CASE STUDY

Fable 2 OST - 'Wraithmarsh'

Title: Wraithmarsh
Orchestrator/Conductor: Allan Wilson
Performed by: Slovak National Symphony
Recorded at: The Slovenský Rozhlas
Choir: The Pinewood Singers, Tiffin Boys’ Choir
Engineer: Peter Fuchs
Mixed at: Phoenix Sound, Pinewood Studios

Orchestra:
Strings (VN1 : VN2 : VA : VC :  DB): 14 : 12 : 10 : 8 : 6
Harp
Horns (4)
Tuba
Percussion (cymbals)

Synths:
Omnisphere
Kurzweil K2500

Wraithmarsh from Fable 2 is possibly one of the most terrifying regions in all the Fable series.
Originally designed to be a barren, dark and soulless ghost-town of a place, Charlton Edwards, the level designer for the region, happened upon a model for the destroyed bridge in Oakvale from the original Fable and the idea was born that Wraithmarsh should actually be the corrupted remains of the once beautiful, colourful and charming Oakvale village from 200 years ago – known and loved by so many of the fans of Fable 1.
Roaming these wastelands was a host of evil and benign creatures, most notably the Banshees – silently floating, macabre women with hooded faces buried in their hands – which, when revealed, turned demonic accompanied by a blood curdling scream. 

All the elements were now in place to start composing the accompanying music for the region. It obviously had to be dark and menacing but I also wanted to represent the banshees  with some kind of synth design behind the orchestral instrumentation.
I also wanted to give the track a childlike nursery feel which I’ve always found works really well over a more sinister backdrop and makes the nostalgia of Oakvale even more heartbreaking. Designing this level to be vaguely recognisable as the remains of Oakvale gave me a good opportunity to add to that nostalgia by weaving the Oakvale theme into the score at some point.

It’s fair to say that the orchestration in this piece is almost exclusively atmospheric, using strings, horns and tuba to create a dark ambient backdrop to any melodic motifs that feature. The first of these melodies is in the harp which plays a simple, cold sequence, over a run of sustained notes in the violas which portamento to each change to add to the eeriness.
At 0.27 I bring in the choir singing dissonant chords. Using only the ladies of the Pinewood Singers and the Tiffin Boy’s Choir gave a haunting texture to the chords and added to the childlike, nursery quality of the track.

Hands up who knows what chord this is

I added two further melodic motifs – the first at 1.17, played on the music box -an instrument that has almost become a hallmark of the Fable series – and the second at 2.41 which is the Oakvale theme I talked of earlier played over a ‘Jaws-esque’ cello.  This is very closely followed by the the boys repeatedly singing Vir Credo’, which was my closest (very rusty) latin translation of ‘Hero, believe in yourself!

I mentioned earlier about trying in some way to represent the Banshee scream into the track. I used a variety of custom patches in Omnisphere and the Kurzweil K2500 to create some very atmospheric wail-like cries which can be heard at 1.03 and 1.36, 2.32 and 2.50, also adding in a bowed gong in various places.

Download 'Wraithmarsh' MIDI file

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