Recently, Bungie and Microsoft released their newest addition to the Halo franchise called Halo Reach. So far, I haven’t had the opportunity to play the game, but from what I’ve heard, read, and seen, it definitely looks like it could be the most epic of all those that came before it.
Up until now, the scores previously released haven’t been high on my playlists, with the exception of Stephen Rippy’s score for Halo Wars. Recently, I have spun the score for Halo ODST but it didn’t have the effect on me that Reach does.
The scale of this score is a lot bigger than the previous efforts from O’Donnel and Salvatori. Not only is the sound grander, but the soundtrack is much longer as well… two discs with well over an hour and a half worth of music.
The first track is well titled: “Overture”. As soon as it begins, its not hard to tell that the quality of O’Donnel and Salvatori’s orchestral samples have definitely improved since their first Halo score. Musically, they’re using a very middle eastern flavor, slightly reminiscent of Jarre’s Lawrence of Arabia. I don’t know if it’s the orchestration, or the samples, but the overall sound is much fuller on this album. The choir or vocal sounds are also produced better and have a much more “real” sound than the earlier scores.
Through listening to this, I notice something that I hadn’t in listening to any of the other scores; at 2:46 of “Overture” they have a variation of their Halo theme, and the orchestration they chose reminds me of the opening half of the melody from Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov.
A lot of the score is very string heavy with percussion, and at times they include brass as well. But they also include some very cool electronic sounds and distorted guitar and bass.
One thing I noticed in a cue called “The package,” was a melody (0:16) that was so very similar to the first half of the “Fairy Tale Theme” from Shrek (0:12). This theme returns at different points around the score.
There are a lot of massive (length) cues on this score. Fitting for a game; many of them have parts that shift into semi-unrelated material. This makes sense, I presume, as one travels through the different parts of the accompanying video game. Sometimes, the electronic elements are well blended with the orchestral parts.
One great cue that shows development over all the franchise’s scores is “Tip of the Spear.” It includes the entire original melody, and throughout the first half of the piece it develops that into a complete idea. At about 3:04 the idea completes itself and the track continues on with an electronic idea that is unrelated.
Throughout, the team throw in snippets and slight variations of their original Halo theme, helping to tie this score in with all those that came before it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this score and look forward to playing the game. (I think my brother already got it for me for my birthday. If that’s true, thanks bro! w00t w00t!!)