yamoni is superb). I recently attended your concert of Calling All Dawns at the Lincoln Center in NYC (what a great show!) and I am blown away by how good the new Offworld Trading Company soundtrack is. All of that being said, I'm most eagerly anticipating your future works!

My question is, in your opinion, which video game soundtracks / themes do you consider masterpieces? And likewise, which movie soundtracks / themes?

christophertin7 karma

Boy, so many good ones. I'm going to focus on movie soundtracks here: Thomas Newman 'Angels in America', John Williams 'The Empire Strikes Back', Hans Zimmer 'Inception', 'The Power of One', Ennio Morricone 'The Mission', John Powell 'Kung Fu Panda', 'The Italian Job', etc.

Antranik5 karma

Another Chris wants to know why you're such a punk and don't swing on the traveling rings anymore? :-P :-P

christophertin6 karma

Happy birthday old man! ;)

JimDeLaHunt5 karma

I'm curious about how you balance two parts of being a composer in this day and age: your obvious enthusiasm when schools, local choruses, and even resort fountains perform your works, with your equal enthusiasm about musicians getting fairly paid when their work is used. Are the schools paying the composer some performance fee? And, if the school pays little or nothing to perform the work, do you still have a way to collect the larger sum from the resort fountain or the movie soundtrack which wants to benefit from the excitement and beauty your music provides? How do you strike this balance?

christophertin8 karma

I don't think many professional musician worries themselves with whether schools or other education outlets are paying proper royalties... to be honest, we just want kids learning and performing music, period. If it's ours, then great. If it's any music at all, we'll take it. If it means that they do so without paying royalties, I'm all for it. I just want kids learning music!

NateTheGreat9874 karma

Do you listen to your own music a lot?

christophertin6 karma

All the time, LOL!

roastduckie4 karma

What is your favorite video game score, and whose work should we, as listeners, be paying more attention to? (video game or otherwise)

christophertin9 karma

Gotta put in a plug for my buddy Austin Wintory's "Journey" score! It got nominated for a Grammy a year or two after I did, but sadly lost to Trent Reznor.

rustysd4 karma

Hi Chris, My son's super interested in music and has played piano/keyboard for about 10 years. He wants to go to college for music and would love to break into video game music/composing. What would you recommend as a course of study and the way to work his way into the field? Much thanks!

christophertin4 karma

I think any course on music composition is a good foundation. I wouldn't worry too much about specific media-composing courses. I think worry about making yourself a good composer first, then learn to apply that to various media later on. And any good undergraduate composition course will teach you the fundamentals.

andasen3 karma

Looking at the Geography of Languages you utilized in Calling All Dawns and The Drop that Contained the Sea, there is a complete lack of indigenous languages/musical traditions of the Americas. Are you interested in tackling any of these?

christophertin8 karma

I did a lot of research into various Native American languages, and even did a ton of research into Yup'ik and other Eskimo/Aleut languages. The challenge is twofold: one, there's not a lot of pre-existing literature out there that makes for good lyrics, and that ties into the themes of my albums (so far). Two: there aren't a lot of well-known performers in those vocal traditions. But I did do my best on The Drop That Contained the Sea, even buying several books, reaching out to Yup'ik scholars, and even getting on the phone with the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

MichelleSaddic3 karma

Hi Christopher!

My name is Michelle, and I'm studying for my MA in Music for Visual Media at Pulse College in Dublin. I graduate in the fall, and then I have to decide where in the entire world to live - Yikes! I'm from Philadelphia, but I feel like it's the expectation to live in LA to get into the industry. But I also love the music culture in Europe.

In your experience, how much of a difference does the location of a composer's home-base make when trying to get into the industry? Do you have any suggestions?

christophertin6 karma

I studied in London at the RCM, and so I definitely get what you're talking about when you say music culture in Europe. But the media center is definitely LA for film and TV, and largely for games as well. I really do think it makes a huge difference. So much of the business is a social one. There are obviously outliers--people who live in NY, London, etc.--but the majority live and work in LA.

jonnythunder34833 karma

Hey Chris, thanks for doing the ama!

