Blizzard's Russell Brower

The Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo composer reflects on his career...

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Sometimes one of us really wants to do a certain area and sometimes it's just the right bag, if you will, for one of us.

Going beyond that - obviously I can only talk about my own personal composing - I do as much research as possible. The more research I do up front before I write a single note, the faster the process will go when I actually sit down to create a score.

That research includes studying our books - be it a novel or the RPG books - to get the backstory of a village or journey or scene or encounter. Once it gets to a state [of gameplay] where I can run around in it, I'll take hundreds of screenshots of the most compelling, inspirational vistas I can find and I'll put those shots up all over my walls and on my computer desktop and I'll absorb that for weeks and weeks.

The longer I spend doing that the more efficiently and quickly I'll write. When it comes to orchestral music, I write it onto paper in a fairly old fashioned way - sometimes at the piano, sometimes not. From there we go to the studio and record all the live versions. I then bring those recordings back to my studio and I enhance that with some keyboards - sweeten them, if you will.

What were the main differences in your approach to Cataclysm compared to the other previous Warcrafts?
We have an opportunity to deal with many parts of Azeroth which we haven't been able to do before - we've previously been confined to Outland, Karazhan and other places.

We're really enjoying the process of identifying what pieces of existing music in the cannon to the game [we can use]. We don't want to make Cataclysm's score feel like you're hearing 'Warcraft music' - we want to make it feel complementary to the storyline; that the world has been broken in certain binding events surrounding Deepholm and the Elemental Plane.

I like just leading up this path, this endless path of evolving music. So again it's an evolutionary process, it's not about implementing sweeping changes just because we can.

One thing that Warcraft does that differentiates it from any other game is it's a constant in people's lives. How do you feel about soundtracking years of people's existence like that?
What a wonderful comment. I know that all of us composers grew up loving music - but probably in each of our lives there was some point where we heard, you know, a film score piece of classical music or something that really was influential on us choosing what we do for our passion.

The thought that something I create is going to be the soundtrack for other people's lives in the same way that certain popular music or classical music was for me when I was young? That's just an amazing concept. I have to stay focused on the game - because that's almost too cool a thing to get my head around.

Starcraft II is going to be a more 'rockier' affair than the pastoral elements of Warcraft. How would you characterise the score?
I wasn't personally involved with the original Starcraft game. But the music for Starcraft II is pretty faithful - again, it's an evolutionary process.

The rock-fusion-jazzy mix of soundtrack that works with these space trucking cowboy-types is certainly in there. [Blizzard's] Glenn Stafford, who did the original Starcraft music, has done similar work on Starcraft II.

We essentially used Peter Gabriel's old rhythm section, who did an outstanding job. So it's a similar style of music to the first game, but with live players this time. We really specifically wanted to differentiate it from Warcraft - not only from the scoring, but we also recorded it in a completely different fashion.

Warcraft's score is normally recorded in a chapel; literally a Gothic cathedral-type building with 47 foot ceilings. It helps create a very primitive, raw, dark sound. Starcraft was recorded in a very traditional film scoring stage - the one at Skywalker [Ranch, Los Angeles]. That resulted in a more traditional film score sound. It's subtle, but the purposeful impact of [those the environment] was very different.

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