Jeremy Soule's Skyrim soundtrack was one of my favorites in recent memory. I've been a huge fan of his work since he entered the videogame industry with his soundtrack to Secret of Evermore at the young age of 19, and he's since gone on to score some of the biggest games in the medium, including Guild Wars, Harry Potter, and The Elder Scrolls.
He's now taking the next step in his career by attempting to write a classical symphony titled The Northerner which will be released on CD. As the name would suggest, the piece is inspired by the same energies he focused on while writing the soundtrack to Skyrim, although it’s not directly related.
Along with the announcement, Soule has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project with a modest goal and some great rewards. We've been fortunate enough to have an exclusive chat with Soule regarding The Northerner and also have an exclusive sample for you to hear. Check them out below as we list five reasons why you need to support this project.
1) A soundscape similar to Skyrim
In Jeremy Soule’s own words, “This is not a sequel to Skyrim, but rather a continuation of that energy.” It sounds as though Skyrim had a profound impact on Soule, and the setting of the game, specifically the far north, has resonated with him.
“I spent a lot of time in the Canadian Rockies and the North Cascades. It feels like an escape whenever you head north in life,” commented Soule when talking about doing some first-hand research on the theme that will guide his first symphony. “I spent enough time while working on Skyrim exploring the mythos of that game and wanted to start reading about real-world mythos. I explored the natural beauty and sciences of the Northern Lights, the self-reliance of Inuit people, and the great Nordic tradition.”
In terms of specifics, Soule reveals, “I’m trying to make something as aesthetically beautiful as possible, paying attention to every detail. My goal is to create something that is uplifting and has a spiritual dimension that breathes, moves, and has reality to it.” The work will contain four movements and will clock in somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes. There will be a choir featured as well as vocal soloists with lyrics in English.
2) Kickstarter as a shared investment in art
Soule tells us that creating a Kickstarter campaign to fund The Northerner is a “Creative decision.”
“The symphony is a collection of people on the floor playing instruments. Those people are connected to other people who helped them get to where they are. Instrument craftmans, educators, supportive family members. Without a lot of love and affection we wouldn’t have the symphony. It’s really a Huge achievement in collaboration. In order to reach out in this way and say, ‘how would you like to help make the bricks, mortar, wood, and materials to build this structure?’ That’s a great focus of energy.”
Jeremy Soule will not be pocketing any of the money from the Kickstarter project, and funds are being used solely to prepare the rewards and book the orchestra that will be involved with the recording of the work. Soule wants fans to have a stake in the creation of this art. “The symphony is about people, and I want people to experience it as it comes into this world, as I hear it.”
3) A modest goal and great rewards
The funding goal for this project is $10,000, and I’ve already mentioned where that money will go. There are five different funding tiers as follows:
$15 - You will receive an autographed CD copy of the Soule Symphony No. 1,"The Northerner” recording.
$50 - You will receive a personalized autographed CD copy of the Soule Symphony No. 1,"The Northerner” recording.
$100 - Reward 2 plus a special thanks credit in the album’s booklet.
$500 - Rewards 2 and 3 plus an autographed bound copy of Soule Symphony No. 1, "The Northerner" conductor's score.
$1,000 - Rewards 2, 3, and 4 plus page one of the conductor's manuscript written entirely in the composer's hand. Marking a moment in history, this is the ultimate display item in 11"x17" museum quality paper and ready to be framed. This item will only be available to Kickstarter participants and will never be produced again.
4) Supporting a composer’s true expression of self
I’ve always wondered to myself why my favorite videogame and film composers aren’t more active in writing work that comes from within themselves, inspired by their own imagination. It seems odd to me that they can so effectively score a project and nail the thematic content perfectly, yet don’t have an outlet that is purely from their own life experience, liberated from the scenes that unfold on a screen.
Soule concedes, “A symphony is the hardest thing you can write as a composer. You set yourself up for ridicule if people don’t like it, and some composers have ended careers or even lives because they weren’t able to make people happy in the concert hall.”
In other words, this is truly a labor of love and an extension of a composer’s soul. The reason it’s not attempted more often by modern composers is because it’s risky, not only in terms of time and possibly finances, but also professionally.
“I wanted to tackle this in my 20s, but I didn’t have the life experience. I’m now in my latter 30s and have enough experience and knowledge.” The Northerner has literally been in the works for nearly 25 years, as this has been a goal of Soule’s since he was 12 years old.
5) The right guys as inspiration
How often do you hear the names Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, or even Nobuo Uematsu as an inspiration for today’s composers?
When I asked who some of Soule’s classical inspirations were, I got Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, and Strauss. “I want to feature tonality,” noted Soule, “My goal is to create a piece that people want to listen to over and over again,” to which we both laughed that he has a lot of experience writing music that’s listened to repeatedly through his work on games.
I am incredibly excited to hear what Jeremy Soule is able to come up with based on his preference for the Neo Romantic period in classical music. It will be interesting to hear how it draws from both this period as well as from his thematic energy from Skyrim to give us something truly unique.
We apparently won’t have to wait too long, as the Kickstarter page is already live and he’s already begun work on the symphony. “The work is obscured in a fog in my head at the moment, but there are clear patches in that fog,” and we’ll hopefully be getting a taste of that very soon.
Let us know what you think. Is the traditional symphony an art form worth saving? Will Jeremy Soule’s beloved works in videogames act as a bridge to bring a new generation to the symphony? The success of Soule’s Kickstarter campaign will answer these questions for us very soon, so join me in my support for the Soule Symphony No. 1 “The Northerner.”
Here's the audio clip in higher quality via our SoundCloud account: