Last year during the Film Music Festival in Krakow Arkady from TrailerMusic.info and I had the chance to sit down for a while with Marcin Przybyłowicz, Composer and Music Director for the back then already highly anticipated video game “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” by CD Projekt Red. If you don’t know anything about the game, you get a very good idea by watching the game’s opening cinematic that came out 2 weeks ago. Just follow this link.
We never got to publish it during the festival and since The Witcher 3 came out last week we thought it’s just the right time to share some insights into the music world of The Witcher with you. We mainly spoke with him about what defines The Witcher’s soundtrack and how it influenced its trailers’ music. While reading what Marcin had to say about it you can listen to parts of the score below. Two trailers you can find on Youtube: “The Sword of Destiny E3 2014 Trailer” & “Killing Monsters Cinematic Trailer“.
We are trying to find our own path in fantasy soundtrack music. The whole Witcher universe is unique to Western viewers. It’s very common for us Slavs or people from Central Europe because it partially comes from our pre-Christian mythology. But Western viewers from England, Spain, France, US, Canada and so on. They don’t know [the myths], so it’s exotic to them. [It’s like] mythology from the Far East [for us] for example. It’s so oriental because it’s different. We believe that The Witcher’s universe with its storytelling and narration is unique enough to have its own musical identity. We think The Witcher universe deserves that.
When we started working on the Witcher 3 we decided to try to redefine it. [We said:] Let’s draw a line here and come up with new ideas. CD Projekt Red had set the tone with the first Witcher how it would sound like. With the second one it went more for Western, epic symphonic [musical influences] because the story demanded that. These were really big stories about kingdoms fighting each other, about assasinating kings, big armies marching and conquering etc. Basically the large political intrigues. Geralt our protagonist is thrown into the middle of that and tries to survive his way through.
With the third Witcher we are going back to the roots with a very personal story of Geralt. We introduce Ciri who is really important especially for those who read the books. So we knew that we had to try to reflect all of this in the music [including the] Slavic elements. And when we actually found that ‘golden formula’ as we like to think about it, we decided that it wouldn’t be fair for our fans to promote The Witcher with [other music like Rock Music or epic orchestral music] because it wouldn’t be consequent. It’s all about consistency so it’s like doing a game about the Far East, with Samurais etc., and presenting it in the promo material with cowboy music. You would feel that it doesn’t feel right. So we felt that the same case is with the Witcher and therefore we are doing trailer music inhouse. We of course use music that Percival recorded for us exclusively so we are still able to maintain this Witcher factor in our soundtrack and – at least I hope so – still keep it modern enough so viewers can relate to that and actually like it. We want to do a game for the players not for ourselves because after all they are going to judge us, they are going to buy our game and we need to honour them, not us. So we wanted to combine those two worlds which seem to be entirely different at first sight: This folk element which is not very present in todays music with this instrumental, illustrative, sometimes epic – if it needs to be – element and combine it and create something we think would be best for The Witcher.
Marcin, who has attended the Krakow Film Music Festival since its second edition will be again among the festival’s Special Guests. This year he will be part of a panel discussion about composing for video games on Thursday, May 28th, alongside Trevor Morris, Dan Licht, Jason Hayes and Mikołaj Stroiński.
You can find out more about Marcin Przybyłowicz on his website as well as on Soundcloud, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. More videos about CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher you can find on Youtube and on the official website.