Concerto for 2 Pianos & Orchestra in E Major (2) Felix Mendelssohn Download 'Concerto for 2 Pianos & Orchestra in E Major (2)' on iTunes
Halo 4 is one of the most anticipated video game releases in history, and former Massive Attack collaborator Neil Davidge's soundtrack is every bit as epic as the game itself. Find out more with our track-by-track guide, with quotes from Neil himself.
A belting start to the soundtrack, Neil Davidge utilises some suitably modern instrumentation in this opener: "The piano and basic percussion is a constant throughout all the variations of this piece, augmented with new counter melodies, percussive workouts and eventually the synth bass that now underpins much of it."
Driving, high-pitched strings kick off another tense orchestral work, but Davidge reveals that the piece had origins elsewhere: "The track started out as the original 2011 E3 trailer. We demoed half a dozen ideas for the trailer campaign."
Davidge was inspired by early artwork from the game to give an awestruck feel to this track: "The orchestral string melody versus the twisted Kantele / Dulcimer sound and the pitch reverse delays all combine into an equally compelling musical landscape."
Featuring the voices of Claire Tchaikowski and the London Bulgarian Choir, this is a delicate, textural work with all manner of vocal drones: "This theme represents the 'culture' of the Forerunners, once the proud guardians of the entire known universe."
This is definitely among the more pulsing, electrified tracks here, as Davidge explains: "This is one of the Battle pieces I composed. It started off as an electronic, percussive, ‘glitchy’ demo idea to which I first added the distorted and flanged orchestral string chugging, sampled guitar effects and finally the tense horns and regular string orchestra."
Again, early visits to Halo 4's headquarters informed Davidge's score, which tips its cap to sci-fi scores of old: "There's a nod towards classic Sci-Fi scores in this track, from the Vangelis’ ‘Bladerunner’ score, to the Theremin-led 'The Day The Earth Stood Still'. I particularly love the cascading climax to this piece, reprising the main theme melody on horns."
Working with the London Bulgarian Choir seemed to make an impression on Davidge while recording 'Nemesis': "Originally composed for male choir and orchestra, we later added the female voices of the London Bulgarian Choir due to their enthusiasm for the track."
Just as we were getting used to those lovely choral textures, there's a reminder that this is primarily a game about combat: "With the addition of some great syncopated orchestration the track ended up becoming the bench-mark battle sequence music for the game."
Davidge illuminates the rather unconventional technique for composing this particular track: "This was a 'Dictaphone' composition sung into my iPhone and accompanied by guitar. There was a natural pacing to the melody when sung, yet transcribing it threw up just how delicate and unorthodox the timings were."
Davidge's score incorporates all manner of modern instrumentation alongside the more traditional orchestration, particularly on 'To Galaxy': "This final version has an extended, slow build introduction, leading to a syncopated 'rock riff' on strings and then to the main theme."
Some composers turn to their emotions for inspiration, some to nature, but Neil Davidge goes for this: "It was intended to musically describe the feeling and sight of a person being digitised, physically dismantled and downloaded to become a slave drone."
Music supervisor Kazuma Jinnouchi wrote this section of the OST, as Davidge explains: "His 117 composition is a very fitting addition to the OST and he has superbly provided essential links between my own 'evolution' of the Halo music with the previous music legacy composed by Marty O'Donnell."
Davidge was given a simple brief for this particularly bombastic section of the OST: "When we were asked for an 'epic space battle' I thought this composition might work."
Game soundtracks are renowned for being long, and it sounds like Halo 4 was no exception: "This is a complex evolution of the 'Nemesis' theme. The original production was around thirteen minutes long but I had to edit it down for the OST even though it still lasts around 7:20!"
The final track from the album is being released as a single, and features a gorgeous cello solo from London Contemporary Orchestra cellist David Cohen, as Neil Davidge explains: "This is an emotional, beautiful, rich and very human composition. It’s one of my favourite pieces from the score and was also the very first orchestral recording that we made at Abbey Road studios for the game."