Halo 3 Original Soundtrack

Halo 3 Original Soundtrack

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For the final game in the "Halo" trilogy, O'Donnell added new themes as well as bringing back and expanding old ones, some of which had never been recorded with a full orchestra before. The score made extensive use of the piano, an instrument which O'Donnell used extensively for composition but which had not been featured in previous "Halo" music. In addition to scoring the game, the music was used for promotional advertisements and trailers preceding "Halo 3"'s release.

Upon release, the soundtrack was generally well-received. The score reached the "Billboard" 200 chart,cite web|url=http://wm05.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:j9frxzrhldje~T3|title="Halo 3" Original Soundtrack Billboard|publisher=Allmusic|accessdate=2007-12-10] and also broke the top twenty best-selling soundtracks and independent albums listings. The score was nominated for X-Play's "Best of 2007" awards, under best original soundtrack.

Background

The score for "Halo 3" gave O'Donnell and Salvatori a chance to rework and revise existing themes heard in the games, as well as create new ones.cite video |people= O’Connor, Frank; O'Donnell, Martin; Smith, Luke|date2=2007-12-12 |title=Official Bungie Podcast: With Martin O'Donnell |url= http://download.microsoft.com/download/d/8/5/d85ce76f-0cb2-41df-aaae-a8c96790332b/Bungie_Podcast_121207.mp3|format=MP3 |medium= |publisher=Bungie |location=Washington |accessdate=2008-02-28 |time= |quote= ] "Halo: Combat Evolved" featured more strings, while the soundtrack to "Halo 2" featured more conventional video game music staples such as guitars by Steve Vai; in an interview, O'Donnell noted that "to be honest, when I got to the end of "Halo 2" I thought to myself: 'that was probably enough guitar.'"cite web|author=Parkin, Simon|date=2007-11-08|url=http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=87126|title=Halo 3: Music to Watch Armageddon By|publisher=Eurogamer|accessdate=2008-04-11] He intentionally made the score to the final game a shift back to the orchestral roots of the series, stating "I took an orthodox, almost formal approach to the trilogy." O'Donnell acknowledged that some games and movies used entirely different music with each sequel, but such an approach wasn't an option with "Halo 3", the third installment of a trilogy: "The Master Chief is still green, Cortana is still blue, and so you're going to hear the monks and the cellos."

O'Donnell began by writing out the reworked themes and music he wanted to hear in the game, without knowing where he would eventually use the sounds. He approaches composition from the piano, and described his process as looking for something that "makes me go 'oh, "that's" a good feeling'".cite video|people=O'Donnell, Martin &c|year=2007|title=Behind the Audio|format=Flash|publisher=Microsoft, Bungie|location=Washington] O'Donnell's approach to writing music for games is to put in the audio at the last minute of development, so that his music meshes with the game play in the best possible way;cite web|url=http://www.ukmusic.com/features/interviews/martin-o-donnell-interview.html|title=Martin O Donnell Interview|date=2007-09-22|author=Bandah, Sam|publisher=UKMusic.com|accessdate=2008-02-21] he still had not added in the score when "Halo 3" was demoed at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2007, [cite web|author=Ocampo, Jason|date=2007-07-11|url=http://e3.gamespot.com/story.html?sid=6174324&pid=926632&%2525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252Bamp%252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525253Btag=topslot%3Btitle%3B1&cpage=29|title=E3 '07: Halo 3 Updated Impressions - Single-Player Campaign|publisher=Gamespot|accessdate=2008-01-02] less than three months away from the game's debut. Scoring for a video game, O'Donnell noted, is different from a film in that a good score sounds like it is narrating what the player does on screen; "Halo 3" uses a audio engine which allows music cues to naturally start, stop, and transition in response to game triggers.

