January 21st, 2007

Conan the King (Conan the Barbarian)

Music for the World Conquest Game

Art, Brad, Nate, Russ and I were supposed to get together and play Risk this weekend, but there were too many scheduling conflicts. However, over the course of the week I had started working on this project, which was an idea I had been playing with for many years.

Providing music for Risk, a project I've been working on since 1995, has always been both a fun and frustrating task; fun in that it was an context that friends of mine not normally disposed towards film music could enjoy some of what I like, but frustrating in that a typical game of Risk lasted much longer than the 110 minute tape that I had initially put together. Another problem is that putting too much battle music together ends up creating a listening experience that is more trying than it is entertaining (this was a problem with my Road Rage: The Orchestral Album concept I have not yet solved). However, Risk is not just about fighting, although the music would have to predominantly reflect the aggressive nature of the game. It's about politics, deals and treaties. It's about playing the people, not the game, and so in coming up with a two disc mix I opened the door to a somewhat wider variety of music. I then expanded on that by creating a third disc that was meant to be played between the other two.

However, between the fact that while these were fun discs to play (and I got many complements on them), it was inconvenient to lug around three CDs that were always getting scratched (and I didn't have back-ups for). However, bouyed with the success of my Jenga mp3 CD project, I therefore resolved at some point in the past to begin working on making a Risk mp3 CD. the added advantage there being that as long as I made sure all the tracks were properly closed off (i.e., no crossfades), the disc could be played at random to avoid hearing the same music each time. Furthermore, if I keep the music as file folder on the computer, I can add to it over time, which is something I'd been doing with the Jenga mp3 CD as well (which is as of the initial writing of this piece at version 6.0).

I wanted to make sure, however, that the disc played out in an entertaining manner even if it wasn't played at random. This was bourne out of necessity as much as aesthetics; while my Toshiba DVD-Audio player plays mp3s at random, it can only display the DOS file names, and while the Sony SACD/DVD changer will show the full file name, it won't play mp3s at random. And since the game is played at different places, it is unclear as to whether the disc will be played in an outfitted CD player or a computer, so having a pleasing default playlist can't possibly hurt.

Many pieces have been here since the very first incarnation, including the North piece from 2001 introducing the set, "Peregrinus Expectavi" from Alexander Nevsky (one of my favorite bits of film music ever), "Hot Water" from Outland, the El Cid March and so on... but this was also a case where I included other genres of music. Everything here is orchestral, but I also included some tracks for their popularity; "Siegfried's Death and Funeral March," selections from Carmina Burana, "Mars, the Bringer of War" and "In the Hall of the Mountain King." I also included "The Ride of the Valkyries," though I used the Solti version with the vocal (I'm interested in seeing how my friends react to hearing the "laughing" parts) which was, coincidentally, the same recording that was used in Apocalypse Now.

Working in the mp3 format freed me from a lot of the work I'd normally do while making a compilation. There are no crossfades (necessary more for the random option than for the format itself), so I didn't have to pull out Soundtrax except for the suites I edited. In some cases, I did fade out cues that would tail into or out of the adjacent track on the album, but many tracks I could just copy directly from Artoo (Cowon iAudio X5). It also took away most of the temporal restrictions that working in the audio CD format place, which meant that I could contain a wider variety of music from a single source, as well as including longer pieces. The tracks I composited myself are "The Balrog of Morgoth," which consists of a combination of the Khazad-Dûm material from the The Fellowship of the Ring album and Complete Recordings leading into the opening of The Two Towers. "The Adventures of Den" is a short suite from the "Den" sequence of Heavy Metal. "The Battle of Helm's Deep" is an excerpt sequence from The Two Towers I put together in preparation for my eventual Lord of the Rings 2 CD set. "Dark Phoenix's Power" is an edit consisting of the confrontations occuring at the Grey household from X-Men: The Last Stand and the finale of the film.

I will be adding to this folder and updating this entry periodically.

mp3 CD

Version 2.4 - Updated 8/26/07

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