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  The Music of C&C
This Page has been viewed 97,260 times

The Music of Command & Conquer
by: John Eckhardt,
April 19th, 2004

In the beginning, and by the beginning I mean the first Command & Conquer game, Westwood Studios had the insight to include real music with their game. Up to this time, all the music in games had been MIDI files and that type. Mostly this was to save space, and the music wasn't the most important part of the game. Westwood started on this new path of having audio files akin to mp3s for the music. Now, these files were low quality, but the fact that they were actual recordings greatly improved the quality over the MIDI files. A brand new step in sound production definitely highlighted Tiberian Dawn and brought the series into popularity.

Now that I have mentioned sound quality, I will discuss the quality of the music. First, Tiberian Dawn with it's revolutionary score included voices in many of the tracks. Now, if you've played the game, you notice that there aren't any voices in the music, but in the CD soundtrack there are. Frank Klepacki, the composer of the music initially included the voices, but it was decided that the voices sounded too much like actual unit selection sounds, and might confuse people, so the voices were edited out. Also, the music tracks were only one channel, so the quality wasn't as high as the mp3s of now.

As the storyline of Tiberian Dawn was written from scratch, the music could be any theme. Frank chose to go with a varied feel in the music. The tracks range from full out hard rock of Warfare to the ambient sounds of Voice Rhythm, with everything in between. Frank's favorite track is the Fight, Win, Prevail, which starts orchestral and turns into a rock piece. How can you not remember the song Radio when you hear it? As you were put in the front seat of commanding armies in real time for the first time, the music helped bring the feel of power. Also, for those commando missions, there were tracks with a sneakier feel. If you have a mix editor, and have poked around in the CD a bit, you'll find that there are about seven other tracks which were written, but not included in the game.

My favorite tracks from Tiberian Dawn:

# ingame name (website name)

  1. Just Do It (Just Do It Up)
  2. Demolition
  3. Radio
  4. Take 'em Out
  5. Mechanical Man
Listen to these at Frank Klepacki's Website.

Red Alert was not a continuation of Tiberian Dawn, but a whole new storyline. Building on the success of Tiberian Dawn, Westwood expanded the Command and Conquer series into a story set in the past. This led to a different style of music, toning the music from rock to a more techno feel using industrial sounds. While the music remains upbeat, it has more of a gloomy feel to it. There are a lot of tracks which are almost spooky. Also, Red Alert's music explores some new territory in some dance music: Arazoid, jazz: Fogger, Floating, Bog, and almost classical: Face the Enemy 1 and 2, Run For Your Life. Red Alert implemented an interesting way to use the music. In the missions, you started in the first mission with three tracks, and every time you beat another mission you got the next track available. Even on the final mission, the Soviets and Allies didn't have all the same tracks, as some were only playable when you were the Soviets. Also, the main theme of Red Alert is Hell March, which was featured on MTV! For the record, what the guy says in Hell March is "We want war, wake up!"

My favorite tracks from Red Alert:

# ingame name (website name)

  1. TwinMix1 (Twin Remix)
  2. Bigfoot
  3. Crush
  4. Vector
  5. Floating

Listen to these at Frank Klepacki's Website.

Tiberian Sun continued the storyline of Tiberian Dawn. They gameplay was advanced, and the music tracks did not reflect the previous game of Tiberian Dawn. Instead, Westwood decided to go for a more ambient feel, which is reflected in all of the tracks. Everything is quieter and brooding. I suppose that when you are playing on a Tiberium-covered world, it is rather hard to have rock music, so Westwood went for the apocalypse feel. Not all of the Tiberian Sun were written by Frank Klepacki, but some were also written by Jarrid Mendelson, who also composed the Ordos music for Emperor: Battle for Dune. Most of his music has a synthetic sound to it; not in the quality of the music, but the sound type. However, when Firestorm was produced, there were quite a few tracks which were hard rock, which was a good change, and Frank Klepacki composed all of those tracks.

My favorite tracks from Tiberian Sun and Firestorm:

  1. Mutants
  2. Pharohtek
  3. Killing Machine
  4. Deploy Machines
  5. Approach

Listen to these at Frank Klepacki's Website.

Red Alert 2 was created to extend the Red Alert universe, although it didn't have as many links to RA1 as Tiberian Sun had with Tiberian Dawn. It brought stereo music! One of the major changes was it used a completely different style of music. Almost all of the tracks were hard rock with a straight forward drum beat and many distorted guitars. I think it was a huge change, and a change for the better. The gameplay of RA2 is much faster than Tiberian Sun, so it deserves faster music. The famous Hell March from Red Alert was upgraded into HM2, or Hell March 2, but it didn't get as much publicity, as many other games were following Westwood's example, so HM2 was not as ground-breaking. Still, it is one of my favorite tracks. Yuri's Revenge continued in the RA2 vein, at least musically, and included many more great tracks. I introduced a non-computer-game-playing cousin of mine to Red Alert 2, and it soon became her favorite game, with one of the top reasons being that "the music was awesome!" Who can disagree?

