Friday, November 30, 2012

The Sound of Survival: Jason Graves announced as composer for Tomb Raider (2013) in episode 3 of the "Final Hours"

The rumours were true! Today the Redwood City based studio Crystal Dynamics profiles BAFTA winning Jason Graves as the composer responsible for the music to Tomb Raider (2013), set for worldwide release on March 5th, 2013.

Community & Communications Manager Meagan Marie exclaims that the community figured it out months ago; she details the news at the Tomb Raider blog. Graves, sound designer Jack Grillo and music supervisor Alex Wilmer are all interviewed by Final Hours host Zachary Levi; watch the third instalment of Final Hours below:

The Final Hours of Tomb Raider - Episode 3: The Sound of Survival

"First thing we did was the theme. There have been many composers in the games or the films, but they've always used the original theme. They [Crystal Dynamics] said we want to start with a clean slate; new theme. I did it on piano, very simple... I was really scared just to send it because I was like "I don't know, I think this really works, I think I like it". We ended up taking that exact theme, the first demo I sent, and it was on the first trailer. That exact same arrangement." - Jason Graves

Follow the jump for a full transcript and press release. Expect to hear an exuberant amount of detail about the Tomb Raider soundtrack in the coming months!

Full transcript:

Zacahary Levi: So Jason, currently you're working on this re-imagining of Tomb Raider. When you're taking on a new project, what are some of the things that attract you to that project? The heritage of a particular game I think, obviously.

Jason Graves: And don't even get me started on Tomb Raider. I literally almost drove off the road - I was on the phone with the audio director "Oh! Stop light!" and I had to pull over a little bit to not hit the car behind me. What I loved about Tomb Raider, what really drew me to the project, was they had no pre-existing conditions.

Zachary Levi: Because they wanted to get out of what it used to be.

Jason Graves: Because they wanted something new; they wanted something fresh.

Jack Grillo: Jason's done hundreds of games at this point. He was an easy choice for us to go with on paper because he has such great experience. I listened through a lot of different material from a lot of different composers. I was really taken by how well he did the intimate stuff, the textures and the real intimate and vulnerable bits that we needed to highlight in the game were a great match for us.

Zachary Levi: What is square one for you when you start wrapping your head around and going; "this is where I feel like this world is going to exist"?

Jason Graves: Main theme. Call me old-fashioned. Then it was a matter of finding out what kind of percussion would work, and always going back to the melody and the theme, because that's the heart of the game.

Jack Grillo: The most signature thing that we need to get right is Lara's theme. One of our big goals was that it could be used in any emotional context. What does it sound like high-action? What does it sound like when she is pain?

Jason Graves: For music, the game-play and the concept art, especially with the scavengers and shanty-town, corrugated metal... how everything's kind of just amalgam of different stuff that they found on the island. That's what I want the music to sound like. The bad guys are playing the music now. Alex [Wilmer] said something like "it'd be really cool to have chains on a metal board, or banging a metal fence...".

Alex Wilmer: Two weeks later Jason calls me up, and he's like "So... this guy who's like this sculptor who lives right around the corner from me... I was talking to him about the idea of creating an instrument". And I'm like "that sounds completely insane! We have to do that!".

Zachary Levi: Tackling the score to one of the most iconic franchises in the world brought a unique challenge: how best to capture the emotional timbre of the characters and island in music. People, I give you the instrument:

"The instrument", by Matt McConnel, Sculptor

Jason Graves: The instrument; I was gonna let Matt determine the aesthetics, I was really only concerned about the sounds that the sculpture was going to make. Matt built this [bow] which looks like pretty much exactly like Lara's original home-made bow in the game. There's different timbres based on different materials; metal, glass... it's a direct line from the plot, the characters, the story, the environment - straight to the sculpture.

Alex Wilmer: We always wanted the island to have that character in itself. Creating an instrument gave it this unique identity, this voice.

Jason Graves: The beginning of the game is nothing but the instrument.

Zachary Levi: Who do you look at in video games or in film that you go "what they've done shaped who I am and what I do for a living"?

Jason Graves: They're all dead unfortunately.

Zachary Levi: What!

Jason Graves: Yeah I know! It's classical composers.

Zachary Levi: All classical?

Jason Graves: Yeah I'm kind of going directly back to the source; Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky... even for some of the scarier stuff you've got Penderetsky who's a polish composer. Actually he's still alive! It goes back to ballets, or opera. Which is kind of the precursor to film and video game - they were telling a story. That's what I love about that kind of music; it tells a story. Even if you don't know the plot you can listen to it. And film music's the same way.

Jack Grillo: It's tough with games to do things that are subtle. We want to make Lara relatable and realistic. Tell her story from the beginning and show how she became the superhero she becomes.

Jason Graves: One of the first things I ask any developer is the emotion. Because to me that's the biggest thing that music can do in a tenth of a second. The music just [snaps fingers] nails the emotion.

Zachary Levi: Well, that was amazing. I personally don't think I've ever sounded so good in an interview before. Although Jason, Jack and Alex are audio savants... that would make perfect sense. I cannot wait to jump into this game. Not just for the amazing action but the emotion and mood and tone that they're going to set with their incredible skill. Tune in next time for a special secret announcement that is going to change the way you play Tomb Raider forever.

Full press release via Top Dollar PR:

BAFTA award winner profiled in latest episode of The Final Hours of TOMB RAIDER

SQUARE ENIX and Crystal Dynamics today announced that Jason Graves, an award winning composer with an outstanding pedigree across film, television and gaming is penning the original score for TOMB RAIDER.

Graves' involvement is revealed in the third episode of The Final Hours of Tomb Raider. In The Sound of Survival, host Zachary Levi escorts viewers to the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) London headquarters, and speaks to Graves about his role in the reboot of the iconic Tomb Raider franchise (BAFTA has previously recognized Graves' work for Original Score and Use of Audio in Dead Space).

The composer reveals his vision for the game's soundscape and speaks about infusing atmosphere, emotion and authenticity into Lara's origins story through his musical score - and illustrates his search to find the perfect sound for the game, through his collaboration with sculptor, Matt McConnell who created a bespoke and wholly original instrument to aid Graves in bringing his unique sound to Tomb Raider.

In keeping with the tradition of Geoff Keighley's signature THE FINAL HOURS series, viewers can gain a deeper, behind-the-scenes look at what Graves has to say by checking out this episode:

Click here for the latest episode:
Click here if you missed episode 1:
For more information on Tomb Raider:
For more information on Jason Graves:

The TOMB RAIDER franchise has sold over 35 million copies worldwide and inspired one of the most successful video game film adaptations in history, grossing over $300 million at the global box office with protagonist Lara Croft becoming a contemporary global icon. TOMB RAIDER is in development for a multi-platform release, and is slated to launch March 5, 2013.


  1. Jason Graves says on his "Jason Graves Music" fb page: "Ask and ye shall receive. Thanks for all the interest!"

    Here it is:

    Score sheet of Main theme from Tomb Raider (2013)



Thanks for taking your time to visit MoTR! Feel free to leave a comment. We'll do our best to respond to enquiries, tips or requests.