Journey Composer Austin Wintory to Write Music and Score for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
The Assassin’s Creed series has always been known for an eclectic blend of musical influences, with the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Syndicate to employ the talents of the Grammy Award-nominated composer Austin Wintory to score the latest installment of the series.
Ubisoft announced that Wintory will compose the music and score of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, with a detailed interview posted on the company’s blog revealing much of Wintory’s inspiration behind the music for this fall’s Syndicate, with Wintory explaining that he has indeed been “a long-time player of the franchise” up to this point.
Specifically, for Wintory’s work on Syndicate he detailed how the characters and the city of London itself were serving as large inspirations behind his process, explaining in detail:
“The score could be attributed to two primary sources of inspiration: the personalities of Jacob and Evie, and the fascinating, contradictory world of Victorian London. With regard to the twins, they have this wonderful confidence, almost arrogance – particularly Jacob. Their mannerisms were a very crucial insight for the music, because it gave us permission to approach the score with a bit of fun and even sarcasm. For these two, a fight against virtually anyone does not represent a genuine life-or-death epic battle. It’s more like a cat playing with a mouse, and macabrely enjoying the dance. And that’s why you hear the waltzes! I rather obsessively channeled different styles of dance, with the waltz in particular, throughout the score to create that sense of ease – that Jacob and Evie are somehow, in their minds, above anyone who would dare cross them.”
“The setting, London itself, is also important, but I didn’t aspire to create a period score in any real way. It’s more that London then was simultaneously this beacon of progress, of the promise of a truly amazing economic future, and yet also home to horrendous cruelties and disenfranchisement. I tried very diligently for the score to try and capture, and even reconcile, those two elements to make London beautiful and grimy at the same time.”
Wintory also elaborated further on the city and setting of Syndicate‘s Victorian-era London in the interview, and addressing his thoughts on whether gamers would be familiar with the period’s music or not:
“I honestly don’t think much about what people may or may not know of music at that time. I would be very surprised if any gamer were to say that they expect the music to be authentic as a prerequisite to their enjoyment. And besides, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has never really preoccupied itself with that in the past, given the present-day story that couches the individual historical stories. On the other hand, making an arbitrary choice to play against the setting could be quite disruptive. Say I had chosen to score it entirely with avant-garde ’60s European electronic music? In that case, I think people would notice and not too flatteringly. So you have to walk the line.”
“Chamber music of the mid-19th century definitely inspired me, but I did not seek to make the score authentic – at least, aesthetically. One of Lydia’s wonderful ideas for the game was the incorporation of legitimately authentic folk tunes and hymns into the score, as melodic fragments you constantly stumble upon. They’re heard throughout London and played by various street performers, so it’s similar to the sea chanties from Assassin’s Creed IV. We saw to it that they bleed rather deeply into the score as well.”
Further in the interview, Wintory also briefly described what the recording process has been like, along with the process of choosing the right instrumentation and performers for Syndicate:
“I’m a bit of a sucker for string soloists, and I was delighted to work with two world-class musicians for those roles on this one: Sandy Cameron on violin and Tina Guo on cello. I also worked with a staggering group in London for the core ensemble work, consisting of strings and a few assorted winds, all beautifully captured at Abbey Road Studios. At the end of the day, though, I chose those instruments and performers not because I love them, but because they felt right for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. If it had seemed like something boldly brassy was the right idea, as in a score like The Banner Saga, I would have gone that route. So forgive me for dodging the question, but I love every instrument!”
And as a final humorous note to close the interview out on, when asked what Victorian London-era instrument he would like to assassinate a target with, Wintory replied: “If Evie gets a cane sword, does that mean I can have a conductor’s baton dagger?” Hopefully for Wintory, that’s exactly the right weapon he would need.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate releases for PS4 and Xbox One on October 23rd, 2015 and for PC on November 19th, 2015.