I'm a big fan of your work, especially Baba Yetu. I played that twice this year (on trumpet) at the high school level in two different "video game live suites", one with the wind ensemble and one with the student symphony.

I love your writing, and music has always been really important to me. For my "senior song" this year, I arranged a song I wrote on piano for a whole band score and I'll be conducting it in just a few weeks. That was the first time I've done that, and it was very difficult.

When you're composing something, how do you work with instrumentation? As you write, when you create a melody line or whatever else, do you have in mind what instruments you want to play it already? Or does that often change as the piece becomes more fleshed out?

Also, what's your favourite and least favourite instruments to use in compositions?

Thanks for your time!

christophertin6 karma

Yes, absolutely. When I write, I have a very clear sense of what instrument I want to write for. I've noticed this is a difference in philosophy between competing schools of music education, though: jazz vs. classical. My jazz friends often come up with the notes first, then assign them to instruments later. My classical friends have an idea of what instrument is playing the melodic line the moment it comes into their head.

Favorite instruments? French horns maybe?

jonnythunder34832 karma

Thanks so much for responding!

That's really interesting, though I guess that kind of makes sense given the styles of music.

As a trumpet player, I still have to agree with you on French horns haha

I'm in desperate need of a name for the piece I wrote that I'll be conducting soon. It's somewhat slow and pretty for the first half, then it becomes intense and heroic, then returns to the original melody but with more intensity. Any name suggestions? Haha it would be great to say that you gave me the name for my piece!

christophertin2 karma

I think titling is tough! Some composers really seem to nail it. John Adams for example. I love his titles. Others, for some other reason, just don't do much for me. But try to be creative! Think outside the box, and don't place too much emphasize on being wholly representative to the structure of the piece.

supurplayur3013 karma

How long does it take you to make an album from start to finish?

christophertin4 karma

Anywhere from 2-4 years. A lot of work goes into an album!

punchgiraffe2 karma

What do you think of Brentalfloss's parody? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL6wlTDPiPU

christophertin3 karma

I freakin' love it!

MichelleSaddic2 karma

What's your favorite Disney movie? :)

christophertin3 karma

Does Pixar count? If so, Finding Nemo or Wall-E.

auror_12 karma

Hey Christopher,

I was wondering if you have any music that didn't make it into your albums due to different reasons that you might be releasing as singles or as an "extra" album?

Keep up the awesome work.


christophertin4 karma

You know, I have this issue... I've always been hesitant to release music that I didn't think was top-notch, and so the idea of B-sides and stuff just makes me a little queasy. And then as you may have noticed, I tend to like releasing things in neatly unified packages, and not as singles. However, that said, I'm sitting on some stuff from old projects that I think is pretty solid, and am just waiting for the right moment to release it. And I'm gradually warming to the idea of releasing more individual tracks. So give me some time. :)

Achilles1184BC2 karma

Hey Christopher! I want to say thank you for making all the music you've created. I performed with you in NYC for both Dawn and Drop and they were both life changing experiences. You gave me a new level of love and appreciation for music as a whole.

My question is: have you ever felt burned out as a composer? What helps you get past those times?

christophertin4 karma

Hi! Are you a fellow composer? Sure, I get burned out. There's only so much you can push yourself, and every year or so when I hit a lull, my creativity sort of collapses for a bit. But usually the moment the next big project or deadline comes in, that's when you get back on the horse. And then you forget all about the fatigue and just get back to work.

(Also, there's nothing that cures burnout better than writing a great piece of music!) :)

PR0L0GUE2 karma

The symphonic choir at my school performed an arrangement of Baba Yetu last year and being able to be a part of that was awesome, it's such a fantastic song.

Onto the questions! 1) What language do you think sounds the best to listen to? In speech or in song, up to you. 2) What kind of music do you listen to in your free time? What's your favorite genre?

Thanks so much man! You're awesome!

christophertin3 karma

Great! That's wonderful! As to which languages I like to listen to, I'd say Portuguese is a beautiful language. I mean, I happen to love fado as you can probably tell by my albums, but on the bossa nova side listening to Astrud or Bebel Gilberto pretty much makes me go 'aaaaaah...'

