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"A Moment's Weight" by Jeremy Hardin (Part 3 of 3)

Killzone 3 Recording Sessions at Abbey Road Studios


In September of 2010, just after Joris completed the in-game portion, (a whopping 55 minutes of music) tragedy again touched his world.

Joris lost his mother.

If you ask him if his music changed, he'll hesitate before answering. But his answer is strong when it comes.


And then, "Of course."

The remaining music to be composed was for the cinematic portions of the KILLZONE 3, and for the opening menu. This was the music that would be recorded with a live orchestra rather than created digitally.

On 19 October, 2010, Joris began a break-neck schedule of seven-day weeks. He slept an average of four hours per night, ate intermittently, and mostly only left the house to walk Sadie. (A wet nose and a wagging tail do not understand deadlines.)

The cinematic portions of the game are key scenes where the story moves forward: moments where characters emote, and grow, or where events take an unexpected turn. And when it came the menu music, the initial expectation was for it to be energetic and imposing; very much in keeping with the earlier Killzone games.

After some consideration and sketching, however, the piece took an unexpected turn of its own.

Some would call the piece poignant. Perhaps it's the solo violinist layered over the string section. But by all accounts, the menu music was shaping up to be unique in the Killzone series. Early listeners have described the piece as inspiring, moving, and even epic.

Finally, exactly one month after Joris began composing for live recording, and over a year after beginning work on the AAA title, Joris and the team met at Studio One, Abbey Road.

Early on 19 November, the energy and tension are palpable.

Jonathan Williams conducts. Behind the glass, Joris traces along the paper score with his finger as it is played.

The session is a nine hour marathon, divided into three hour segments.

The musicians have sandwiches beside their instrument cases. Between takes, they snack, or take drinks from water bottles. And you can hear their excitement for the pieces as they converse. The cimbasso player rarely gets such bold notes, for example. Those around him nod in agreement. The air feels almost electric, even into the evening. Hour upon hour of work has funneled into this place, at this time. Bows dance over strings in unison, and the members of the brass section slide plungers in and out; the conductor moves to the music with visible energy, animated by the notes that Joris has composed.

It's a breathtaking sight, entirely matching the stunning depth of the music being performed Because while you're seeing it, watching it with literally bated breath, the sound hits; right in the chest. Abbey Road, Studio One, shapes the sound, spinning the volume and distilling it with wooden panels and measured distances.

When the final piece is being recorded, the menu music acts as the end cap to one of the most emotional periods imaginable. This music is the piece that changed along the way. The booths are quiet during the two takes it requires to get the music down. The last notes are played, and Jonny Williams slowly lowers his arms and says nothing, leaving a second or two of silence at the end of the recording.

Behind the glass, we're holding our breath.

And then laughter. And clapping. Sam pushes the heavy door open, walks to Joris, and hugs him. I can see the joy on his face. And not just because of the way the music is being received. The performing musicians had only compliments to say about it. But no, Joris looks contented.

The engineer turns around from his lights and his dials, opens his mouth to say something to Joris, then closes it and smiles, too.

If you ask Joris what it was like to record live at Abbey Road, he'll grin. Will he tell you about the long hours inherent to any creative process? Of the year of joy, and of grief? No. Joris is a quiet person when it comes to such matters.

And how would he tell someone why something means as much as it does? How would he attach the weight of life's best and worst events to a single moment in time?

I think Joris would say that it's about expectation. Expectation delayed, and denied, and hindered. But finally, expectation delivered.


On 19 November, Joris de Man and the team recorded 32 minutes of live orchestral music. In the following days, they recorded the choir and solo violin. On 26 November, they delivered the edited pieces to Guerrilla games. The recording was produced by Rich Aitken and recorded by Abby Road Engineer Andrew Dudman.  Jonathan Williams conducted the orchestra and oversaw the score copying with the assistance of Irene Anderson.  The 5.1 Mix was completed by Rich Aitken at Nimrod Studios, with additional percussion overdubs by Joris de Man.  Marc Canham produced the choir recording, and Abbey Road Engineer Sam Okel recorded. The choir was conducted by Jonathan Williams.  The Orchestra was brought together by Principle Bass Player and Fixer for the Nimrod Studio Orchestra, Stacey Watton.  KILLZONE 3 for PlayStation 3 will be available in the USA on 22 February, and in the UK on 25 February, 2011; the Soundtrack is released the same week on the PlayStation Network and included in Collector’s and Helghast editions of the game.




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