The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Special Edition Soundtrack


Review by · February 22, 2012

A limited edition CD version of the Morrowind soundtrack was released alongside the game, but that soundtrack was definitely incomplete (and also, initially, came without a tracklist). Later, using DirectSound, Jeremy Soule would release a more complete digital-only soundtrack. That’s what we’re talking about here.

What motivated me personally to write this review? I’ve been on a personal quest to complete every Elder Scrolls game in existence (you can do this sort of thing when you decide to stop reviewing new releases on a regular basis). Along the way I saw some really terrible things, but the first obvious jump in quality was from Daggerfall and the two side-games (Battlespire, Redguard) to Morrowind. With that came the jump in audio quality. After all, this is Jeremy Soule we’re talking about.

The music that becomes the series’ recurring theme, “Nerevar Rising,” is perfect. It’s a simple, memorable melody with the ability to scale itself to either small or large dynamic change (rise and fall). After this, we’re introduced to the first town and battle themes. “Peaceful Waters” is a beautiful track; it is, indeed, one of my favorites from the game (and the series). While it does fall into a little bit of Howard Shore Lord of the Rings territory (the 15 seconds from 0:38 to 0:53 are totally shire), the rest is startingly interesting and original.

The battle theme, “Knight’s Charge,” works so well in its opening seconds to let players know “hey, you’re in a fight, better get your weapon out and take care of business!” The audio sequence flows well, as the tension of the battle theme flows into a dark intro for “Over the next Hill,” which eventually becomes a much brighter and ambient field theme. “The Road Most Travelled,” however, is the superior field theme, as it makes use of a variation of the series’ main theme with a nice syncopated rhythm appearing in the melody. And, again, the crescendos and decrescendos are fantastic, both in form and execution.

I hear the main theme yet again in “Dance of Swords,” a strong battle theme with lots of booming, resonant drums and backing orchestra against one or two particular solo instruments. Man, it’s just so good. And it, too, serves as a great transition to “Blessings of Vivec.” This town/temple theme holds light and darkness, portrayed both in key (major vs minor) and pitch (high vs low), in a tenuous balance.

Alert to Final Fantasy Tactics / Sakimoto fans: awesome stacked fourths and fifths with high brass can be done by any composer to amazing effect. See track 11, “Hunter’s Pursuit,” as an example.

“Shed Your Travails” may as well have been named “Shed Your Tears.” As rest music, it brings back so many memories of the adventures on Morrowind. It is mesmerizing for someone who has invested time in the game. This piece is absolutely marvelous.

Anyone looking for a good piece of music to study effective use of polyrhythm, check out “Caprice.” It’s a 3 against 4 pattern, and it works marvelously. When it dissolves into that simple woodwinds-only section, my mind and heart begin to melt a little, like rain hitting snow.

I hope this sappy review serves to note just how evocative this soundtrack really is. Whether you last played this game a decade ago or a month ago (the latter being my experience), this digital soundtrack is certainly worth adding to your collection. It’s not for nothing that much of this amazing music ended up carrying itself into Oblivion and Skyrim.

For information on our scoring systems, see our scoring systems overview. Learn more about our general policies on our ethics & policies page.
Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.