Minecraft fans have something to look forward to this week, as new official soundtracks for the sandbox game’s Greek/Chinese Mythology and Battle Mode expansions arrive on December 21.
Ahead of that, composer Gareth Coker has shared a few of the moody and atmospheric tracks on his Soundcloud page. We’ve embedded a sampling of the tunes below. The Interactive Academy award-winning composer also did the music for Ori and the Blind Forest and Ark: Survival Evolved.
“4J Studios has really given me a huge creative tableau to work with, which I suppose is fitting given that this is Minecraft,” Coker said in a statement. “It was also wonderful to work with a team that supported live music, as the vast majority of work on these three albums contains live musicians.”
Coker also shared some insight into his process for composing the songs.
“When writing music for Minecraft Greek and Chinese mythologies, I tried to keep the music fairly restrained and in keeping with the general pace and feel of the original game, but emphasizing the cultural and historical elements that these mythological settings bring to the table,” he said. “We end up with a mix of live orchestra, solo ethnic instruments, and pulsing background synth elements to help keep the player engaged. The main difference between the two is that the Chinese Mythology has a stronger emphasis on melody and traditional instruments, while the Greek mythology is overall a little more ambient.”
You will notice that the Minecraft Battle Mode songs are very different, stylistically, and that makes sense given the subject material.
“It is a lot faster-paced and contains a great deal of excitement, to help match the gameplay in these mini-games,” Coker said. “4J Studios were particularly keen on having melodies and riffs play throughout these mini-games, and that’s where the emphasis lies in the music here, as well as matching the huge variety of settings, which vary from fantasy, to steampunk, to the wild west, and more.”
Coker also spoke about the unique opportunity he has with Minecraft to write music for an incredibly open-ended game. There are also challenges associated with this, he said.
“One of the most enjoyable parts about creating all this music–and it’s not something that happens too often for composers for film, TV, or games–is being able to create music that isn’t necessarily tied to a fixed narrative,” he said. “This is actually its own challenge, as having a fixed narrative & picture can make decisions a lot easier, instead of having a blank canvas! However, as a result, I think I’ve been able to create tracks that have a natural ebb/flow and while enhancing the in-game experience.”