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BlizzCon 2010: Cataclysm Puts WoW at 36 Hours of Music, Plus New Details

October 28, 2010 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook BlizzCon 2010: Cataclysm Puts WoW at 36 Hours of Music, Plus New Detailson Twitter

And that’s not all we learned about Cataclysm at BlizzCon 2010. In addition to a live performance of some of the music from the game, we received a great deal of information about how the new music will be implemented in the game, what will be featured on the CD that will be included with the Limited Edition version on of the game, and what will be happening to the original music that Jason Hayes and the Blizzard Entertainment team wrote for the original World of Warcraft.

Find out all the details and see some photos from the show floor after the jump!

First of all, Cataclysm will add approximately 8 hours of new music to the World of Warcraft universe. Audio Director Russell Brower noted that this was approximately the same amount of music that was added with Wrath of the Lich King. This will bring the total music count in World of Warcraft to a whopping 36 hours of in-game music! Quite amazing.

So what’s happening to the old World of Warcraft music? According to Brower, none of it will be removed, but will rather be corralled into smaller zones where it’s appropriate. Given that some zones may now have rifts of lava flowing across the ground, or an oasis in a previously-desolate area, the music had to change accordingly. Since the original World of Warcraft had only 2 hours of music to spread across the entire world, the new music will more accurately reflect what’s going on in those spaces.

Brower is particularly excited about the changes to Stormwind and Ogrimmar because the same melodies that everyone knows and loves from Jason Hayes’s work is still intact, but will reflect the changes to the world. An example, Brower states, is that “Ogrimmar is under new management, and this is reflected in the music even though the percussion and chord changes and brass are familiar.”

In terms of who worked on the soundtrack, Brower, Derek Duke, Neal Acree, and David Arkenstone split the work pretty evenly. Glenn Stafford supplied approximately 12 minutes of music given that he was occupied with StarCraft II at the time that the others were working on Cataclysm. The Northwest Sinfonia Orchestra and Choir were recorded for the login menu theme, “The Shattering,” and the cinematic cues written by Neal Acree. The rest of the music was recorded with California artists, as usual, but unfortunately world woodwind player Pedro Eustache will not be making an appearance. Nor will the nychelharpa that Brower used in the Grizzly Hills area of Wrath of the Lich King. As Brower notes, “We’re going back to the basics. A lot of the music is being driven by the elements: earth, air, fire, and water. At the core of Azeroth, bad, chaotic things are happening. The instruments you know and love from a standard orchestra handle that very well. We weren’t looking for exotic locales as much as emotion. Moving of tectonic plates. Volcanoes rising. Ground cracking.”

Regarding the CD release, Brower shared details on a number of tracks. “The Shattering,” written by Russell Brower, will act as the login screen music, and many of the cinematic scenes will make the cut as well. A track titled “Restoring the Balance” is about the druids trying to rid the forest of a new disease. The World of Warcraft novel, “The Shattering,” apparently serves as an inspiration for this track and many others in this area.

“The Forge” is about the new happenings with the horde, while “Defenders of Azeroth” will cover the alliance. The album ends with a new piece by Neal Acree that is the alliance’s answer to “Lament of the Highborne.” It’s a blood elf folk song that starts on a gentle note like “Lament,” but gets more heavy with the addition of taiko drums.

For fans who don’t pick up the limited edition collection and miss out on the soundtrack CD, the music will be hitting iTunes as a digital LP, complete with additional artwork, liner notes, and commentary for each track to give listeners an idea of the inspirations we dug into above. Also, debuting at BlizzCon 2010, Blizzard Entertainment is now selling sheet music for many of the most popular songs from the game, including “Lament of the Highborne,” “Invincible,” and others. Not only will orchestral scores and piano scores be sold, but complete orchestra sheet music will also be available for amateur orchestras to rent to perform at events around the world.

Finally, we got an actual taste of what Cataclysm will sound like at the sound panel. David Arkenstone took to the stage to perform some of his music, all of which sounded amazing. You can probably find videos of the performance on YouTube, but take my word for it when I say that it sounded great. Arkenstone is a master at creating memorable melodies, and I was actually reminded of The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall by what I heard. It was a bit spooky at times, but really beautiful and tragic at the same time.

I’m excited about the Cataclysm soundtrack, and you should be too! Let us know what you think of the above details, and enjoy some photos from the show floor, including shots of original sheet music from the Blizzard Entertainment sound team.

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