Uncharted composer: ