Halo Music Outtakes Part 1
By Matt Soell and Marty O'Donnell
June 21, 2002
For years, movie aficionados have bought laserdiscs and DVDs, not only for their superior reproduction of the original film but also for the cavalcade of bonus features. In some cases you can see how the final movie differed from the original script, or see an alternate ending that was cut because an illiterate test audience wanted big explosions instead of big words. But it's rare to hear an alternate soundtrack for the movie, or hear musical pieces the composer discarded or abandoned before they were finished. This week, Bungie's audio overlord Marty O'Donnell graciously gives you a peek behind the curtain at some of the music that didn't make it into Halo.
"During the course of working on music for a project the size of Halo, many musical ideas and 'sketches' come into being," says Marty. "Some of these little recordings go on to develop and mature into full-fledged produced works, and many don’t make it past puberty. While I was putting together the Halo Soundtrack CD, I came across several of these 'children' that I had at one time loved enough to record. Some are good, some bad, some laughable, some interesting, but none in what I would consider a 'final' form." Of course, Marty's fans are always up to hear new O'Donnell compositions, "finished" or not. After the tremendous response to our interview with Marty, which drove our soundtrack sales well beyond our initial expectations, we knew the public would love to hear some "rougher" material from the same sessions. We persuaded Marty to share a handful of them with the public. (Keep in mind, however, that these are all still copyrighted TotalAudio productions, so all the usual laws apply.)
Battle Sketch: "A pretty horrible initial improvisation that actually grew up into a nice piece eventually." Methinks Marty is being too modest here. The only complaint you can really make about this piano piece is that it is too short.
Fast Sketch: "Too many notes. Not enough time." An even shorter piece suffused with propulsive energy.
Tron: "Named for the mellotron string sound that comes in towards the middle. A sort of cool piece that probably belongs in some other game." Marty has been known to go on at length about the Mellotron at the office, and here he gives full rein to his obsession, paying homage to vintage musical instruments in an otherwise "futuristic" piece. This ain't the Moody Blues.
Strings Sketch: "Variation on the Halo theme. An interesting meandering improvisation that never found a reason to be expanded upon." Again, Marty's not giving himself the credit he deserves. Any opportunity to reexamine the mournful, mysterious Halo theme is time well spent.
Old Stuff: "This one actually made it into the game, sort of." Caution: The opening bars of this track may cause you to shout "NO...SLEEP...TILL BROOKLYN!" so be prepared. This half-minute track showcases Marty's more rockin' side, as well as his long-standing love of the life and work or Ozzy Osbourne.
"That's it?" you cry? "You can't stop there! You must have more in the vaults. What about that 'Halo Love Theme' we've heard so much about? Give us more!" Well, there is more – including the (in)famous "Halo Love Theme" – but we figured you'd need a little time to assimilate this first batch of outtakes. Check back soon for the next installment.