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Bungie’s upcoming first-person shooter Destiny has a big name contributing to its soundtrack: Sir Paul McCartney. According to the New York Times, The Beatles great has been working on the score sporadically over the past four years, collaborating with Michael Salvatori and former Bungie in-house composer Marty O’Donnell, both renowned for their epic compositional work on Bungie’s most acclaimed franchise, Halo.
In addition to his score collaborations, McCartney will release a single shortly after Destiny is released on September 9th. The single appears to be a theme song of sorts, centered on the topic of hope, recorded with a 120-piece ensemble at McCartney’s old stomping grounds, Abbey Road. In similarly nostalgic form, McCartney enlisted Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin – often referred to as the “Fifth Beatle”) as the director, in addition to producer Mark “Spike” Stent.
McCartney first announced his involvement with Destiny in 2012, though it wasn’t until recently that the details emerged. At that point, he had already been involved with the project for two years. Prior to this, O’Donnell was the one who suggested to Bungie that McCartney may be interested in collaborating – especially upon hearing that Destiny‘s musical sequences would be determined and altered by gameplay. McCartney is always seeking fun, innovative ways to make music, so this seemed like a natural fit.
For most musicians, contributing a score to a game whose music is determined by actual gameplay may have seemed daunting, like riding a used forklift without any experience, but for McCartney – who has created several full-length orchestral scores, in addition to creating a more electronic form of music under the moniker Fireman – the challenge was apparently a welcome one. It’s uncertain what McCartney’s collaborations sound like – and if it even involves his vocals – but one can certainly be assured of rich atmospheres with a propensity for hooks.
McCartney has never mentioned to the press that he was interested in video games at all, but that hasn’t stopped McCartney and Salvatori from composing a 50-minute orchestral suite revolving aroundDestiny’s themes, according to what O’Donnell told gaming publication Edge. “I came up with this idea of music of the spheres. I came up with eight pieces, a suite, it turned out to be 50 minutes long, we’re going to be releasing it before the game,” O’Donnell explains. “And that’s the thing that I got Paul interested in working with us on.”
O’Donnell also elaborated on his creative process, specifically how his work on Destiny is different than the Halo series. “It’s hard for me – and some of the guys get impatient about it, like ‘Hey Marty, quick, just write an iconic theme and show it to us.’ But that’s not what I did with Halo. I like to write music,” he says. “And now getting to work with Paul McCartney it’s just great to work on a whole bunch of music with a lot of themes. So we have this really great start on many, many pieces of music that all seem to work together well.”
As for the actual video game, Destiny is a first-person shooter with MMO elements. In the beta released last month, gamers enjoyed exploring a small part of the game’s upcoming world with others online, as they fought Halo-esque enemies. The controls were very similar to Halo, making it an accessible experience. The music during the beta was diverse, from spacey, lush ambience to climactic percussion-laden momentum shifts. Enlisting someone like McCartney, in addition to veterans O’Donnell and Salvatori, ensures that the final product will be as memorable as the rest of Bungie’s body of work. Destiny is out on September 9th for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
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