Posts Tagged ‘Warcraft’

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Warcraft: Orcs & Humans – “Track 2” (Glenn Stafford, et al)

July 8, 2010

WarCraft: Orcs & Humans (1994) was a game that defined the RTS. Though predated by other games such as Dune II (1992), WarCraft took the formula of build-gather-fight and polished it in a rich fantasy universe that’s still alive and strong today (in fact, I liked the story to WarCraft II so much, I read the extensive narratives in th manual more than once!). Well, here’s where it all started.

WarCraft: Orcs & Humans – “Track 2” (Glenn Stafford, et al)

This track from WarCraft illustrates themes and styles that would be repeated in later WarCraft and StarCraft games. The music is defined by a long, dynamic track that covers a wide range of emotions, being able to match not only the art of war, but also building and gathering resources. “Track 2” (for want of a better name…) is a slow, dark medieval military march, with a strong melody on brass and punctuated by strings and flutes (1:12). The building tension adds drama and the exotic instrument set (including harpischord at 2:33) sets the soundtrack in a fantasy realm beyond time.

I actually don’t know what the real title of this song is, so if anyone knows, please tell me! This is a rather low-quality rip of the game’s midi score, but the songs are complete – as far as anyone knows, the soundtrack was never released. However, Blizzard later created a joke track, that disco ‘hit’, “I’m a Medieval Man.” The piece mixes voice clips from WarCraft II command responses for some head-shaking nonsense. Blizzard has such a nice sense of humor for fans.

The music and sound was composed by a large team: Gregory AlperRick Jackson (Fallout 2, Baldur’s Gate), Chris Palmer, and Glenn Stafford. Stafford later went on to produce soundtracks for the rest of the WarCraft series as well as World of WarCraft. He also composed the forgotten Blizzard classics Lost Vikings and Blackthorne.

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WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos – “Lordaeron Fall” (Glenn Stafford)

February 22, 2010

While “Lordaeron Fall” is not the best Humans track on WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002; I think this title goes to “Blackrock & Roll”), the piece contains a special standing for me as it is a remix of the “Humans 2” track from WarCraft II (1996), probably the most recognizable theme from that game. Whereas in WarCraft II the theme represents an kingdom growing to the height of its power to ruthlessly repel an invader, the theme is reprised in “Lordaeron Fall” after Prince Arthas returns to the kingdom and, cursed by the sword Frostmourne, slays the king and pillages the city, leaving it in ruins. It is important to note that Glenn Stafford composed both the original version of this theme and its remix.

WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos – “Lordaeron Fall” (Glenn Stafford)

“Lordaeron Fall” begins with a low blare of trumpets that begin playing the opening notes of the Humans theme from WarCraft II. 30 seconds in, the main melody begins with “Humans 2” played low on the clarinet, supported by strings and trumpets, building to a height with trumpets at 0:55. However, the notes never resolve into the main theme and instead die down at 1:10-1:30 into a dirge where the kingdom in ruins is surveyed. The theme is reprised again at 2:40 in minor key with strings, ending with the low tolling of bells at 3:40.

The theme first plays as the survivors fight their way out of the burning city that is now filled with the undead, and in subsequent missions thereof. If “Humans 2” is an army at the height of its power, then “Lordaeron Fall” is a kingdom that has suffered a grave defeat and fall from glory. Recovering from its wounds, its soldiers march onward to regain honor and security. “Lordaeron Fall” thus probably gains more of its impact through its history and references to the original track than as a standalone piece; I think I enjoy it more for its familiarity.

The WarCraft III soundtrack came packaged with the collector’s edition. Being a huge WarCraft fan at the time, I picked up that version, and so have a copy of the album (I was fairly disappointed with the game though). However, the soundtrack is available on iTunes for $9.99, which isn’t bad as there are a few good tracks here. In Europe, a special two-disc album was created with music ‘inspired by’ the game.

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Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos – “Arcane Echoes” (Derek Duke)

February 13, 2010

I remember intensely waiting for Warcraft III to be released. This game had been in development for something like four years, and having LOVED the second game, the third was bound to be a glorious continuation of the story. Of course, the game did not perform so well and now Warcraft is better known as an MMORPG, but you cannot forget its RTS roots. Anyway, I got the Special Edition version of the game, which came with all kinds of neat crap, including this soundtrack CD. The first track on the album, “Arcane Echoes” is one of my favorite pieces (my MOST favorite being “Lordaeron Fall” which we should be hearing in the future) and it sets the tone of both the game and album nicely.

WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos – “Arcane Echoes” (Derek Duke)

“Arcane Echoes” uses wood blocks and metal percussion to evoke the sound of rustling bones and the walking dead (just the kind of thing you’d expect from the Undead Alliance). Like most WarCraft III songs, “Arcane Echoes” is divided into multiple sections. The first uses a base of woodblock and metal percussion upon which is built a nice ambient melody and the sense of wind whistling through the trees and ruined farmland. The theme changes at 1:45 to give a drop into atmospheric sound – wind, fog, the breath of spirits floating from an open crypt. This in turn gives way to a flurry of discordant strings at 3:00 that break the building tension like a swarm of plague beetles. The song then moves back to percussion as base, adding lots of metallic instruments at 4:30, and ending with the deep, minor chords, and dissembling into darkness.

The multiple sections of the song are meant to match the different events that could occur during play. Again, I think this song is the perfect piece to being the WarCraft III soundtrack album Read the rest of this entry ?

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Never Released: Warcraft III – “Humans 1” (Andrea G. Pessino)

November 23, 2009

Warcraft is one of those rare games that reinvents a genre not once but twice. The series is most popularly known today for World of Warcraft, the addictive and incredibly popular MMORPG; however, the series was originally known for defining and then redefining the real-time strategy game (RTS) by pitting Orcs and Humans in an endless struggle for control over the land of Azeroth. This track is a beta theme from Warcraft III composed in 2001 that never made it to the final version of the game. Blizzard released three of these tracks by Andrea G. Pessino that sadly never made it into the game, which was finally finished in 2002. As such, this is the first vgm that never was, “Humans 1” from Warcraft III.

Warcraft III – “Humans 1” (Andrea G. Pessino)

Bold brass, valorous strings, royal flutes, strong drums, and dirge bells make for a fantastic theme for the Humans that simply oozes medieval military at its zenith. The track has a very strong theme that is repeated in different variations throughout, with an excellent break at about 2:50 to focus on the drums, making for an excellent battle segment. The track’s dynamics make for a fantastic listen that follows in direct spirit with Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (1995). Sadly, you don’t get the full range of sound because the track was only encoded at 160kbps (as far as I know, no higher quality version was ever publicly released).

Pessino’s music never made it to the final version of the game, but he did contribute to Warcraft III as a composer. Read the rest of this entry ?