Michael Land was born in the North Shore area north of Boston, Massachusetts. His parents enrolled him in classical piano lessons when he was five, and he continued in these until he chose to pursue the bass guitar instead at age twelve. He focused more on improvisation, and he played with several bands throughout high school.
In 1979, Land enrolled in the music program at Harvard University, where he concentrated on electronic music. He also rekindled his interest in classical music, particularly that of Ludwig van Beethoven. After graduation, he entered Mills College in Oakland, California to further study electronic music. He broadened his study to Renaissance polyphony, and he also studied computer programming.
When Land graduated from Mills in 1987, he took a job as a digital technician at an audio signal processor manufacturer called Lexicon, Inc. Land worked for the company for three years, a period he spent honing his programming skills and writing operating system software for the company's MIDI remote controllers.
By 1990, the home video game market was beginning to blossom, particularly for personal computers. In April of that year, Land obtained a job at the fledgeling Lucasfilm Games (today known as LucasArts), a software company owned by Star Wars creator George Lucas. Land became the company's audio programmer and musician. Land's first project with LucasArts was The Secret of Monkey Island. The soundtrack of the game gave the composer a chance to show his flexibility, as it is almost entirely made up of Caribbean-flavored themes, something different from anything Land had composed before. His music from Monkey Island has been performed live by a full orchestra at the Symphonic Game Music Concert in 2004. The event took place in Leipzig, Germany.
The sound engine used in Monkey Island bothered Land, however. He found it nearly impossible to synchronize music with action in the game. Land began work on LucasArts' iMUSE interactive music system to solve this problem. The project was more daunting than Land had anticipated, so he brought in his friend, Peter McConnell, to help. The two designed the iMUSE system as an advanced MIDI sequencer, but over the years, it has come to be, as Land describes it, "a methodology" that allows game producers greater control over in-game music, transitions, etc. Land also headed the company sound department, and since he was preoccupied with iMUSE, he hired another friend to the company, Clint Bajakian, to take over some composing projects.
With iMUSE completed, Land returned to work as composer. He worked on several titles, including more Monkey Island games and various projects based on Lucasfilm properties.
Land continues to widen his repertoire, and he is currently studying classical cello and violin. He plans to release an album of music he has written outside of LucasArts sometime in the future.
Michael Land is currently working on the new installment of the Monkey Island series Tales of Monkey Island.
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