After approximately 14 attempts at our game's theme music, I was finally able to find the sound it needed to be, and it got me pumped enough to shout "Eureka!" (in my head). If I were working at my home studio I would have just shouted. Not surprisingly, the breakthrough had to do with our design needing to be more fleshed out.
Identifying with an existing and trending market was suggested to us by our stakeholders, so we steered our existing nature narrative toward the issue of deforestation. This allowed us to give more specific intention to our level design, character backgrounds, and plot. Much to my delight, this also made one of my theme song concepts immediately more fitting; it was already taking on an impression of going from beautiful to not so beautiful (much like the impact of deforestation on our environment and living conditions). So, I reworked the music more intentionally with that in mind, and voila; it finally sounded right! It was no longer a somewhat aimless exploration of instrumentation. I now knew the theme song; what it needed and what it didn't need. The fitting possibilities were flowing.
Another aspect I was wanting to implement was now more easy to envision; audible impressions of the main characters. I wanted something to mimic characteristics of our bear and young girl; now I know what those can be, and having begun their implementations already is sounding very promising.
I'm excited to finish and refine it in the coming week, such that it truly becomes the custom music identifier of everything our game is.
The following screenshot shows the original theme song on the left half of the center window, and the reworked version on the right half. I shared the same instruments and most of the same patterns to ensure I wouldn't lose the uniqueness of the original, and then I dropped or changed what wasn't catering to the new focus. Once that was done, I was able to add newer elements that really enhanced the core concept that was finally sounding right. The song is called "Intrusion".