His music is as iconic as the games he scored, but Marty O’Donnell, composer of the legendary Halo series, is now unemployed.
Anybody who has ever played a Halo game from Bungie has heard the sounds and music masterfully crafted by Marty O’Donnell. His orchestration brought life and soul to the most memorable scenes and moments in Halo history. When I first saw the stories of this parting hit the Internet, I thought it was a bad joke. Mr. O’Donnell provided little detail himself when he Tweeted the following:
I'm saddened to say that Bungie's board of directors terminated me without cause on April 11, 2014.—
Marty O'Donnell (@MartyTheElder) April 16, 2014
If that wasn’t cryptic enough, Bungie set out to tell us even less with their statement:
“For more than a decade, Marty O’Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans. Today, as friends, we say goodbye. We know that wherever his journey takes him, he will always have a bright and hopeful future.
We wish him luck in all his future endeavors.”
This news comes as a huge surprise with Bungie putting the finishing touches on Destiny. O’Donnell was working hand-in-hand with music legend Sir Paul McCartney on Destiny’s score and soundtrack. Just a few months before a major release is no time to be cutting a core member of your studio. We are only left to imagine what could have happened to make this separation occur. There are likely non-disclosure agreements and other legal constraints that will keep either side from speaking openly about the issue for a long time.
Undoubtedly, Marty O’Donnell will easily find new employment. A man who has worked in advertising, movies, and games is likely to have some contacts. He may very well have people knocking down his door to get him in on their project as you read this. We, as fans, are left to remember what he gave us. From the strings and drums of Halo: Combat Evolved, to the monks chanting in Halo 3, to jazz horns at night in Halo 3: ODST, the tone and feel he gave to the games he worked on were as much part of the game as the story and characters. Try watching this scene without any music and tell me it would have the same intensity.(Spoiler alert if you still haven’t seen the end of Halo 3).
That scene probably isn’t even the most vivid use of his music. If you have the time, check out the entire music catalog from the original Halo trilogy. Even without the images, the music is fantastic. (Warning: it’s over five hours long.)
Destiny may still have his influence if only in a ghostly tone like a porch door in winter. Destiny and Bungie will carry on without their pied piper and he will go on to play for another court. Where ever he may land, I hope we get to hear and feel his work. I think the following meme sums it up best.
Paul Novak is a self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing in the west side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet. Found here at What’s Your Tag? and on the Twitter @dudewantshisrug. Game on with Team XBRO!