Neil Brennan joined Beam Software in 1983, as a sound designer and composer. He confesses that he was not a gamer, but he knew some people who were working at Beam Software, who suggested that he should apply. For his interview, Brennan wrote some music on a synthesiser for Alfred Milgrom, and got the job.. At about the same time that he started working at Beam he was inspired by reading “Gödel Escher and Bach”to begin studying Computer Science at Melbourne University, graduating from Melbourne University in 1987. university in 1987.
At Beam, Brennan composed music for games often working closely with Alfred Milgrom. Most conversations on the music for Beam’s games started with Milgrom who Brennan recalls was knowledgeable about music, classical in particular. Brennan recounts how Milgrom, with his eye on copyright issue, was keen on Brennan exploring classical music out of copyright. Whilst he took this on-board Brennan was generally more comfortable writing his own themes. As the producer, Milgrom also had strong ideas about what he wanted for Beam games, and Brennan was directed at different times to study circus music or to watch Fellini films, to capture the sound and atmosphere that Milgrom was striving for.
Brennan also worked with designer and programmer, Gregg Barnett to create music modules for the games, using a music language created by Barnett. Brennan worked in assembly language coding for the games music. The modules he created executed themes and sounds in the games, working to maximise what was possible with the limited processing power. The limited sound possibilities of the early micro computers were a constant challenge. Brennan recall how the SID chips in each Commodore 64 were slightly different so drum sounds were never the same from machine to machine, to address this he would test his compositions on about five different machines and work for a nice average. That said he found the the Commodore 64’s beepertron a delight to work with compared to the ZX Spectrum’s clickertron.
Brennan was responsible for the sound in all Beam games, from his arrival in 1983 till his departure in 1988.
Brennan was also an active contributor to the vibrant Melbourne music scene, where he played in various bands, including Macguffins, Stick Figures, Redfish Bluefish and Linoleum, during the late 1980’s, 1990’s and early 2000’s.