Musical history was made this week as composer Christopher Tin won the first Grammy award for Best Instrumental with Vocalist. What's so special about this win, you ask? The song that won was "Baba Yetu," the main theme for Sid Meyer's Civilization IV, making this the first piece of video game music to ever win a Grammy. Many well-deserved congratulations to Tim and all who worked on it, as it is a truly stunning piece of music.
After such a monumental occasion, one should consider the role that music plays in our gaming experience -- and in this case, for World of Warcraft. Blizzard has brought on some of the most talented composers, singers and musicians in order to make the music more than just background noise -- it's become part of the entire culture of WoW.
The themes for World of Warcraft are the most recognizable, as they usually encompass an entire expansion. The subsequent music for the zones complement the main theme and the feel for the game (and expansion) as a whole. From the quiet, natural melodies of the original game, to the melancholy, gothic hymns of Wrath of the Lich King, everything has always matched. I remember the first time that I watched the Wrath cinematic and could feel tears welling up when I heard the falsetto. It was so haunting and sad, and it spoke volumes of the hurt, betrayal and agony of Arthas, the Lich King.
We recently took a bit of time to interview Cataclysm soundtrack team member David Arkenstone on his composing process and what he thought he added to the game as a whole. Personally, I think he hit the musical nail on the head -- his music perfectly relays the epic, harrowing feelings of the destruction of Azeroth. Hyjal was the first zone I played, and I think I sat in the inn for a good 10 minutes just listening to the gentle woodwinds.
With composers like Christopher Tin paving the way for the "video games as art" argument, could it be possible for some of the musical scores of Cataclysm and beyond to be on the red carpet? I certainly hope so, as these creations are no less valid than anything Lady Gaga makes.