Music of the Command & Conquer series

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The cover of The Music of Command & Conquer.

The music of the Command & Conquer series refers to the soundtracks of the Command & Conquer (C&C or CNC) video games, as well as soundtrack and compilation albums. C&C is a video game franchise, mostly of the real-time strategy style, developed primarily by Westwood Studios and Electronic Arts.[1] Much of the music for the series was composed and produced by Westwood Studios' former sound director and video game music composer Frank Klepacki for the early games, with composition duties being taken on by several others following the liquidation of Westwood Studios in 2003. Klepacki returned to the series in 2008 however to assist with the soundtrack for Red Alert 3.

Albums[edit]

Command & Conquer[edit]

The Music of Command & Conquer
Studio album by Frank Klepacki
Released 1995
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length 72:51
Label Westwood Studios
Producer Frank Klepacki
Short clip of Act on Instinct — 173 KB

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The Music of Command & Conquer is a soundtrack album containing musical tracks from the video game Command & Conquer, composed by Frank Klepacki and produced by Westwood. It was originally released in 1995. The soundtrack spans two discs and 22 tracks with combined duration of approximately 72 minutes. The soundtrack was bundled with some of the game's collector's editions, which feature tracks from both the original Command & Conquer and the expansion. Though it was never released through retail, Westwood Studios sold this official soundtrack by special order through its website and in game catalogues.[2] The album was packaged with a brushed aluminium design and featuring the official Command & Conquer logo. Many songs included in the release of the album include vocals which could previously only be heard on the PlayStation version of the game; these were actually the original versions of the songs.[3][4] The voice samples in the songs conflicted with the voices in the game, factoring in their removal from the in-game soundtrack.[4]

Some song names differ from the in-game versions.[3] In these cases, the in-game track title is mentioned behind the original title. Also, some track titles differ from the versions on Frank Klepacki's website. In these cases, the website's track titles are mentioned behind the original in-game track title. The first seven in-game tracks are only available with the The Covert Operations expansion pack.

The Command & Conquer soundtrack is the first video game produced by Westwood to feature streaming music as opposed to MIDI.[4] The 22k mono tracks were produced using an ASR-10 sampler, a Roland S760 sampler and a Roland JD-990 synth module.[4] Klepacki has credited influences from dozens of artists including Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd and Nine Inch Nails in the production of the soundtrack.[4] Klepacki wrote the songs in batches, each in different musical genres. "In The Line of Fire" was written in an orchestral style while "C&C Thang" was influenced by Hip Hop and metal in "Deception".[4] Certain songs such as Hold On, in the style of Laurie Anderson, were cut from the game because they did not fit the style Klepacki was aiming for in the overall soundtrack.[4] With the release of the Covert Operations expansion pack Klepacki composed many of the ambient songs of which he was requested by Westwood for the game.[4]

The track "No Mercy" as well as "Deception" feature quotes of the character Chuck De Nomolos from the film Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. "In Trouble" contains quotes of Maverick from Top Gun and the track "I Remember Now" from the Queensrÿche album Operation: Mindcrime. None of these are actual voice samples from the original sources; they were all re-recorded in their own audio studio.[4]

Command & Conquer: Red Alert[edit]

The Music of Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Studio album by Frank Klepacki
Released 1996
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length 67:44
Label Westwood Studios
Producer Frank Klepacki
Short clip of Hell March — 571 KB

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The game's original score was composed by Frank Klepacki and was voted the best video game soundtrack of 1996 by PC Gamer and Gameslice magazines.[5] Among his most famous songs from the series is the theme of Red Alert, titled "Hell March", which accents the style of the game with adrenalized riffs of electric guitar, the sounds of marching feet, and synthesizers to a sampled drill command. Originally intended to be the theme for the Brotherhood of Nod faction in the Covert Operations expansion to the 1995 Command & Conquer,[6] the track eventually ended up enlisting itself as a staple in the Red Alert series instead.

