The Breach

Made by Ivan Wang

An epic theme composed for the Dragon Age: Inqusition trailer.

Created: December 3rd, 2014


For my final composition, I created a theme for a trailer of Dragon Age: Inquisition. My goal is to capture the scale and depth of this epic fantasy world and the drama of war with my composition.


The trailer features breathtaking aerial shots of the world in the midst of battle, and a band of heroes fighting back evil creatures from beyond the breach. As the trailer begins, I start with a crescendo (beating drums, choral voices, and a slow dark theme). It then builds up to a fast and action-filled tempo for the fighting scenes. The climax arrives with the appearance and banishment of the giant ogre (0:50-1:00), and also at the end when the dragon breathes fire (1:15).



For this piece, I chose many orchestral instruments and samples to achieve a dramatic effect. Quick ostinato strings applied a repetitive rhythm to add urgency, while brass and drums echoed the sounds of battle and war. The key is in c minor for a sensation of dread.

The piece is introduced with a low drum and chorus (0:05-0:10) to set the tone. From 0:14, I crescendo in the instruments of the main theme, starting with strings, bass, an original drum patch, and finally two experimental patches. The last two add an eerie feel (0:30-0:36) that reflects the nature of the otherworldly green "Breach." Right before the battle at 0:38, I use caesura (a brief pause) to heighten suspense.

The chorus returns at 0:39 to add drama throughout the battle, and new instruments are introduced: more brass for harmony, a counterpoint horn, and a cymbal. The dynamics are much louder, and the beat syncs with the axe strike at 0:43 and the ogre's appearance. At the climactic banishment of the ogre (1:00), all but the chorus drop out for a final eerie note. At 1:04, the music dies down to just ostinato strings and drums and finally slows (ritardando) to the dragon fire (1:15), which ends the piece.


I began by watching the video on mute and getting a feel for the tone I wanted to create. I listened to other epic soundtracks for inspiration, such as Hans Zimmer and Audiomachine, and researched which timbres created the best effect. After finding orchestra samples and creating a few patches for the low thrumming drum and eerie notes, I worked on each section of the video, syncing the rhythm (one of the most challenging parts). I incorporated feedback from student comments, addressing the problem of transitions between the two climaxes by making the second lead up less dramatic. I also added sound effects and beats to sync with moments in the trailer (for example, crackling fire, the flap of the dragon's wings, and a low drum when the ogre stepped), as suggested in class.


I believe I achieved my objectives of creating an epic composition-- the choral and orchestral samples really bring out the drama in the piece. While I was unable to find good sound effects for all parts of the trailer, as a whole it transmits the grand feeling I intended. If I had heard this piece before this semester, I would have listened for just the theme or beat. Now, however, I am much better equipped to appreciate the nuances in the piece (balance and layering; composition techniques like crescendi and caesura; and especially the importance of using good samples).



Original video: Youtube
Dropbox link: breach.wav
Samples used: Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra

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An epic theme composed for the Dragon Age: Inqusition trailer.