Unlike previous soundtracks, where much of the music had been synthesized on computer, the soundtrack for "Halo 3" was recorded using a 60-piece orchestra, along with a 24 voice chorus.cite album-notes |authorlink=Martin O'Donnell |last=O'Donnell |first=Martin |notestitle=Introduction |year=2007 |title=Halo 3 Original Soundtrack |publisher=Sumthing] The music was recorded by the Northwest Sinfonia at Studio X in Seattle, Washington.cite web|author=Staff|date=2007-09-20|url=http://www.music4games.net/Features_Display.aspx?id=172|title=Interview with Halo 3 Composer Marty O'Donnell|publisher=Music4Games|accessdate=2008-04-13]

The tracks are presented, similarly to the ,cite album-notes |authorlink=Martin O'Donnell |last=O'Donnell |first=Martin |notestitle=Introduction |year=2006 |title=Halo 2 Original Soundtrack: Volume Two |publisher=Sumthing] in a suite form. The suites are named after the nine Campaign missions and unlike "Volume Two", are broken into separate tracks.cite video |people=Gossett, Chris; Jarrard, Brian; O'Conner, Frank; O'Donnell, Martin; Smith, Luke; Staten, Joseph |date2=2007-09-20 |title=The Bungie Podcast: 09/20/07 |url=http://download.microsoft.com/download/d/8/5/d85ce76f-0cb2-41df-aaae-a8c96790332b/Bungie_Podcast_092007.mp3 |format=MP3 |medium= |publisher=Bungie|location= Washington|accessdate=2008-04-09] Since the interactive mixing of sounds in "Halo 3" depends of what occurs in the game, O'Donnell instead "froze" the music into set suites and transitions for the CD, so that a listener playing the soundtrack through would hear a musical representation of the game. Interviewed by some of Bungie's staff for the Bungie Podcast, O'Donnell noted that there was more "techno" and "tribal" sounds than on previous soundtracks. O'Donnell also tried to avoid outside musical influences, as he believes that "Bungie should be creating culture, not being influenced by it."

Promotion

Martin O'Donnell first confirmed "Halo 3"'s soundtrack would see a commercial release in a Bungie Podcast. [cite web|author=Martin, Joseph|date=2007-07-19|url=http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2007/07/16/halo_3_soundtrack_confirmed_by_bungie/1|title=Halo 3 soundtrack confirmed by Bungie|publisher=Bit-tech|accessdate=2008-04-13] O'Donnell also stressed that the soundtrack would not be released at or near the release date of the game on September 25, 2007. The soundtrack was officially announced on October 17, 2007.cite web|author=Microsoft|date=2007-10-17|url=http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/h/halo3/news/20071017-soundtrack.htm|title=Halo 3 Original Soundtrack Announced|publisher=Xbox.com|accessdate=2008-04-10]

Music Sample:

The piece used for the E3 2006 "Halo 3" announcement trailer, featuring piano and brass sections.
The score to the game was used extensively for marketing purposes, even before the release of the game. The first piece heard was entitled "Finish the Fight", and was used in the announcement trailer for "Halo 3" at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2006.cite web|author=Sanders, Kathleen|date=2006-05-09|url=http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/706/706251p1.html|title=E3 2006: Halo 3 Trailer Impressions|publisher=IGN|accessdate=2008-04-11] This piece was accented with O'Donnell's well-known "Halo" theme, which now included a trumpet fanfare and heavy brass section; O'Donnell stated "I want the viewer to have a feeling of anticipation and wonder for the first fifty seconds or so, up until Master Chief is revealed and they realize that it's Cortana trying to tell them something."cite web|author=Achronos|date=2006-05-09|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&link=Halo3Announcement|title=Halo 3 Announced|publisher=Bungie.net|accessdate=2008-04-05] The track opens with a piano, uncharacteristic for the series at that point; O'Donnell suspected "no [other announcement at E3] would start with a piano", thus grabbing attention.cite video |people=Bertrand, Jason; O'Donnell, Martin |date2= 2006-06-09 |title= Halo 3 Marty O'Donnell Interview|url= http://gamevideos.com/video/id/4114|format=Flash |medium= |publisher=GameVideos |location= |accessdate=2008-02-28 |time= |quote= ] O'Donnell designed the opening to lull the listener into a sense of suspense, then wonder; "I want them to feel pride and longing the moment Master Chief walks out of the smoke." O'Donnell stated. "I want them to be left with that, 'I can hardly wait to play this game' feeling". Another reworked theme from "Halo" was used as the background music for the "Halo 3" E3 2007 trailer; O'Donnell later offered this track for free online. [cite web|author=Smith, Luke|date=2007-07-11|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=news&cid=12651|title=Download the Music from the E3 Trailer|publisher=Bungie.net|accessdate=2008-03-09]