LycheeBerri2 karma

Hello! I haven't listened to much of your music before, but now I'll definitely put it on my listen-to list. :P Sounds perfect for music to write to!

I'm curious, though - how do you decide to title your songs? Titles are, for some reason, really important for me when listening to a song, so I would be thrilled to read your inspiration/process! Thank you so much!

christophertin4 karma

For pieces where there are vocals, you want the title to reflect the lyrical content. But when instrumental, I think it's fun to get creative. Sometimes just coming up with something evocative is the way to go. Sometimes clever inside jokes. Sometimes mashups of musical terminology and the unexpected (a la 'Allegro for Hydroponic Systems').

morethanexist2 karma

Hey Chris! I'm actually a member of Angel City Chorale, and we are all very excited about this season and the upcoming tour!

Since you mention being a TV fan, what are some of your favorite TV soundtracks?

christophertin3 karma

I'm excited too! TV soundtracks? David Porter does great work on the Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul soundtracks. Really unique stuff. Jessica Jones has a great score by Sean Callory too.

V2Blast2 karma

What's your favorite TV show soundtrack? Movie? Game?

What's your favorite flavor of pie?

Who are you rooting for in the (hockey) playoffs, and who do you think will actually win?

Sorry for asking so many questions. I love your work! :)

christophertin3 karma

Most recently? Jessica Jones, Kung Fu Panda, and Offworld Trading Company (LOL).

Apricot pie wins hands down!

And hockey, I think I'm one of those rare Kings fans who actually likes the Sharks (I'm from the Bay Area), and I think they're looking pretty good to come out of the West. But then again the Caps have been dominant all year and they have Mr. Game 7, so even though they're down in their series, it's hard to count them out.

bureX2 karma

When are you gonna draw some song inspirations from various Balkan countries? :)

christophertin2 karma

Have you heard my song Temen Oblak, from The Drop That Contained the Sea? Performed with Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares. I'm really proud of that one. :) I also did some research on Dalmation songs in Croatia awhile back.

greenking20002 karma

Just wanted to say thank you for the great music :D First heard your music on the Yogscast Christmas civ games

Do you know of the Yogscast at all?

They're the reason I got i into civ5 and now I have 500 hours and about 2hours on civ4

christophertin2 karma

I sort of know about the Yogscast... and if they lured you into the Civ world, LOL... RIP your social life.

emmawatsonfan2 karma

Why do you write music?

christophertin3 karma

I think I'm pretty good at it, so might as well do something that I'm good at. ;)

cowgirl47882 karma

Are you coming out with a kickstarter for your next album (like it was mentioned at the Lincoln Center concert)?

christophertin3 karma

Yes I am! I'll be doing a Kickstarter this summer, with fun rewards like attending the Abbey Road recording sessions with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Thanks for asking!

MaltaNsee2 karma

Hello Mr. Tin ! Have you played Dota2? I think your particular sound would make an AMAZING sound pack!

christophertin3 karma

I haven't no, but I'll take your word for it. :)

Peat142 karma

Have you ever played the games you composed for? What did you think?

christophertin9 karma

All the time! Especially Civ, but Offworld is becoming a new favorite. Although I'm lucky in that I get personal tutorials on how to play Offworld by the game's designer. :)

blasianFMA2 karma

Will you/ do you have arrange/ have and arr for Baba Yetu for TTBB?

christophertin3 karma

It was arranged for TTBB a year or two ago, I believe. Go here: http://www.alfred.com/search/searchresults.aspx?q=baba%20yetu&type=All

MindlessMe132 karma

Having composed music for multiple sources, do you think it's harder to compose a video game soundtrack?

christophertin2 karma

Not really, no! I think writing for games is great and incredibly enjoyable actually, and I tend to love the people I work with at game companies.

ADDENDUM: writing for commercials sucks. That's the format I like writing for least.

punchgiraffe2 karma

Do you actually play civ in your free time? If so, how much?

christophertin3 karma

It's been awhile, but yes, I definitely do! I binge play. Once I start, I'll spend a few weeks at a time, as many free hours in the day that I have, etc. It's obsessive.

