"The Amazing Maryam"


Page 1. Panel 1. 1980s style game box design labeled "The Amazing Maryam. The World On A String." The picture is of a girl in a hijab leaping through the air. Text reads, "There was a time when videogame music wasn't much more than glorified sound effects. Panel 2 and 3. Drawings, mimicking game footage, the first being Maryam standing still and the second being her leaping in the air. The first is accompanied by a timeline of four instruments. The second is accompanied by the same, though the timeline of the first instrument is interrupted partway through with a sound effect. Text reads, "When compositions began to appear, sound designers were guided by hardware limitations. Frequently, they had to make the most of a few simultaneous tones. Triggering a sound effect would cause an instrument in the composition to temporarily drop."

Page 2. Panel 1. Two versions of the same timeline are presented: one with a sound effect interrupting the bass instrument, which is labeled incorrect, and one where the sound effect interrupts the treble instrument, which is labeled correct. Text reads, "The sound supervisor would determine this strategically. Which parts could drop and which could not to maintain the integrity of the composition?" Panel 2. Another screenshot style drawing. This time, Maryam leaps through the air, smashes a brick, and throws a fireball. The accompanying timeline of four instruments shows three of them overtaken by the jump, smash, and shoot sound effects, with only the bass instrument untouched. Text reads, "Sometimes, multiple sound effects would trigger at once, reducing the music to a skeleton of itself. An effect that was not entirely negative." Panel 3. Two more contrasting timelines, one with six instruments including two for sound effects, the other with the usual four instruments, two of which are interrupted by sound effects. The former is labeled incorrect, the latter correct. Text reads, "The benefit of this was that the overall tapestry of sounds never became cluttered or busy."

Page 3. Panel 1. Another image and accompanying timeline. This time, an overhead view of a four piece rock band on a stage. The timeline is made up of first guitar, second guitar, percussion, and bass. Text reads, "Real life musical ensembles have to think about this stuff, too." Panel 2. The timeline again. The first guitar part is interrupted, not by a sound effect, but by a solo. Text reads, "When assigning parts, they must consider which parts can temporarily be dropped if someone takes a solo or a harmony." Panel 3. Overhead view of the band again, but with a lot more musicians. Text reads, "And the number of parts they can add before the sound becomes cluttered."

Page 4. Panels 1 and 2. All text, which reads, "Think about which elements should be up front, and which are fundamental or expendable. What other lessons can old school videogames teach us?" Panel 3. MacCormac and the real life Maryam are playing videogames on the couch. MacCormac, in her pajamas, leans forward intensely. She says, "Guh! Why isn't my controller reacting fast enough?" Maryam, relaxed and reclined, says, "Be patient or you won't get any better." Another new character, Hugh Mann, is also in his pajamas: a nightgown and old timey sleeping cap. He says, "Ook ook."

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