Star Wars: Battlefront took fandom and gaming fans on a whole new experience. Being a first person shooter set in the galaxy far, far away, it offered up a really fun play style with incredible maps. You could really fall into the atmosphere of the planets with its incredible imagery. But not only that, its great soundtrack. And that’s thanks to Gordy Haab. Composer of games such as Star Wars: Old Republic, Star Wars Kinect and of course the first Battlefront, he’s been bringing the music of Star Wars to gamers for years. Now he had a new challenge in the sequel – creating music for a brand new canon story.
Star Wars: Battlefront II introduced Iden Versio, an Imperial officer and part of an Elite Squad. Her world is shattered after the destruction of the Second Death Star, sending the Empire into chaos. Versio needs to try to stop the Rebels from destroying everything or adapt to the new climate before it’s too late. And with all this action – it needed a fantastic score.
We asked Haab a few questions regarding his music, process, fandom and of course, Star Wars.
What was the most exciting part of working on a brand new canon story?
Knowing that my contributions, however small they may be, will become stamped onto Star Wars history. As a life-long, Star Wars fan, this is an honor I could’ve only dreamed of when I was a kid playing with my action figures and acting out all the lines from the films.
When approaching Iden’s theme – what did you want people to know about her through music?
That, although she’s an Imperial soldier, she’s also a dynamic and thoughtful character, capable of reasoning and growing. So her theme, albeit dark, heavy, and militant, also has an upward-reaching arc. It continuously climbs, ascending to a peak, both harmonically and melodically, much like she as a character. This is in direct contrast to her father, Garrick Versio’s theme. Which is essentially the exact same melodic shape and rhythm – but rather, it continuously descends to an anchored landing point in order to indicate a certain sternness for a character who is very set in his ways.
How difficult (or easy) is it to incorporate themes that’ve been established while also putting your own stamp on it?
Very rarely do I incorporate established themes into my own music for Star Wars: Battlefront II. It does occasionally happen, but more often than not, when you hear one of John Williams’ original themes, it’s a one-off fanfare to introduce a known character onto the battlefield. More so than incorporate established themes, I incorporate the musical “language” from the original John Williams’ scores. I studied his music much in the same way someone who speaks English might learn French. To use the same analogy, my approach was the equivalent of an English novelist writing an original story, but in French. It’s still their original story – just in a different language.
What was your favorite music to compose in the game?
My favorite was also the most challenging: Iden Versio’s theme. It was a challenge because of how important her character was to the game. We all wanted something that was dark, powerful, and dynamic. But also something that would become instantly recognizable. A memorable, singable tune, if you will. This is something we all know John Williams excels at doing. But it’s not as easy as he makes it seem. For it to work, the theme needs to be interesting but simple. And it also needs to be heard numerous times by the listener. We all know the “Imperial March” theme. But we know it because it’s a simple melody that plays probably 40 times throughout The Empire Strikes Back. I took the same approach and wrote many variations of “Iden’s theme” that are scattered throughout the game. Knowing I’d need to do this, I had to make sure the melody itself was very versatile – so it could be played in many different styles, fit many different emotions, and do so in a way that felt natural, musically.
What was your favorite map to play on? And what era is your favorite to play with?
Starkiller Base is really awesome and beautiful. I just want to walk around and explore. As far as era goes, simply for nostalgia, I’d go with original trilogy. I tend to chose original trilogy characters to play with for this reason. For me, playing this game is the equivalent of playing with my action figures and acting out my own Star Wars scenes as a kid. I’m literally reliving the best memories from my youth through this game.
If you had to pick, which planet would you rather be stuck on – Jakku or Kamino?
I’d probably go with Kamino. Because the belonging I seek is not behind me, it is ahead. Plus, my contacts tend to dry out and irritate my eyes on Jakku. I also typically like cities, and Tipoca is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Maybe I could have some clones made to help me around the studio.
Final question – Rebellion or Empire?
Rebellion. No question.
Thank you so much for your time and hope to hear more Star Wars music from you soon!
You can check out Gordy on his website here. Also be sure to check out his latest take on Star Wars music in Star Wars: Battlefront II, out in stores now.
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