BeggiGoods2 karma

What do you think of civ 5's opening theme?

christophertin2 karma

I thought it worked very well!

rockymountainoysters1 karma

Calling All Dawns songs are connected to one another in movements, whereas Drop That Contained the Sea songs seem like they are conceived as singles. What sort of overall flow are you planning for your third "world languages" release?

christophertin3 karma

I think I might mix it up... connect some, disconnect others. I think I might also have more recurring pieces... interludes, that sort of thing. Thanks for asking! Good question!

tuckyd1 karma

Have you ever played any of the Civ games?

Also, who wrote the lyrics for Baba Yetu?/How did you decide on them?

christophertin3 karma

Yeah! Civ I, III and IV! The lyrics are a setting of the Lord's Prayer in Swahili, and they were chosen because it's historically very common to African choral music to have a Christian/gospel bent to it. (And my singers already knew the pronunciation of the text.)

Posat1 karma

Whhat do you think of Geoff Knorr and Michael Curran's Civ 5 compositions?

christophertin2 karma

They're great composers, both of them! I thought they did a great job.

Nekzar1 karma

Hi Christopher!

I'm a big fan of the entire Calling all Dawns album. And since I've played so much Civ, I especially love how Baba Yetu just perfectly encompasses the feel and scope of those games. For me it's not just the theme music for Civ4, but the soundtrack to the entire series and all that it stands for.

I also recently started playing Offworld Trading Company with my brother and we both love the game. I have to admit I didn't know you made the music, but upon learning that, I am not the least bit surprised. The music very quickly caught my attention and I can't help but to light up when I hear it. It's a very similar feeling I get when listening to Calling all Dawns. I don't get happy per se, but my mind feels, lighter? Like unburdened, but not because I empty my mind, I get more focused at the same time.

If I should describe your music with one word, it would be enlightening

Oh. I guess I haven't thought of a question. I'll give you two.

Q1: I haven't found a place to buy your albums yet, so far I've had to settle for youtube, but I would really like to support you! What's the best place to buy your albums in Europe? I live in Denmark, so the shipping is rather expensive from the link you provided in this post :(

Q2: Do you have an idea of what your next project will be? Or is there a particular kind of theme you have always wanted to "cover"?

I say theme because I have an idea that the specific kind of media or even story is less important for you, and it's more about making people feel it more.

christophertin2 karma

Hi! Thanks for writing! Aren't my albums available on iTunes in Denmark? They should be! And there's always my own website, where I get 95% of the proceeds, which is really great for supporting me. Unfortunately selling CDs abroad is really hard, though... mail order/import is the only way.

You're right in that an overall feeling is the most important thing for me with my music, but I still like to unify things with central themes. Tentatively, the third album will be themed around either birds, or flight.

Thanks for writing!

MichelleSaddic1 karma

You had some internships with some pretty big names. Is interning something you would suggest for composers who are early in their careers? If so, how do we get there? If not, do you have alternative advice?

christophertin2 karma

Yes, I'd say it's a great thing to do. I wouldn't try going after the big names like Remote Control and stuff, but perhaps reach out to others working in the business, like TV composers, video games, etc. Try reaching out at times other than the summer if possible. We're all flooded with internship inquiries during the summer months (I call mine 'Tinternships'). It's definitely a great way to get your foot in the door, though.

MichelleSaddic1 karma

"Tinternships." Love it. :)

What is the appropriate way of inquiring about an internship?

christophertin2 karma

Just email the composer! Most of us have contact info on our sites.

Corcorigan1 karma

Hello Chris, thanks for the AmA! Huge fan here, I wish you keep up the good (excellent) work you've been doing so far. Here's the question:

Do you think soundtracks are an integral part of the experience when playing a game/watching a movie/etc? Has there been any OST that have bettered/worsened the experience of any of these for you? Is there any soundtrack you like but don't like the movie/game/etc they're a part of?

