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The symphonic strains of WoW-inspired composer Rehmaar (aka Taylor Goodson) will sound familiar to World of WarCrafts regulars. His atmospheric "Knights of the Valiant Fury Overture," which we featured back in the spring, was written and dedicated to his guild, <Knights of Valiant Fury> of Destromath (US-H). The WoW.com spotlight, combined with a growing stream of visitors and encouragement on his YouTube channel, inspired Goodson to continue composing his guild- and character-inspired pieces -- and it inspired us to come back and take a second look at Goodson's work.
World of WarCrafts: Taylor, tell us a little more about your WoW-themed compositions are heading as a whole. Do you have a goal for the project, or are you simply following your muse?
Taylor Goodson: Definitely just following my muse. I would never try to make money off of these pieces (especially since some of the material isn't completely my own -- for example in "Protectors of Azeroth" I used the theme of Stormwind) as they are always just for fun -- I write them for guildmates and friends typically as a gift for accepting me into the guild or just because I really like the people I meet. I have work that has been published before that I make a little money off of, but these pieces will never fall into that category.
These are no simple, pop-style tunes! What's your musical background and training?
I am currently a student of music at Montclair State University in New Jersey. There, I am a percussion performance major, focusing on playing all the different percussion instruments. I have actually never studied music composition formally (except maybe my music theory classes) -- I am just interested in the different sounds an ensemble can produce, and I like to experiment with the different possibilities. In the Preparatory Center at MSU, I teach music theory for young musicians, and being able to compose can really help the kids understand the different theories and ideas that may otherwise be too complicated for them. Ultimately, composition lets me speak without actually having to say anything.
Can you tell us a little more about the tools and approach you use for composing?
For composing, I only use a program called Sibelius 6. It is by far the closest thing to using a pencil and paper available on the computer, in my opinion, so I always stick to using it. It has playback to let you hear what you have written, which is a huge advantage for composers today. It will never sound truly "real," of course, as these pieces are written for an entire orchestra and choir (possibly 150 performers), but the digital representations by Sibelius 6 are pretty close.
What's the process of creating one of these pieces like? Can you walk us through your general process?
For all of these pieces, the process was the same. First, I think about what I am writing about. Is it a character, specifically, such as "Tahlus Tourvald"? If so, what is the character like? Is he funny, scary, happy, sad? Then obviously, I need to find how to describe the subject in music. So I sit down at the piano and start testing ideas, finding themes and starting to create cohesive ideas.
After I have a general sense of what the piece will sound like (at this point, it never sounds anything like the finished project), I fire up the computer and start to write down the ideas I found whilst at the keyboard. Then I toy with these ideas. I start to experiment with different instruments and the sounds they provide to try to find the sound that best suits the subject. From here on, I bounce between the computer and the piano, listening to different things to try to pick out what I want to use or forget. Sometimes it takes forever to find what I am looking for, while other times, it can be a matter of minutes. Some pieces are finished in hours, where others take days, if not weeks.
There are also times where works simply get recycled. For example, a friend of mine wanted me to write some music to play for his guild while they raided through Naxx. So I started with some ideas and they just kept growing -- so much that I ended up scrapping the piece because it simple contained too many different ideas. However, about a year later I went back and transformed the dead raiding music into what is now known as "The Knights of Valiant Fury Overture." The process can be time-consuming and definitely frustrating, but all of these pieces come together at some point.
Are you actively playing WoW yourself? Who's your main?
Of course! The one question I always dread to answer is "Who is your main?" Because I love role-playing so much, I hate to claim one character as the most superior or the most interesting. Right now, I am focused on two of my characters on the Horde side of Wyrmrest Accord: Tahlus (the subject of the piece "Tahlus Tourvald") a Forsaken priest who is level 61, and Thorsin, a level 80 Forsaken mage. I am a member of the Forsaken RP guild <Scythe of Sylvanas> and am having a great time playing with these awesome people -- nowhere else have I found better roleplaying, that is for sure!
What do you listen to in game - WoW's soundtrack, or your own music?
I would choose the professionally made WoW soundtrack over my own any day. The work that team of composers has done is absolutely extraordinary, and in my opinion, if you do not listen to their amazing work while playing the game, you aren't getting the entire experience WoW has to offer. The team's use of themes and musical ideas is incredibly complex; if you look (and more specifically listen) at the trailers and cinematics Blizzard produces, you can usually always find tidbits of Horde and Alliance material (most poignant in my mind is the trailer for Cataclysm).
What's your favorite in-game theme?
As much as I love the Horde and everything it has to offer, I have to go with the theme from Stormwind. Whenever I walk through the main gates down the Valley of Heroes, the music is so powerful -- it is wrought with the pressures of war, and yet it is declarative and strong. I also really love the mysterious music of Teldrassil and how it perfectly suits the night elf lands. The Horde has great music as well -- the powerful music of Orgrimmar and the intensive tribal sounds of the trolls, to the elegant music of the blood elves and the spooky sounds of Undercity. However, if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Stormwind.
Here's betting more than a few readers out there will be marking Goodson's own compositions as favorites! Keep up with all of Goodson's work on his YouTube channel. World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players. Sample the entire spectrum at WoW.com's Arts and Crafts in WoW page, and strut your own stuff by emailing email@example.com your not-for-profit, WoW-inspired creations.