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Well Connected: Martin O’Donnell

Martin O’Donnell talks to John Broomhall about a date with Destiny (and a certain British music legend) ahead of his forthcoming appearance at London’s Game Music Connect event on 9 September.

THEORIGINALXbox console represented a giant leap for audiokind. Technically it afforded a great deal of power and potential for game music, sound, and dialogue compared with its predecessors. But perhaps more importantly it seemed to be the poster child for a general raising of the creative bar – from now on, games would have much more high-concept, high-fidelity surround sound. Undoubtedly, Bungie

Games’ Martin O’Donnell was at the pioneering forefront of this movement with the now iconic Halo series.

HALO TOOK THE GAMING WORLD BY STORM. WHAT DID YOU TAKE FROM THE EXPERIENCE? We knew we were working on something special back in 1999 when we presented Halo to the world with Steve Jobs. I really wanted to set the audio bar as high as possible, especially when we found out we would be part of the

50 August 2013

launch of Xbox in 2001. Having surround sound in people’s living room was a big reason for our striving for quality. The fans respond to quality.

ONCE AGAIN YOU’RE RIGHT AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF VIDEOGAMES WITH YOUR LATEST TITLE. TELL US ABOUT DESTINY… Since Halo 1, we’ve always tried to push further in our quest for quality. Destiny gives us a chance to create an entirely new palette of music and sound design that will hopefully, for us at least, raise the bar once again. The game itself expands on many of the gameplay innovations that are core to Bungie’s history, and also pushes into some new areas. I’m looking forward to sharing some of the new things we’re creating as an audio team.


This is probably the most unexpected thing that has ever happened to me. Yes, we are collaborating with Paul McCartney on creating music for Destiny, and also a stand-alone music project called Music of the Spheres, which will come out before the game. This music is not a game soundtrack but will look forward to the world of Destiny to come. Paul was interested in expanding his creative abilities into an area that he’d never really worked before, and we had the honour of being the ones he chose to work with. It has been an absolutely amazing experience for us.

WHAT PRO-AUDIO GEAR DO YOU RELY ON DAY TO DAY? Bungie has been able to build seven different audio studios currently in house. All are based around a Pro Tools DAW and ’Wise as our game audio engine. We’ve got some great outboard gear and all the plug-ins we could desire.

Our mics are pretty nice too, and one of our studios has four Foley pits.

WHAT BRINGS YOU TO GAME MUSIC CONNECT IN LONDON AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO HEAR YOU TALK ABOUT? I’ll be sharing my experiences of being a composer in the game business, working as an Audio Director for Bungie, and perhaps a bit about what it’s like to actually work on music with Sir Paul.

“Destiny gives us a chance to create an entirely new palette of music and sound design.”

Martin O’Donnell

SAVE THE DATE 9 September, South Bank Centre, London

Game Music Connect is “a live game music symposium celebrating and exploring the amazing music of video games and the extraordinary talent behind it – for game music fans, aspiring and pro-composers, and anyone learning about creating videogame soundtracks. It will feature the multi-award winning maestros of such global hits as Destiny, Halo, Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed, Dead Space, James Bond 007: Blood Stone, Harry Potter, Killzone, Littlebigplanet, Mass Effect, and Command & Conquer. In addition, senior audio directors and platform holders’ central music management will discuss music in the development process from soup to nuts.”

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