In addition to the music composed by O'Donnell and Salvatori, the announcement of the Halo 3 Soundtrack was followed with a call for entries to all artists or bands to submit their own original sound to be included on the final CD. The submissions were judged by O'Donnell, producer Nile Rodgers, and other artists including Steve Vai. The winner was Greg Haupt and his band Princeton, whose song "LvUrFR3NZ" was the final track on the second disc.

Reception

Reception to the soundtrack was positive. Scorenotes.com gave the soundtrack high marks, praising the presentation as well as the piano motif introduced;cite web|url=http://scorenotes.com/soundtracks/halo3.html|title=Halo 3 Original Soundtrack Review|publisher=scorenotes.com|publisher=ASCAP|year=2007|author=Staff|accessdate=2007-12-10] the reviewer judged that the soundtrack for the third game surpassed those of the previous titles. UGO Networks praised the reworked main theme, stating that the video game "would not have been the same" without O'Donnell's score. [cite web|url=http://www.ugo.com/music/video-game-music/?cur=halo|title=The Best Video Game Music of All Time|author=Rosenberg, Adam|date=2008-01-15|publisher=UGO|accessdate=2008-01-15] "Game Informer" concurred, saying that "there’s nothing like hearing Halo’s signature 'da-da-da-duuum' as you rush into a squad of Brutes."cite web|url=http://www.gameinformer.com/Games/Review/200710/R07.0923.1932.21255.htm|title=Game Informer: Halo 3|author=Vore, Bryan|date=2007-10-01|accessdate=2007-10-03|work=Game Informer] Conversely, IGN found the piano theme was perennially overplayed, and felt that the soundtrack "begins with a bit of a bang and then eventually sputters out".cite web|url=http://music.ign.com/articles/838/838790p2.html|title=Halo 3 Original Soundtrack Review|publisher=IGN|date=2007-11-30|author=D., Spence|accessdate=2007-12-10] The "Halo 3 Soundtrack" reached a peak position of #18 on Billboard's Top Soundtracks list,cite web|url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/esearch/chart_display.jsp?cfi=337&cfgn=Albums&cfn=Top+Soundtracks&ci=3090483&cdi=9624098&cid=01%2F12%2F2008|title= Hot 100 - Billboard 200 - Music Genre Sales: Top Soundtracks|work=Billboard|accessdate=2008-02-01] and #20 on Top Independent Albums.cite web|url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/esearch/chart_display.jsp?cfi=326&cfgn=Albums&cfn=Top+Independent+Albums&ci=3091084&cdi=9652613&cid=02%2F02%2F2008|title= Hot 100 - Billboard 200 - Music Genre Sales: Top Independent Albums|work=Billboard|accessdate=2008-02-09]

"Halo 3"'s music has been featured at several concerts, including Play! A Video Game Symphony. [cite web|author=Napolitano, Jason|date=2008-01-03|url=http://www.music4games.net/News_Display.aspx?id=803|title=Play! To Feature Exclusive Halo Arrangement|publisher=Music4Games|accessdate=2008-03-02] O'Donnell also specially arranged the "Halo" music for a performance of Video Games Live, and appeared at a London performance. [cite web|author=Games Press|url=http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid=29762|title=London Show To Premiere All New Video Game Scores, And A Rare Chance To Meet The Makers|date=2007-10-18|publisher=GamesIndustry.biz|accessdate=2008-01-30] Video Games Live has incorporated the music from "Halo 3" into many of its performances, including the opening to the London Games Festival,cite web|author=Arendt, Susan|date=2007-08-28|url=http://blog.wired.com/games/2007/08/halo-3-arrangem.html|title=Halo 3 Arrangement Highlights London Performance of Video Games Live|work=Wired|accessdate=2008-04-16] and the 2008 Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco. [cite web|author=Press release|date=2008-02-20|url=http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/newsArt.cfm?artid=15371|title=Video Games Live GDC Performance|publisher=Nintendo World Report|accessdate=2008-04-05]

