Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion continues to be one of the most well received and best selling games of this year and part of that acclaim comes from Jeremy Soule, the music composer for the Bethesda Softworks RPG game as well as many other well known titles both past and future. FiringSquad got a chance to chat with Soule about his work on the game, (including the personal event that helped inspire his music) as well as Jason Michael Paul, the producer of the PLAY! game music concert series that will begin a tour in Chicago this weekend and where the music of Oblivion will be presented with a full symphony orchestra in front of a live audience.
FiringSquad: Jeremy, you have written the score for a game that's already being called the best game of 2006. Did you know while creating the soundtrack that you would be making a game that would get so much critical praise?
Jeremy Soule: Well, the game was certainly a home run according to many reviewers and fans. I don't want to speak for Todd Howard, but I am sure that everyone at Bethesda had a feeling that they couldn't take their success with Morrowind for granted when it came to Oblivion. I've written music for some very successful games but I never had a feeling that Oblivion would be an easy project. The number one thing that drove me to improve my music was knowing that there were super talented people working very hard to make this game. I didn't want to let them down. Their work was an inspiration to me.
FiringSquad: How did you work with Bethesda Softworks on the musical score for the game?
Jeremy Soule: Todd provided me with an assortment of images and videos and we also discussed the game. The game itself gave me an idea for a very focused direction. I also had heard that my music was used to inspire certain gameplay elements late in production. It was a very collaborative process.
FiringSquad: What sorts of inspirations did you call upon while you were composing the music for the game?
Jeremy Soule: I really had to dig deeply into my life experiences and sculpt these events into a musical fantasy. I feel that my voice was strong in this music. The score is very personal for me yet it was designed to suit the game.
Around the time that I was about one third complete with the score, I had a terrible car accident that was caused by some freak wind and rain. I ended up rolling in my car several times on an interstate while flying headlong into oncoming traffic. All of this occurred at night in the rural area just south of the Canadian border in the Pacific Northwest.
As the crash was occurring, I remember that I felt no fear although I was obviously concerned for the people in cars that were headed in my direction. I simply just acknowledged to myself that I've had a good life and I would soon have to say goodbye to all of it in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, I ended up safely out of harms way with only a minor scratch on my elbow (as my arm went through the glass of the driver's side window).
In the seconds before my crash ended...that emotion... one that life is indeed precious stayed with me as I proceeded to write the score for Oblivion. I barely mentioned any of this to Todd but it must have had an effect on the music as the score was really void of revisions. What you hear in the game is what I wrote on my first attempt at each piece of music.