My favorite tracks from Red Alert 2 and Yuri's Revenge:

  1. Blow It Up
  2. Jank
  3. HM2
  4. Phat Attack
  5. Ready The Army

Listen to these at Frank Klepacki's Website.

Renegade was a first person shooter set in the world of Tiberian Dawn, so you would expect Westwood to stick with the Tiberian Dawn music, and indeed they did a good job of it. Rather than copying the Tiberian Dawn music exactly, Frank Klepacki crossed the music of TD with the rock of RA2 to create "sequal" songs. Therefore, most of the pieces are upgrades from the music of TD. While all of the music is rock, there are many different varieties in the intensity level of the pieces. Some of the music has horns and kettle drums you'd expect to hear in a spy movie. Others, like "Command & Conquer" are more focused on the heavy rock type. Renegade used a different style of playing the music. There were tracks for each mission, which replayed over and over. They are well written, so the do not get boring. Having only one track per mission led to the use of Boss music, like "Sakura Showdown" and "Raveshaw's Act on Instinct."

My favorite tracks from Renegade:

  1. Ammo Clip
  2. Sneak Attack
  3. Stop Them Again
  4. Renegade Jungle
  5. Mech Man's Revenge

Listen to these at Frank Klepacki's Website.

One could only hope to see what Frank would be coming up with next, but Electronic Arts bought Westwood and disbanded it, so now Frank Klepacki works freelance.

Generals was a big step away from the previous Command & Conquer titles, and thus required a big step away from the previous Command & Conquer music. Thus, EA hired Bill Brown to compose the music for a game more focused on the modern world. The game implemented units based on modern day military vehicles, so the music is also more "modern." There are three sides, each of which has it's own music that fits it's nationality. The USA's music has a modern military feel with strings, China has music that is "China sounding" with one of the main elements the flute, and GLA has middle-eastern music with rock infused into it. This also uses a set track order, so I do not have any favorites from it, but the feel of each side's music is not stereotypical, but what you'd expect from that side. It is well done.

Listen to some Generals tracks at Bill Brown's Website.

Now that I've covered all the different games, there is something that I'd like to point out. You can really tell that all the music from the first five C&C games (save part of TS) was written by Frank Klepacki. He has included a theme in at least one song from each of the C&C games, which are in these following songs:

  • Tiberian Dawn: No Mercy
  • Red Alert: Credits theme (Reload Fire)
  • Tiberian Sun: Approach
  • Red Alert 2: HM2
  • Renegade: In The Line of Fire [In The Line of Fire (Remix)]

After hearing the theme in the Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert, I was constantly listening to the next game's music to find which song had the theme in it. There may be more songs with the theme in them, but I do not remember them right now.

Music in the Command & Conquer series has changed over time, generally fitting the style of gameplay in the games. It started with the ground-breaking Tiberian Dawn music, and is currently at the impressive, almost movie style Generals music. I have high hopes for the music we'll be seeing in the next Command & Conquer games.

Average User Rating: 7.3
Number of Votes: 82

User Comments  
The following comments are owned by the user that posted them. Command & Conquer Files is not responsible for their content.

Total comments: 4 | Last comment: 11-22-2007 at 13:01

 #1 - 08-13-2005 at 20:44
From: (New Jersey)
Joined: May 1st, 2005
Posts: 98
Congradutions. Its looks really good, you are indeed the best article writier, no matter what the awards say, you are. Btw, what took you more then 1 year to actualy finish this? wink

 #2 - 08-20-2005 at 14:05
Joined: June 6th, 2003
Posts: 20
I agree that the C&C series has some of the best music you can find in video games. Frank Klepacki is a GOD! Its just too bad he doesn't do the music for the C&C series anymore. Bill Brown is ok, he makes good music. But to be quite honist, while some of the music in generals is highly enjoyable, it doesn't really fit into the C&C series in my humble opinion.

 #3 - 06-13-2006 at 10:56
Joined: November 12th, 2005
Posts: 124
frank klepacki did a great job and i have all the tracks from cnc and emperor battle for dune on my iaudio x5 ^.^+ some other tracks from some other games
idk that the ordos music was done by someone else, but the tracks are icy-cold (just like ordosis)and idk if frank have done something like that.
the track you can here in the cnc 3 trailer (called stomp and done by frank klepacki) is absolutely one of my favorite tracks. on cnc radio you can hear it sometimes and you can also hear it on franks website. it is featured in renegade.
many of the tracks in generals are enjoyable but they don't beat the original ones and I wan't frank to come back, certainly those tracks steal cnc-feeling from generals imo.

 #4 - 11-22-2007 at 13:01
From: (delft)
Joined: November 12th, 2006
Posts: 247
just to let you know, i think generals music sucks. especially american music. mad

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