Thank you!!

christophertin5 karma

Definitely an integral part of the experience, and absolutely essentially really. Hard to pick a favorite! They fall under two categories for me: soundtracks that really accentuate an experience without aiming to be standalone listening experiences, and soundtracks that are just great on their own (while adding in a not-as-subtle way to the experience). First category would be games like Red Dead Redemption, Last of Us, film scores by people like James Newton Howard. Second category would be games like Katamari Damacy, Journey (by my buddy Austin Wintory!), and scores by John Williams. Just a short list of course, but that's a good starting point.

Euchale1 karma

Are the songs sung by the same choir? And if yes, how did they practice pronunciation?

christophertin2 karma

On my albums? I work with choirs all around the world... Bulgarian, South African, Norwegian, British, and the Angel City Chorale right here in Los Angeles.

texture1 karma

Still talking with Mozez?

christophertin2 karma

Ooh, it's been awhile! But he's a great guy. I did a string chart on his album The Absolute awhile back.

KSFT__1 karma

I love Baba Yetu! I've been learning to play it on piano from this person's arrangement. Is there another (official) arrangement for piano?

christophertin3 karma

Yes! Alfred Publishing has released a number of versions, including a piano/vocal. Go here: http://www.alfred.com/search/searchresults.aspx?q=baba%20yetu&type=All

mccombi1 karma

Hi Christopher!

We were able to see / meet you a few years ago during the Video Games Live tour stop in Toronto. It was an amazing experience and a great pleasure. Any plans to do any more VGL dates in the future?


christophertin3 karma

At Massey Hall? That was a fun concert. The players and choir were exceptional. I do them from time to time, yes! Not sure I'll conduct an entire tour again, just because my schedule is so packed now.

fullmetalyeezus1 karma

Holy crap! Thank you Mr. Christopher Tin for doing this AMA. Last summer I did some choir accompaniment on piano for a summer music camp while being a camper at the same time and I got the chance to accompany the song "Baba Yetu!" Easily my favorite song from camp. Just loved the chord progressions. As a musician and young composer, do you have an advice on making soundtracks or theme music for tv shows or movies? In other words, how do you get inspiration or what helps to make the soundtrack/piece? Thanks a lot!

christophertin3 karma

You have to derive the inspiration directly from the game/film--you have to understand the story, the drama, etc. Get your inspiration from visual cues--the look of the shots, the pace of the editing. There's so much to work with when scoring something!

mrpulp1 karma

Have you ever actually played Civ? Was it part of your research in writing Baba Yetu?

christophertin3 karma

Waaaaaay too much. I already knew the game inside out when writing Baba Yetu!

mrpulp3 karma

So how do feel about not being added as a "Great Musician" in Civ V? I think it's deserved...

christophertin2 karma

Hah! I'd be so honored and amused if that happened. :)

foneafone1 karma

Did you change the date of the London Concert? I swear it was on the 28th cause last time I checked I wasn't able to make it but now I can :)

christophertin1 karma

No, it's always been July 19th! And yes, please come! Bring all your friends!

Dhelmet2561 karma

Hey Mr. Tin! Thank you for doing this. A friend of mine and I were analyzing your works just last night over pizza.

My question is about your process of writing and inspiration. As a composer for small ensembles, I have a process of writing that works for me, but I love to hear professionals' "morning routine", if you will. So, with that... what does your time spent composing look like? Do you have a specific room, habit, snack, etc.? Thanks in advance for your response!


christophertin3 karma

I try to write in the mornings, because that's when I'm most fresh. Caffeine helps a lot... I drink a lot of green tea, and when I really need a boost, an ice coffee. Cold drinks seem to help me more than hot drinks. I also seem to work best when I'm hungry, or when I don't eat a heavy meal (which is a shame, because I like eating).

JeromeLeroy_Composer1 karma

Tacos Por Favor or Tito's Tacos?

christophertin1 karma

Tacos Por Favor! Tito's shells are too thick, IMO.

linuxbo1 karma

Hey Chris! I'm not too sure if this is a compliment, but I adore listening to your music whenever I'm studying for a major exam.

