The Music of Civilization

We all know what music I’m referring to here – the marvellous and uplifting Baba Yetu choral music that greets you in Civilization 4. I don’t know how much it cost Firaxis to commission and record that music, but it gave Civ 4 a priceless sense of grandeur.

Civilization has always had an odd soundtrack. 4000BC starts with generic ‘tribal’ music that, after a few thousand years, changes into more martial ‘Roman’ music, then perhaps some ‘Gothic’ music. When you finally reach the Renaissance, you get some decent melodies from classical composers, but the era is sadly too brief and you end up with weird modern classical music until 2100AD.

They’re supposedly improving things for Civilization 5, but frankly I don’t think that the soundtrack is at the top of their priority list, and I have a bad feeling that they won’t be calling upon Christopher Tin (Baba Yetu’s composer) again. It was lucky they called him at all – it seems the collaboration is partly down to the fact that Soren Johnson, Civ 4’s lead designer, once roomed with Christopher Tin at Stanford.

Anyway, I’m a big fan of Christopher Tin’s music, so I’ll keep this post brief and leave you with some of his finer pieces (not just Baba Yetu, which I’ve written about before):

Civilization 4 Intro Movie, with a piece called ‘Coronation’.

The Dubai Fountains, set to the music of Baba Yetu.

Kia Hora Te Marino, a companion piece of Baba Yetu from Tin’s new album, Calling All Dawns.

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