After C&C came out we wasted no time kicking out Covert Ops. I wrote some more ambient style themes they asked me for, and then I began tinkering with this heavy metal song that I was trying to gear towards Nod for the next big C&C game. Brett Sperry came in my office and said "You got anything I can hear for the new C&C?" I played it for him. He said "What's the name of this one?" I said "Hell March." He said "That's the signature song for our next game."[4]

— Frank Klepacki, Senior Composer

Following the success of "Hell March", Klepacki headed the composition of its two variations, each becoming the main theme for Red Alert 2 ("Hell March 2/HM2") and Red Alert 3 ("Hell March 3"), respectively.

When playing the single-player campaign, a limited number of tracks are initially available, and more are unlocked as the player progresses through missions. When playing in a multiplayer or "skirmish" game, however, all tracks are available from the start. More tracks were included in the Red Alert expansion packs: Counterstrike, The Aftermath and Retaliation. The music tracks can be listened to on Frank Klepacki's website.

An official soundtrack was released with unique album art designed by Westwood studios and, like the previous release, featured the official Command & Conquer series logo with the Red Alert series motif below. The album contained all fifteen songs plus a hidden bonus track. Half a minute after the end of track 15 plays an unnamed bonus track. Its melodramatic opening was used in the secret campaign, and the track itself is a tribute to Misirlou, using the rhythm of an earlier Command & Conquer music piece, "No Mercy". In the media player on Frank Klepacki's website, the track is titled "Surf No Mercy".

Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun[edit]

Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun Soundtrack
Studio album by Frank Klepacki and Jarrid Mendelson
Released 1999
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length 65:58
Label Westwood Studios
Producer Frank Klepacki
Short clip of Dusk Hour — 195 KB

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The soundtrack of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun was released in 1999. In addition certain editions of Tiberian Sun came with the soundtrack bundled in, such as in the Platinum Edition and Firepower bundle pack, which also contained the original Tiberian Sun and its expansion pack, Firestorm.

Reception of the soundtrack was mixed as the music departed from the industrial music style of the original Command & Conquer in favor of a slow, moody ambient music reflecting the game's apocalyptic setting in a world being ecologically ravaged by Tiberium.[7] Klepacki had originally started writing the soundtrack in a similar style to the previous titles but, after a meeting with Westwood, it was decided that the soundtrack would be "very dark, moody and not upbeat at all."[7] To help him achieve the desired style Klepacki enlisted the help and "electronic style" of Jarrid Mendelson for the production of songs such as Dusk hour and Flurry before the two split to write the remainder of the songs in their respective studios.[7]

I didn't want to stray too far from the original C&C soundtrack, but it had to be more futuristic and ambient. From there I tried to capture the mood the designers wanted for each mission. I even brought in another composer for some of the in game scores, Jarrid Mendelson, who I knew would compliment my style for this genre of music. Also, you'll notice I put more development into GDI & NOD's signature themes for the movie sequences.[8]

— Frank Klepacki, Senior Composer

When the time came to score the music for the Firestorm expansion pack, Klepacki and the producer decided that the music should be more upbeat and a return to the original style of the music of Command & Conquer.[7]

Unlike previous album releases the cover for Tiberian Sun did not feature the classic Command & Conquer series logo but favoured a shadowed style mirroring the ambient musical tone of the album.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2[edit]

Red Alert 2 Original Soundtrack
Studio album by Frank Klepacki
Released 2001
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length 63:19[9]
Label Westwood Studios
Producer Frank Klepacki
Short clip of "Hell March 2" — 173 KB

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Red Alert 2 Original Soundtrack is a soundtrack album containing musical tracks from the video game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, composed by Frank Klepacki and produced by Westwood. It was originally released in 2001. The soundtrack spans 16 tracks and has a duration of approximately 63:00.

The title track of the album is a rewritten version of the original Hell March from Command & Conquer: Red Alert.

