Friday, September 16, 2016

Nathan McCree debuts material from The Tomb Raider Suite - extended versions of "A Friend Since Gone" & "The T-Rex"

Nathan McCree is in the process of preparing The Tomb Raider Suite, the first commercial release of the music from Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider II & Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft, as part of the 20th anniversary of the franchise. Recorded by a live orchestra, the album is set to feature approximately 70 minutes of reworked and extended versions of McCree's most popular tracks from the first three Tomb Raider games. oday via SoundCloud the composer has released extended variations of two demo tracks:

"A Friend Since Gone and The T-Rex are currently in their reference file state. Both tracks have been extended to around 3 minutes in duration. The MIDI files have been exported and the tracks are now ready to be sent to the orchestrator who will prepare the full score for the conductor and the librarian/copyist." - Nathan McCree

The orchestral re-recording of McCree's music will be presented in the compilation album, The Tomb Raider Suite, first debuting as the 90-minute Tomb Raider - Live In Concert on December 18th, 2016. Full press release after the jump.

Update: McCree has also released the demo for "Vertigo", also in its extended form (October 11th).

The Tomb Raider Suite Preview: “A Friend Since Gone” and “The T-Rex”

Original franchise composer Nathan McCree has been contributing to our 20 Year Celebrations in a big way after announcing his nostalgic album and concert earlier this year.

The album – The Tomb Raider Suite – will include reworked and extended versions of his most popular tracks from the first three Tomb Raider games recorded by a live orchestra, coming in at an estimated 70 minutes.

Tomb Raider: Live in Concert will unfold in London on December 18th. Several bonus tracks will boost it to a 90-minute concert, pairing music with images from the Tomb Raider classics. Tickets are available to purchase now.

At Gamescom this past August, McCree debuted two reworked tracks that will be performed by a live orchestra later this year – “A Friend Since Gone” and “The T-Rex”. Both tracks are now available to listen to on his Soundcloud account, and provide insight into the process McCree is currently in the thick of. Learn more about the making of The Tomb Raider Suite and Tomb Raider: Live in Concert below.

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.

What stage in development are “A Friend Since Gone” and “The T-Rex” currently in? What are the next steps for these tracks?

McCree: A Friend Since Gone and The T-Rex are currently in their reference file state. Both tracks have been extended to around 3 minutes in duration. The MIDI files have been exported and the tracks are now ready to be sent to the orchestrator who will prepare the full score for the conductor and the librarian/copyist.

Can you share the inspiration behind “A Friend Since Gone”?

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.

And what was the inspiration behind “The T-Rex” ?

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.

Tell us more about the upcoming concert!

McCree: The concert Tomb Raider: Live in Concert will be held at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London on Sunday 18th December 2016. The show will feature the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Robert Ziegler, playing music from The Tomb Raider Suite and extra music which will be written specifically for the live show. The show will include synchronised lighting and a giant video screen showing game-play 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 me on stage at the Apollo in the afternoon before the show. Tickets can be purchased here.


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