Author: Bear McCreary

God of War Ragnarök: Valhalla

Kratos emerged onscreen, rowing a boat through a mysterious fog in the livestream of The Game Awards in early December, 2023. I heard thousands of shocked fans in the theater erupt into applause and smiled, knowing that thousands more were doing the same around the world. I felt a sense of mischievous euphoria, witnessing the worldwide gaming community learn about a secret I had been working on. (The last time I felt anything approaching this euphoria was in 2016, at the E3 presentation when God of War was first announced, and I conducted a live orchestra and choir in a rousing rendition of my new theme.) Valhalla would prove to combine intensely satisfying, procedurally generated combat experience with a thoughtful narrative that provided an emotional epilogue to the character arc of series protagonist Kratos.

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians

When my longtime friend and frequent collaborator Jonathan Steinberg called me to say he was working with author Rick Riordan to develop Riordan’s legendary Percy Jackson novels into a series for Disney+, I knew immediately the show would be visionary. I had worked closely with Jon in the past, including on the symphonically muscular Human Target and the jangling, heavy metal sea shanties of Black Sails, so I knew he would expect the score on his new series to be a confident voice in the storytelling. Working closely with my team of composers at Sparks & Shadows, we combined our creative forces and set out to craft a sweeping, lyrical, thematically driven score to support this epic tale.

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The Lord of the Rings: Episode 108

In this series of blogs, I explore the musical details of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. For a comprehensive introduction to my approach and my creative experience, start with my introductory four-part “Appendices:” Part 1 “Journey to Middle-earth,” Part 2 “Themes of Middle-earth,” Part 3 “Forming a Fellowship,” and Part 4 “There and Back Again.” I also blogged about scoring episodes 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, and 107.

SCORING EPISODE 108
“ALLOYED”

SPOILERS AHEAD: In the summer of 2021, I began scoring The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. In my original creative video conference with the showrunners discussing the premiere episode, I had one crucial question. “Where is Sauron?” That was the tightly guarded secret of the season finale, but the producers recognized my need for a complete understanding of the entire story.  They sent me the script to the final episode, “Alloyed.” My jaw dropped to read this episode, one packed with tension, drama, and revelation. I knew then, even before I had written a note of music, that I would need to tailor certain musical themes specifically for the shocking twist.

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The Lord of the Rings: Episode 107

In this series of blogs, I explore the musical details of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. For a comprehensive introduction to my approach and my creative experience, start with my introductory four-part “Appendices:” Part 1 “Journey to Middle-earth,” Part 2 “Themes of Middle-earth,” Part 3 “Forming a Fellowship,” and Part 4 “There and Back Again.” I also blogged about scoring episodes 101, 102, 103, 104, 105 and 106.

SCORING EPISODE 107
“THE EYE”

SPOILERS AHEAD: Arguably the darkest episode of the season, “The Eye,” the penultimate episode of The Rings of Power, plays as a meditation on loss and grief that affects everyone we have come to care about. Episode 7 contains several of my personal favorite dramatic moments of the season as the characters, seeking one another amid destruction, strengthen their ties and loyalties. 

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The Lyrics to God of War

Sony PlayStation’s classic God of War franchise journeyed from Ancient Greece to Norse myth, telling the story of Kratos and his young son Atreus, in an epic saga spanning two games, God of War (2018) and God of War Ragnarök (2022). I composed two scores to support the narrative, drawing influence from the soaring orchestral overtures of Hollywood and the rustic melodies of Nordic folk music. The most striking sound in both scores is the human voice, ranging from evocative solos from Faroese singer Eivør Pálsdóttir and multi-platinum artist Hozier, to massive full choir passages featuring Iceland’s celebrated choral ensemble, Schola Cantorum. Their unique voices are even more distinct because the lyrics were written in a dead language, Old Norse.

In my previous God of War blog entries, I alluded to the team of dedicated artists and writers who collaborated with me to create the lyrics for these scores. Here, I hope to chronicle the meticulous attention to detail and ambitious scope of their work. I will also, at long last, share the lyrics and translations that fans have been clamoring for. This is the story behind the lyrics of God of War (2018) and God of War Ragnarök (2022). (Spoilers for both games lie ahead.)

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