Klepacki defined Red Alert 2's style with heavy metal guitar and fast-paced beats.[10] Klepacki scored the game with a Korg Tr-rack, Novation Nova Desktop, and Roland 5080.[11]

The return to high-energy songs was owed in part to fan criticism of Tiberian Sun.[12] Klepacki maintained the energetic style in Red Alert 2's expansion pack Yuri's Revenge.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3[edit]

The Music of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3
Studio album by Frank Klepacki, James Hannigan, Timothy Michael Wynn and Mikael Sandgren
Released 2008
Genre Video game soundtrack
Label EA
Producer EA

Composer Frank Klepacki returned to write three tracks for the game. When interviewed regarding the matter, Klepacki indicated a strong desire to contribute more, but admitted that due to the fact that he is no longer being employed by Electronic Arts and currently works for Petroglyph Games, this may be contractually impossible. At the RA3 Community Summit in June 2008, Klepacki showed a video to the entire C&C community in which he stated that he had been hired to work on Red Alert 3, and that he was composing Hell March 3, the most recent update of Red Alert's iconic theme.[13][14]

In November 2008, Crispy Gamer [15] reported that James Hannigan and Timothy Michael Wynn wrote the bulk of the game's remaining 114 minutes of music, with Hannigan composing the "Soviet March" menu theme along with music for the Empire of the Rising Sun Faction, and Wynn the music of the Allies and the remaining Soviet tracks. Music4Games has also covered the game's music score.[16]

The band From First to Last composed several remix versions of Hell March and Hell March 2, also featured on the Red Alert 3 soundtrack shipped with the Premier Edition.[17] The expansion pack, Uprising, scored mostly by James Hannigan and Timothy Michael Wynn,[18] introduced a new track called Yuriko's Theme by Hannigan, featuring two singers: Miriam Stockley and Satomi Morimoto. This theme was later remixed by Menno de Jong into a trance version, and it was later played at many great Trance festivals.[19]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Before the release of Command & Conquer, the majority of video games used MIDI files and other similar formats for music as a way to save space. Westwood was one of the first major developers to include actual audio files in their games. Although these recordings were generally of low quality compared to modern mp3s, many credit Westwood for helping to popularize the concept.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Command and conquer:Renegade, on IGN". 
  2. ^ Westwood Studios (2000). The Westwood Studios Catalog. Westwood Studios. 
  3. ^ a b Gwilym Wogan (2000-11-01). "Review of The Music of Command and Conquer". Soundtrack Central. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Klepacki, Frank (July 27, 2009). "Frank Klepacki: Behind the music of the first command & conquer". FaceBook.com. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  5. ^ Frank Klepacki. "COMMENTARY: Behind the Red Alert Soundtrack". frankklepacki.com. Retrieved 27 July 2006. 
  6. ^ Frank Klepacki. "COMMENTARY: Behind the C&C Soundtrack". frankklepacki.com. Retrieved 27 July 2006. 
  7. ^ a b c d Klepacki, Frank (4 August 2009). "Frank Klepacki: Behind the making of the C&C tiberian sun soundtrack". FaceBook.com. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  8. ^ "Game Trivia for Command & Conquer: Firestorm". MobyGames.com. 2008-11-13. 
  9. ^ "Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 Soundtrack". eMusic.com. 2008-11-19. 
  10. ^ The Logbook staff. "Review of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2". The Logbook. Retrieved 28 July 2006. 
  11. ^ "Frank Klepacki Interview (Yuri's Revenge)". Westwood Infiltration. 2001. Retrieved 28 August 2006. 
  12. ^ Josh Horowitz (2006-09-17). "Good to the Last Note". Adrenaline Vault. Archived from the original on 6 November 2004. Retrieved 27 July 2006. 
  13. ^ "Electronic Arts announces Red Alert 3 composer.". Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  14. ^ "Frank Klepachi - Exclusive Interview". Evo Gamer. 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  15. ^ "Behind the Music of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3". Crispy Gamer. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  16. ^ "Interview with Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Music Team". Music 4 Games. October 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  17. ^ "Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 (Premier Edition).". Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  18. ^ "Timothy Michael Wynn". Timwynn.net. 2009-01-22. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  19. ^ "Forums". Forums.commandandconquer.com. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  20. ^ "The music of C&C". FileFront.com. April 19, 2004. Retrieved 2009-08-07.