"SOVNGARDE SONG"

Thirty-three. That's how many versions of this song exist. When I say obsessive I mean, "Ok, this guy is a little messed up in the head" obsessive. I was literally working on it all day every day and all night every night. Inon Zur once said that making great music was 20% talent and 80% hard work. I'm inclined to agree with him; it's a trade like any other and you learn it through practice, grind and dedication. Spare a thought for video maker Justin Clouse who was getting bombarded once or twice a day with emails titled "Ok, sorry, this should really be the final mix," only to get the same email again a few hours later. Even he was working on the video right up until a few minutes before it came out. A lot of love went into this song!

I tried to plan and organize it but in the end the melody just popped into my head in the shower. I knew it needed to have a Nordic, folk-like quality to the vocal and wanted something 'epic' sounding and classical for the music. I researched some old Viking chants, folk metal and old Scandinavian folk music (which was an absolute pleasure, there is some wonderful stuff out there). Basically it was all about the vocals - the harmonies were what would give the song its Nordic feel.

The idea with the song's musical arrangement was to try and evoke the game's two biggest activities -(well, two of them, a song about crafting iron daggers would quite likely somehow not have had the same emotional punch) exploring the huge gorgeous landscapes and the in-your-face brutal combat. All fairly simple, really.

Some of you with keen ears noticed the song sounded a little brighter - more sparkly and a little more professional than my previous work. This was due to the new music software I spent my every last penny on. Kontakt is a program that lets you play realistic orchestra sounds on your keyboard and it has completely changed the way I make music (you'll see another example next week). It's immensely gratifying to have an orchestra-like sound at your fingertips and I genuinely got shivers the first time I listened back to the middle section of the song when it crashes into the faster, celtic sounding string riff.

Lyrically, the song seemed to confuse a lot of people. It was just meant to describe the Nord way of life and attitudes throughout history, which was misinterpreted by many as a pro-Stormcloak song. But it is not political at all, it is completely neutral. I can see how it could come across as pro-Stormcloak, as they talk about the same stuff as thier political angle, but no - it is simply a song about the Nords in general, and about the Dovahkiin learning to use his Thu'um. The Stormcloaks' motivations aren't as black and white as preserving the Nord way of life and neither is the song.

The hardest choice that I (helped by a few trustworthy friends and the Escapist staff) had to make was which of the final two versions to use. There was a longer version (which is now on YouTube) and the shorter version which went up first, on The Escapist. The reasoning here was that most of us (me included) felt a five minute song was probably too long-winded for most people's musical attention spans. Personally, I like both versions, they each bring something different to the table and both work equally as well to my ears.

The reason the YouTube version went up earlier than usual is because in the first 2 days alone, six or seven people had already uploaded it to their channels with no credit to me (one guy even claimed he'd made it himself and was responding to comments with "thanks" and "I worked real hard on it"). We can get them taken down but sometimes by the time I find them they have tens of thousands of views, so my only way to really combat it this time was to have the offical one on my own channel.

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