Composed by
Jeremy Soule

 

Published by
DirectSong (2006)

 

Tracklistings
1) Nerevar Rising
2) Peaceful Waters
3) Knight's Charge
4) Over the Next Hill
5) Bright Spears Dark Blood
6) The Road Most Travelled
7) Dance of Swords
8) Blessing of Vivec
9) Ambush!
10) Silt Sunrise
11) Hunter's Pursuit
12) Shed Your Travails
13) Stormclouds on the Battlefield
14) Caprice
15) Drumbeat of the Dunmer
16) Darkened Depths
17) The Prophecy Fulfilled
18) Triumphant
19) Introduction
20) Fate's Quickening
21) Nerevar Rising (Reprise)

 

Extras
- Game website
- Composer website

 

Availability
- DirectSong
- Collector's Edition features soundtrack

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Bethesda Softworks’ highly anticipated role playing game Morrowind combines stunning graphics and open-ended gameplay to simulate a living and breathing world in which the player’s character can basically do whatever he wants to. It was a huge project taking many years to complete and despite its minor flaws stands for some as one of the truest RPGs ever created. Composer Jeremy Soule was brought on the project to provide the music.

The first thing you’ll notice about the score is its wonderful and memorable main theme performed by harp, flute and strings. It’s filled with an adventurous spirit that serves the game very well and provides a fitting introduction to the world of Morrowind.

Over the course of the game the player is travelling through many different areas and locations completing quests and finding new ones and the exploration tracks loop over and over again. Very well aware of that, Soule tried to make the themes interesting, but not overpowering. There are neither outbursts of big string and brass sections nor huge arrays of thunderous percussion. What you will hear is much more subtle. French horn solos backed up with flutes, oboes and strings give the environments a sense of beauty and wonder as for example in “Track 2”. When entering a town you might hear “Track 6”, which is quite an uplifting cue that portrays the busy life of the citizens.

Whenever you’re attacked, the music changes to one of the battle tracks. Filled with power and excitement, they make the fights adrenaline-pumping and heart-pounding and never let you go until the last enemy is defeated. In some of the tracks the main theme makes its statement, for example in “Track 5” performed by strings or in “Track 7” elegantly performed by a flute.

One cannot speak of the soundtrack of Morrowind without mentioning its horrible use in the game itself. The developers didn’t think that big cities needed other music than beautiful and vast landscapes. Consequently, the music tracks loop over and over again and don’t change according to what’s going on on-screen except when you’re attacked. You might find yourself in a creepy and frightening dungeon with the majestic theme of Morrowind playing in the background. I’ve seldom seen atmosphere so efficiently destroyed.

Whereas the unfitting use of the score in the game isn’t Soule’s fault, there are still a few things to criticise. First of all, it’s certainly not his most inspiring or inventive work. If you’re familiar with his scores to Dungeon Siege or Neverwinter Nights, you won’t find many new things to marvel at. Furthermore, Soule can’t hide the fact that the whole score is done by synthesizers and some passages, mainly the ones with a dominant use of horns, might sound a bit harsh to the ear.

For the release of the soundtrack over DirectSong, Soule made some changes to the score. The DirectSong website states that the score was “newly remastered and re-sequenced for increased value”. When I asked Soule what exactly they changed he said that “they updated things like signal path and went back to the original snapshot automations”, whatever that means.

Morrowind is a captivating and engaging score with a wonderful main theme. If you don’t have the score already, then the DirectSong release is certainly the way to go. It may not be Soule’s most original work, but it’s definitely a fine and worthy addition to your video game music collection.