Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jeremy Soule - Overture to Skyrim

Image via Wikipedia
For those of you who aren't blessed with teenage boys, Skyrim isn't an opera, it's a best selling fantasy computer game.  And this music isn't the overture (the traditional opening musical piece to an opera), it's the "Skyrim theme".

Whatever.  Skyrim is an interactive opera with you as the main character, set in a barbarian mythos worthy of Wagner.  This is the overture.

In a comment to last week's Prokofiev post, reader Dave H pointed out the really excellent classic music being composed for games these days.  He's quite right.  Video games have passed Hollywood in sales; the Call Of Duty franchise of games has a much higher gross than the Star Wars franchise of motion pictures.  These are big budget products, with serious actors for the voice parts (Skyrim has Christopher Plummer) and music budgets to attract serious classical talent.

And since we're happy lacking in a landed aristocracy that would commission the talent of the day to produce music to glory their name, we at least have a market that supports quite interesting - if commercial - new classical music.  In fact, the commercial appeal is what makes the music accessible: since it's not funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, it has to appeal to a public much broader than the SWPL types who sit on NEA Grant Committees.

And so you get a barbarian overture hinting of Gorecki or Carl Orff, with a strong flavor of a rougher Wagner or Mahler.  Is this great music?  Beats me - I'm no music critic, nor am I a music historian (although I play one on my blog).  But this is listened to my literally hundreds of thousands of people who otherwise might be putting some rap on their iPod.

Time will tell Jeremy Soule's place (if any) in the pantheon of classical music greats, but Dave H is absolutely correct.  Classical music is alive and well.  You can pick it up at Game Stop.


bluesun said...

Kinda planning on picking it up when it comes out in a "Game of the Year" edition.

Dave H said...

Aw, thanks for the nod boss.

Lest anyone think Skyrim is just about Vikings hacking and pillaging their way across the land, here's another piece called Ancient Stones. It's one of my favorites in the game.

(The game's setting and mythology is lifted right out of Norse tradition, as is some of Wagner's work. In Skyrim the majority race are even called Nords.)

Shortly after we got the game I went looking for the soundtrack. Jeremy Soule is selling the 4-disk set directly. Back when I ordered mine, he was autographing them too. I think he'll be a composer to watch, like Martin O'Donnell from the Halo franchise.

CoolChange©© said...

I definitely hear Wagner in this. And it does answer the question as to whether anyone is still creating classical music.

Ken said...

It's nae Sibelius, but it ain't bad. :-)

Maddmedic said...

Well being an ex gamer for the most part...many many way to many hours spent playing Starcraft:Broodwars, Diablo II, Guildwars, and Dawn of War...I passed that addiction down to my eldest boy.
He plays Skyrim, a lot, all the time, until his computer puked on him the other day and he has not figured out the problem yet.

I've watched a bit of it as he played it...Looks like fun..I'll have to share this with him..