Awards

The audio and sound for "Halo 3" were nominated for numerous awards, including the 2007 Spike TV Video Game Awards "Best Original Score". [cite web|author=Dormer, Dan|date=2007-11-09|url=http://www.joystiq.com/2007/11/09/nominees-for-spike-tvs-video-game-awards-2007-revealed/|title=Nominees for Spike TV's Video Game Awards 2007 Revealed|publisher=Joystiq|accessdate=2008-04-01] Both the sound and score of "Halo 3" were also nominated as finalists in the 6th Annual Game Audio Network Guild Awards, [cite web|author=Staff|date=2008-02-06|url=http://music.ign.com/articles/850/850152p1.html|title=G.A.N.G. Awards Finalists Announced|publisher=IGN|accessdate=2008-04-16] and X-Play's "Best of 2007" Awards in the "Best Original Soundtrack" category. [cite web|author=Wilson, Mark|date=2007-12-05|url=http://kotaku.com/gaming/and-the-nominees-are/x+play-best-of-2007-awards-nominees-330373.php|title="X-Play Best of 2007 Awards" Nominees|publisher=Kotaku|accessdate=2008-04-16]

Track listing

Disc one

# "Arrival"

  1. "Luck" small|(3:24)

# "Sierra 117"
  1. "Released" small|(5:20)
  2. "Infiltrate" small|(3:49)

# "Crow's Nest"
  1. "Honorable Intentions" small|(2:46)
  2. "Last of the Brave" small|(3:57)
  3. "Brutes" small|(5:07)

# "Tsavo Highway"
  1. "Out of Shadow" small|(4:37)
  2. "To Kill a Demon" small|(3:44)

# "The Storm"
  1. "This Is Our Land" small|(4:00)
  2. "This Is the Hour" small|(2:08)

# "Floodgate"
  1. "Dread Intrusion" small|(5:25)
  2. "Follow Our Brothers" small|(3:25)

# "The Ark"
  1. "Farthest Outpost" small|(5:14)
  2. "Behold a Pale Horse" small|(5:38)
  3. "Edge Closer" small|(3:03)

Disc two

# "The Covenant"

  1. "Three Gates" small|(4:34)
  2. "Black Tower" small|(6:03)
  3. "One Final Effort" small|(3:08)
  4. "Gravemind" small|(5:21)

# "Cortana"
  1. "No More Dead Heroes" small|(5:01)
  2. "Keep What You Steal" small|(2:35)

# "Halo"
  1. "Halo Reborn" small|(3:59)
  2. "Greatest Journey" small|(4:52)

# "Ending"
  1. "Tribute" small|(2:52)
  2. "Roll Call" small|(5:58)
  3. "Wake Me When You Need Me" small|(2:19)
  4. "Legend" small|(0:40)

# "Bonus Tracks"
  1. "Choose Wisely" small|(1:18)
  2. "Movement" small|(0:27)
  3. "Never Forget" small|(3:07)
  4. "Finish the Fight" small|(2:27)
  5. "LvUrFR3NZ" performed by Princeton small|(2:18)

Personnel

All information is taken from the CD credits.cite album-notes |notestitle=Soundtrack credits |year=2007 |title=Halo 3 Original Soundtrack|publisher=Sumthing Distribution]
* Martin O'Donnell (ASCAP) – composer
* Michael Salvatori (ASCAP) – composer
* C Paul Johnson (ASCAP) – addition composition on tracks "To Kill a Demon", "This Is Our Land", "Keep What you Steal", and "Greatest Journey"
* Simon James – concert master/contractor
* David Sabee – Northwest Sinfonia conductor
* Joe Crnko – choir conductor
* Stan LePard – additional orchestration
* Nile Rodgersproducer

References

External links

* [http://www.halo3ost.com/ Official site]


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