Music Through History: Civilization VI Soundtrack

Music Through History: Civilization VI Soundtrack

Sid Meier’s Civilization series is a videogame that serves as a history teacher and strategy simulator, this requires a big a mount of research from the developers in order to deliver the most precise records from the most important events in human history, from the prehistoric age to modern times.

In Civilization VI one of the key aspects of the whole game is the music, not just because of how it helps with the inmersion but the way every nation has its own original soundtrack

Geoff Knorr’s Soundtrack

Civilization VI’s soundtrack is the work of Geoff Knorr, an american composer, orchestrator, mixer engineer and sound designer. He was highly praised by his work in Civilization games since 2014’s Civilization V.

My entry into games is fairly recent. As divine providence would have it, I was interning at a Baltimore recording studio and Firaxis came to that studio looking to record choir for the Civilization IV: Beyond The Sword Expansion Pack. I was able to provide the music transcription and score preparation as well help find singers from the Peabody Institute for the recording session. Afterwards, I kept in contact with Michael Curran and Mark Cromer, two of the audio guys at the time at Firaxis, in case a place opened up for me — which did happen in October of 2008. Civilization V is my first large video game project — most of my prior compositional work has been in concert music. Even today I am trying to stay active in both music for media and music for the concert hall.

Geof Knorr

The way the game works is that you choose one leader, for example, Ghandi from India, and when you start the game you begin your adventure at 4000 BC, this also marks the begining of the music’s evolution throughout history.

Every specific soundtrack has 4 versions throughout a single campaign, these 4 versions spread out through 9 eras:

  • Ancient Era (4000 BC)
  • Classical Era (1600 BC)
  • Medieval Era (120 ~ 200 AD)
  • Renaissance Era (1100 ~ 1200)
  • Industrial Era (1625 ~ 1675)
  • Modern Era (1840 ~ 1860)
  • Atomic Era (1920 ~ 1950)
  • Information Era (1960 ~ 2000)
  • Future Era  (2020 ~ 2050)

Another subtle yet impressive feature of Civ VI is its soundtrack…The music reflects the state of the world, mirroring the evolution of your empire as you enter new eras. The CIV VI soundtrack has become one of my favourite video game soundtracks of all time…and excels in making the gameplay more immersive and helping you to feel as if the world really is growing before you.

Press Start Australia

There is also an interesting idea which is that there is two different playlists for war and peace, for each of the four regions in order to maintain a grater sense of inmersion and tension when things between nations aren’t at their best.

Great Inspirations

There’s a wide range of big classical compositions that can be found in the game, and this is a trend that has been present in all of the games throughout the series, at least as much as it can be. Nowadays there are bigger budget for videogames and bigger soundtrack possibilities as it is with Civilization 6.

Once again, some great “classical” orchestral music can be found in these playlists — compositions by Copland, Holst, Mahler, Grieg to mention a few — and we wanted to retain this from Civilization IV, as long as it fit the mood we were trying to create. The mood was most important to us — we had a very specific idea of what the soundtrack should sound like, and the leader music was being written to match that vision. In Civilization V, we integrated this leader music into the playlists in a very cool way, and expanded the depth of the playlists in doing so.

Geoff Knorr

It’s a rich game with rich music that surely deserves high praise and wether you enjoy playing the game or not, it’s soundtrack is worth listening to.

Arturo Riera
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