In the first instance, it was suggested to attempt to write traditionally authentic historical music but the lack of bona fide material from the time coupled with my concern for its relevance to today’s audience encouraged me to explore a different route. The decision was made to combine authenticity with a more accessible ‘contemporary Hollywood sound’. I started by referencing historical musical sources to help define my instrumental palette and inform my musical decisions. I wanted to focus on writing strong melodies using instrumentation and musical language associated with the genre and time period I was writing in. I combined this methodology with contemporary stylistic decisions to create a traditional yet cinematic crossover.
We decided to write music that was culturally inspired by different geographical areas of the far reaching Roman Empire. From Hispania in the west, we went through Celtic Gaul to Britannia and Germania in the north. We then followed along the Macedonian province and the Greek Isles east through Thrace and Cilicia all the way to the Parthian border and then back along Aegyptus and Numidia. We decided to title the tracks in such a way that if someone looks up the titles, they will find some interesting piece of history from the region they are inspired by.
Whilst I was given a healthy amount of creative freedom I was also instructed for each genre to cover the 3 main themes of general tasking, action based and intrigue/plotting. Writing in so many different genres with which I had little experience, was a daunting yet fun challenge.
The other requirement for this prototype was to ensure that all of the music written for the game could interweave and loop at random. I made the decision to write everything in the same tempo and complimentary key signatures, keeping the development relatively linear yet at the same time ensuring there was enough variation in content, style and melody, to keep the listener interested.
Production wise, I used a combination of digitally sampled instruments and real live performances to make sure the recordings had enough realism. String sections were the most predominant instruments throughout most of the compositions and due to their nature it was vital the majority of them were recorded for real.
I have now spent over a year composing music for this project on and off. It has been a unique and interesting challenge and I like how it has encouraged me to explore and write in styles and genres I wouldn’t have necessarily written in otherwise.