What are your thoughts on the introduction of orchestral sampling in the music industry? Do you prefer composing and recording music using human beings or would you rather use sampling, especially for background music in the context of a video game?

christophertin2 karma

Live players all the way! Sampling technology has come a long ways and is capable of doing some great things, but nothing beats the real thing. It's 4x more effort working with live players, and way more expensive, but it's worth it every time, and I wouldn't dream of releasing an album with just samples. (Offworld Trading Company is a mix of samples, synths, and live strings and brass.)

amidwx1 karma

I follow you on Facebook and I just wanted to say out of everyone that I get on my feed, your posts are the only ones that are consistently interesting and wonderful. I am always struck by your humility even in the face of success. What helps keep you grounded?

christophertin2 karma

Really? Thanks! I have a wife who punches me hard on the shoulder if my ego ever gets too big. ;)

cowgirl47881 karma

I'm sure you've played OTC a hundred or so times by now, so do you have any inside tips for us?

christophertin3 karma

Oh boy, it's a tough game, but you have to let go of the idea that once you claim a tile and build a structure on it, that structure stays through the game. In fact, what you want to do is think of your claimed hexes as fluid, and constantly be destroying and rebuilding new buildings depending on what's profitable on the stock market.

kersonn1 karma

Hi Christopher. Just wanted to say I love your music. I have your albums at home and I just love listening to them.

Theyre still really really hard to get anywhere in Europe though, except from your website, ofc. (dat shipping+import tax :'( ) Still definitely worth it, but do you think that will ever change?

I only found out that you made the soundtrack for Offworld last week through the email you sent out. Definitely what made me reinstall the game. (have had it since early access began)

Looking forward to more and more music from you.

christophertin3 karma

Yeah, the European distribution thing for CDs is a tough one... the only practical way to do it is by mail order/imports, and the postage for that is hideous. (I actually charge less than it costs me to ship, believe it or not.) (Also, I don't know what import taxes are like, but I imagine they're a pain as well.)

I wish I had better news, but thanks for being a fan and buying the CDs!

kersonn3 karma

Import starts kicking in at 24€ (includes shipping) and costs 19%. More annoying is that they make you drive down to the tariffs office and pay for it there.

Still, thank you for the amazing music. Always looking forward to new songs of yours.

christophertin2 karma

Oh man, I didn't know that. Ugh.

evbombhumphrey1 karma

Mr. Tin! You're song Baba Yetu is literally the most inspirational song of all-time! I can't imagine Civ IV without it! Since none of your compositions made an appearance in Civ V will any of your music be in Civ VI??? Also are you a cake or a pie person?

christophertin1 karma

Pie. We even had 'wedding pie' at our wedding!

And as for Civ VI, even if I was involved, I wouldn't be allowed to say it. :)

MichelleSaddic1 karma

What/who are some of your favorite classical pieces and composers?

christophertin3 karma

Mahler: Symphony #5, Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet, Copland Symphony #3, Brahms Piano Concerto in D, Stravinsky Firebird, Ravel Piano Concerto, Prokofiev Piano Concerto #3, Saint-Saens Organ Symphony, Copland Appalachian Spring, Debussy La Mer... just to name a few.

invitroveritas1 karma

Hello Christopher! I just checked out your tour dates and noted that you only tour the US and the UK. Are there any plans for other locations, especially in Europe? I'd love to see your show, but I can't afford a flight to the UK just for that.

christophertin2 karma

Not anytime soon, I'm afraid. The logistics of doing a tour for me are very tricky, and this is all I could pull off this time around. Sorry!

Magnesium381 karma


I loved Calling All Dawns and very early on purchased the Study Score to understand the music more. When you released The Drop That Contained The Sea, I eagerly awaited a similar study score to be released. I haven't seen any information about a study score being released. So I'm wondering, is a study score for the A Drop That Contained The Sea ever going to be released?

christophertin3 karma

Yes, it's definitely the plan, although it just takes time to prepare a study score and I have a really full plate of new music to be writing. But I'm getting more assistants soon to help with things like this. If you're on my mailing list, I'll send out a news blast when it's ready (hopefully by the end of the year). Thanks for getting the CAD study score!

TakeawayIsNiceM80 karma

BABA YETU YETU ULIYE on topic now do you like pancakes?

christophertin1 karma

Blueberries, strawberries, and a touch of syrup.