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The Longest Journey OST: The Music of Stark and Arcadia

February 24, 2013 in Articles, Media, Music, The Games, The Longest Journey, Thirteen Chapters articles

>> WARNING: minor spoilers for The Longest Journey ahead! <<

The Longest Journey OST

I want to talk a little about The Longest Journey‘s original soundtrack (OST). One of the most important things that hooked me on the game, even from the first time I saw the trailer, was the music (composed by Bjørn Arve Lagim).

tlj_soundtrack_banner

For reference while reading this article, and also for a great musical experience, you can download the full soundtrack right here. Completely for free!

Fairy Tales

I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets nostalgic when hearing crotales or a glockenspiel, or any other kind of light metal percussion being played. The dreamy metal sound reminds me of music boxes I listened to when I was a child. There are two that I still remember vividly.

The first one was at my aunt and uncle’s farmhouse. It played Send In the Clowns and featured – you might have guessed it – a dancing clown! I was lucky enough to find a video of the exact same music box here on YouTube. Oh my… look at him go!

The second one I still have at home. It was my dad’s aunt’s. A little watermill that starts spinning and playing music when wound up. How far you wind it up determines how fast the song is played, which always results in a very long decline in tempo before it stops. I both hated that and loved it.

I’m not surprised by the fact that these kinds of instruments often are used for fairy tales or fairy tale-like stories (Harry Potter, Once Upon a Time). For many people they’re tied to a time in their lives when magic still existed and fairy tales were far more than ‘just’ stories to us. Perhaps there’s even something in our nature that makes the sound feel mysterious and pleasant.

Main Titles

The same music box sound I talked about above is the red thread through almost all of the main titles in the The Longest Journey. Although both the game and the The Longest Journey OST don’t start with this track, I think it’s one of the most iconic ones in the game. It introduces us to the mystery and grandeur of the Guardian’s Realm and sets up a very ancient and religious atmosphere. The music box sound screams “fairy tale”, the choirs preach beautifully to the listener and the flowing string orchestra brings weight to the piece.

MainTitles

A World of Science

The last 30 seconds of the Main Titles track gives us a sneak peek into Stark, the world of science. Somewhat equal in grandeur, we start off with a deep drum hit that echoes on throughout the city of Newport. This is soon followed by the sound of metal. Not the magical sound from before though. It’s rougher, and more violent, like a chainsaw cutting through a freight ship.

But inside this large metal city of machines a girl is sleeping, dreaming of fairy tales. And thus the sweet sound of the music box returns, sneaking in a little bit of magic into a world ruled by science.

Newport

When April wakes up again and walks outside, we get a proper introduction to Stark (or Venice, to be specific). We see thick smoke, enormous buildings and large metal vehicles. More harsh metal sounds are heard, and that’s continued in the Venice track on the The Longest Journey OST.

Marcuria & The Northlands

Soon after April has landed in Arcadia, when the doors of Marcuria’s Temple of The Balance open, there’s grandeur once more. This time we don’t get bombarded with deep drums and metal objects. This time we’re greeted by a friendly and melodic flute, slowly being carried by flowing waves of orchestral strings and brass. There’s magic in the air, but this is no fairy tale. This is reality at its best.

NorthlandsMap

Although Marcuria is one of the largest city in Arcadia, it’s only a small part of the world. It resides in the very south of The Northlands. Going up and outside of the city walls means going into more ‘uncivilized’ territory. Deep sounding, war-like drums and low, wooden wind instruments make up the pallet of these primal lands. But despite being a long way from civilization, some can’t help but feel a sense of belonging while being there…

The ‘Ancient’ Jukebox

Making a journey as long as April’s requires a little bit of relaxing at times. Before there was the possibility of the Journey Man Inn’s very own Comfy Chair, one of April’s favorite places to relax was the Fringe Cafe.

fringe-cafe

Aside from the occasional bands playing there, the cafe also had a jukebox. A real original, according to April’s boss Stan at least. After some convincing, Stan had agreed to put the jukebox on free play. It had five different tracks to choose from: Winterland, Dragon, Dolphin, Eagle and Shark. These, exclusing Winterland were composed by Tor Linløkken. They perfectly created a futuristic, loungey atmosphere and made the Fringe Cafe really feel like a cool place to hang out in.

The Road Back

Just like in the title of the score that’s playing right after the end of April’s journey, you can put yourself on a road back to the wonderful times you had in The Longest Journey. The Longest Journey OST can be downloaded from this site right here. Be prepared for some great flash backs!

Your Opinion

What did you think of The Longest Journey’s soundtrack? Did you have a favorite track? Leave a comment below.

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9 responses to The Longest Journey OST: The Music of Stark and Arcadia

  1. I adore and listen to songs from this soundtrack often. “Eagle” and “Winterland” being among my personal favorites. Nice article.

  2. The reason why this soundtrack sounds like it does is – ofcourse because of some great sequencing and choises of melody, mysterious chording and great accentuation -. But a huge part of the “haunting” timbre of this soundtrack is due to the nature of the sound pallette it uses. This happened because it’s all “sample library of the 90s” based. A whole lot of 90′s stuff like spectrasonics symphonic voices and distorted reality was used. And some of the best sample libraries for orchastra at that time were miroslav or peter sidlacek’s libraries. You can especially hear how the title song makes use of the soprano vibrato voice /Solo Boy chanting patches, which sound very haunting already if you play it solo. It’s mixed in such a way that it really sounds well with the strings melodies and many sound effects that this era of sample cd’s brought forth.

    The reason why it sounds so much “from beyond” is because at that time you didn’t have legato scripts and samples that ensured the reproduction of smooth transitions between notes played by a symphonic instrument like strings or horns). 13 years ago, computers and samplers just didn’t have the memory or power to do this. It was the musician/sound engineer’s job to create artificial swelling and decreasing of sound to make it sound as natural as possible given the restrictions of early days of sophysticated sample libraries.

    That, in combination with the specific harmonic flavor created by multiple samples with minimal keymappings (only 2 variations per octave) glued together creates well.. the sound of draic kin breahthing in musical form basicly.

    This is in Stark (pun intended) contrast with what Leon Willet could work with no more than 5 years later. You already had much more advanced sample libraries from east west or VSL (vienna Symphonic Orchestra). Both sounded more “organic”, were recorded by the library vendors with much more feeling to anticipate for play styles and thats why the dreamfall OST is sounding more orchestral, but less “haunting”.

    That’s not to say that the melodic quality is less haunting, I’m talking purely about sound color palette here. Because Leon Willet surely had some strange “john Williams” – ish sequences into his tracks, Waticorp and the underground city are pure bliss to listen to.

    Sorry for all the technical jargon. I was just trying to explain it, viewing from the evolution of sample based technology that I’ve gone trough myself during my “musical carreer”

  3. The music in this games is wonderful! The game would not be the same without it.

  4. That was really interesting analysis, Cosmic! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Cosmic, do you have any of the original samples you could share with us?

  6. Thank you thank you thank you for the soundtrack, been trying to get it for ages…. :)))))) awesome!

  7. @Pirateguybrush

    I don’t have that exact library anymore (the one with the soprano phrases that they uise in this soundtrack). I got a virtual instrument from them now but I don’t believe these phrases are included. But those haunting male/female choir pads are.

    Recently (inspired by the new game’s announcement) I started to make a song and I wanted to make it sound like the TLJ OST, new melody but the same types of samples.

    http://support.spectrasonics.net/data/Audio/Demo/Legacy/SOV-Tenor_Demo.mp3

    This is a demo from symphony of voices.

  8. Yes! That was a really cool bit of information there =)

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