Expect something a little different from the musical score to Bungie's next video game, Destiny. Penned by longtime Bungie composer Marty O'Donnell and partner Mike Salvatori, Destiny's soundtrack has been shaped by two factors: a collaboration with Paul McCartney and the fact that O'Donnell was asked to score a game that did not yet exist.
O'Donnell says that Bungie COO Pete Parsons came to him early in Destiny's development and asked him to start writing. "I need more meat," O'Donnell said, hoping for something — a trailer, a documentary — to write music against. But Destiny was a project in its infancy, lacking in gameplay moments that could serve as inspiration.
So, O'Donnell said he began writing based solely on Destiny's ideas, stories and artwork.
The result was nearly an hour of music written to foster inspiration within the development team. "I dumped 50 minutes of music on them and said 'Deal with that. Make a game as good as that,'" O'Donnell joked.
Destiny's early score was recorded at Abbey Road Studios. O'Donnell collaborated with Paul McCartney on Destiny's music for the better part of two years, trading ideas, bits of melody and themes back and forth.
"He didn't only want to do Paul McCartney music. He wants to get involved in themes, how melodies and motives can be a touchpoint for people."
O'Donnell says he believes McCartney was drawn to the project by his interest in the technology behind interactive music. "I think he saw how big the video game industry is and he's the kind of person who wants to create wherever he can contribute."
"My first meeting with him, I was giving him some ideas about the cool ways to do interactive [music]," O'Donnell said, "and I compared it to the way he did some of the work he did on Revolver with looping machines, [on the song] 'Tomorrow Never Knows.'"
"He said 'I'm gonna get that machine out of my closet and send you some stuff,'" O'Donnell recalled. "And he did. So, some of the stuff that he did in our game ... comes from the machine he used on Revolver to make loops. That is just so cool."
O'Donnell is also Bungie's audio director, and says that the goal with Destiny is that every sound, "every footstep, every crunch, every bullet impact, every shield impact," would be created from scratch. Bungie's audio team, he says, are working in the foley studio and in the field with microphones recording the raw materials for their new universe.
While we didn't hear much of the foley being created for Destiny, O'Donnell did play a handful of tracks from the game, a sampling of which may be heard in the game's first video documentary. O'Donnell says the soundtrack is full of themes, though he's not sure which will emerge as Destiny's signature, hummable theme.
That may emerge over time, he says, as "we still have more work to do."
For more on Bungie's plans for Destiny, read our feature preview.