Music

Musical Analysis #2: Assassin’s Creed Revelation Song

Introduction

I will be analyzing “Assassin’s Creed Revelation Song”, composed by Lorne Balf and Jesper Kyd in 2011. There is very little information available about the development of this song and I struggled to find any reviews or references for it. I searched endlessly to find out where this song was composed at, what specific instruments were used, and who the singer is and could not find anything. However, I can provide some details on the composers and the styles of music they compose.

“Lorne Balf (born 23 February 1976) is a Scottish composer and producer of film, television, and video game scores.”(wiki, Balfe, 2020)

Jesper Kyd (born February 3, 1972) is a Danish composer, crafting scores for both films and videogames.

Because of the lack of information, I will be using my own detective skills, ears, and descriptions on musical elements to analyze this song.

Give it a deep listen….

Timbre

“To reflect the story’s multicultural setting of 16th Century Constantinople, Jesper Kyd crafted a rich and evocative hybrid music score drawing on Greek, Renaissance and Middle-Eastern instrumentation, while combining his emotional melodic writing and acoustic/electronic styles associated with the series.” (Genius, 2020)

There is a great deal of electronic and orchestral arrangements within this song. I can hear violins and cellos, which honestly add an incredible amount of feeling. Their deep and high tones draw one in. For this videogame especially, having a mysterious and pulling soundtrack is necessary to pull off the emotional climax of certain scenes.

I did some research on Middle-Eastern instrumentation and found some interesting ones . (I know some of these instruments, if not all, were used in the piece.)

I included links to videos to some of the Middle-Eastern instruments under their photos. Each video includes a sound demonstration.

3 Common Middle Eastern Instruments

Turkish Oud Folk Instrument Guitar Lute 11 Strings Made in Turkey Gigbag Set 4260448154895 | eBay
Oud
Riqq.jpg
Riq
National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka - Qanun - Cairo in Egypt - Made in the 1990s.jpg
Qanun

The oud has a very interesting sound and I really enjoy the way it resonates when musicians slide along the strings. I suppose my description of the oud would be that it has a twangy sound. Very Middle-Eastern.

The riq is somewhat new to my ears. While the average tambourine is not new to me, this one is. I didn’t realize the riq could make so many different noises at once. It is its own ensemble. I imagine an eastern marketplace, bustling with people and filled the smells of spices when the riq is being played.

The qanun is by far the most strange to me out of the three. Watching musicians play it boggles me. So many strings to memorize! They have an extremely tingy sound to my ears, and I imagine gypsy fairs when one is being played. Something about the strings and their vibrations just make me imagine gypsies.

“His scores use orchestra, choir, acoustic manipulations and electronic soundscapes.”(wiki, Kyd, 2020)

Within the overall song, the timbre of the different instruments, and the added electronic sounds create a contrast that is so unique from other scores I have listened to. Each instrument has their own sound and combined, they create something breathtaking. Balf and Kyd are genius’s.

Melody

The melody of this song is very unique. I was mesmerized throughout the entire thing and I have listened to it countless times. The gentle rise and fall of the main vocals, the chilling and haunting vocals of some distant being, (pay close attention to that part. I get shivers listening to it sometime) the steady beat in the background, and the slow but dramatic ending. After a few listens, the melody should be repeatable and you’ll be humming or singing the melody along with the vocalist.

Lyrics

I could not for the life of me find a lyricist for this song. Even though the song appears to have no “words”, rather just soulful and powerful vocal inflections, there is something in the song that tells me that there must be words behind that beautiful voice. I couldn’t find any information on the singer either. All these unknowns really add to the mystery and romance of the song. I could imagine the lyrics to this song and they would honestly be something very sad. Can’t you hear it? Words aren’t even really needed to explain the mood of the song. Sorrow is heavily implied here.

Range

The range of this song is rather large and I will say this is mainly because of the deep background and the high foreground. The vocalist makes some rather large leaps up and down in her singing and the choir at the end hits some pretty low notes. At the very beginning of the song, a rather high and wispy note plays and disappears. The vocalist comes in shortly after and takes the lead. All of our focus is on her voice as she sings the melody and leaps from one note to the next. I find it impressive that she maintains a clear and in-tune voice when dropping to one of those low notes. I seem to fall short a half step every time I try and sing the melody.

Dynamics

The dynamics in this song are incredible. The beginning is very soft, but it rises as the song progresses. When the singer comes in, her voice is soft but not quiet. Though, she changes dynamics when hitting certain notes, her voice trailing off in a diminuendo. The ending of the song ramps up quite dramatically with the full force of the vocalist, the instruments, and an added choir.

Conclusion

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about this song even if there wasn’t much to find on the internet. Assassin’s Creed: Revelation Song is something that after I heard once, I will never forget. I hope it will be the same for you.

References:

“Assassin’s Creed: Revelations by Ubisoft.” Genius, 2020, genius.com/albums/Ubisoft/Assassins-creed-revelations.

Wikipedia contributors. “Lorne Balfe.” Wikipedia, 24 Sept. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorne_Balfe.

Wikipedia contributors. “Jesper Kyd.” Wikipedia, 27 Sept. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesper_Kyd.

One thought on “Musical Analysis #2: Assassin’s Creed Revelation Song

  1. This is a super rad piece of music! I agree with a lot of what you said, especially about the vocal inflections contributing to the overall mood of the piece. Connecting your emotions to the piece was also very cool to read about, I agreed with all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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