Nathan McCree (composer of the original first three Tomb Raider titles) will be going to release a collection of all his classic compositions, as well as extensions and variations of original tracks from the first three games later this year. Alongside the album, a live performance will be held at London this December.
The Tomb Raider Suite
Nathan McCree is going to create 'The Tomb Raider Suite' - an all-new album based on his original music from the first three Tomb Raider games.
The collection will include all the original fan favorites, plus extended versions of many pieces, performed by a live orchestra and recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. In addition to a CD/digital download release, there will be a 90-minute live performance performed live by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at London's Hammersmith Apollo conducted by Robert Ziegler, playing music from The Tomb Raider Suite and extra music which will be written specifically for the live show. The concert will be held Sunday the 18th of December 2016 at 7:30 PM. The show (which will be compèred by Shelley Blond, the original voice of Lara Croft) will include synchronised lighting and a giant video screen showing gameplay footage and other images from the franchise. There will be special guest appearances, a signing session with the fans and hopefully an after show party. Also, all ticket holders are invited to attend a free Q&A session with Nathan on stage at the Apollo in the afternoon before the show.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for the fans, as well as me, to hear the music as I had always intended it," said McCree, who will also host a pre-concert event to discuss his work on the project, and with the franchise.
The entire process—from composition to concert hall—will also be the subject of a documentary entitled 'Tomb Raider: Remastered', produced by David Burns of Eden Films and directed by Matthew Longfellow, who has previously documented such music legends as Pink Floyd, Metallica, Blondie, and Queen.
What is the process of revisiting and extending the original Tomb Raider I-III tracks for The Tomb Raider Suite?
McCree: First of all, I listened again to all the music from Tomb Raider I-III. I picked out the most famous and the most liked tracks, and also some of my favourites from the series. I focused on tracks that were 30 seconds or longer, although I did also pick some shorter cues. I then prepared a spreadsheet with all the tracks listed with their original durations. The plan is to extend each piece that is under 02:30 to at least 03:00. I have given myself a schedule of 3 days per track. The Tomb Raider Suite will consist of about 65 to 70 minutes of music and Tomb Raider: Live in Concert will have about 85 to 90 minutes of music. I usually write about 1 minute per day, so 90 minutes will take me about 90 days. That will take about 4.5 months if I work 20 days per month on the project.
With each track, I load up the original MIDI file which I made when I first wrote the music. I then set up all the instruments on the outboard synthesizers (the same ones which I actually used back in 1996) and adjust the balances, panning and effects until the mix sounds virtually identical to the original tracks which I recorded at Core Design 20 years ago. Then, if the track is under 02:30, I start adding new sections in the same style – sometimes creating variations on existing material, sometimes writing completely new melodies and harmonies. When the newly extended track reaches at least 03:00 in duration I start to tidy up the loose ends and polish the production – making sure that any new sections flow seamlessly in and out of the original material.
I then label all the parts and tidy up the sequencer session in readiness for an export of the MIDI file. I also record the monitor mix of the track which the orchestrator uses as a reference for tone, texture, and dynamics.
Preview (monitor mixes)
A few tracks have been published from the album on Nathan's SoundCloud page. You can also listen them here:
McCree: I had to reinvent this piece quite a bit because the original duration was quite short at just 00:53 seconds. So I imagined an elaborate story and extended the original piece to fit. The new piece describes the following events, inspired by the opening scene of the very first Tomb Raider:
- 00:00 to 00:16 Lara sees her guide friend lying on the ground after being mauled by wolves and approaches him.
- 00:16 to 00:32 Lara examines her friend’s wounds and although he’s still alive she realises he will not survive the attack.
- 00:32 to 01:04 Filled with sadness, Lara fondly looks into the eyes of her, still alive, friend and remembers the times they’ve had together.
- 01:04 to 01:36 Holding back her tears Lara looks to the sky in search of an answer to her friend’s predicament.
- 01:36 to 01:58 Returning her attention to her friend, Lara holds him in her arms and watches him slowly fade to his death at 01:56.
- 01:58 to 02:14 Lara gently lays her friend down on the ground to rest.
- 02:14 to 02:31 Unable to hold back her tears, Lara breaks down and weeps for her friend.
- 02:31 to 02:51 Lara regains her composure, stands up and looks towards the entrance of the cave - her next goal.
McCree: There was a little less work to do with "The T-Rex" as its original length was 01:43. I felt that the original piece already had a lot of high energy material in it, so I decided to add a new section at 01:36 which describes Lara hiding from the T-Rex. At 02:20 I introduce the Tomb Raider Theme as Lara jumps out from her hiding place with guns blazing – somersaulting and rolling to dodge the T-Rex, eventually killing the beast at 03:01.
McCree: When I wrote Vertigo back in 1996, I just wanted to create a sense of space. I know from climbing myself, that you become so focused on holding onto that wall, that all other sensations seem to disappear. So I wanted the music to reflect that. As it happened I was so short of time when I was writing the music for Tomb Raider that Vertigo ended up as just a very simple and uncluttered variation on the Tomb Raider Theme - but, it did have the space I was looking for. There was enough sonic room to enable the listener to focus on the task ahead.
When it came to extending Vertigo for The Tomb Raider Suite, I wanted to focus more on the vulnerability one feels when climbing up a sheer rock face. So I wrote a new middle section for the piece which features deep pizzicato bass accompanied by a very delicate harp pattern and some long, high, searing violin chords. Together this provides the vistas and the vast scale of the rock climbs that I was imagining for Lara.
I am very happy with this extended version of Vertigo - it is much closer to what I was intending to write 20 years ago, but didn’t have the time to complete.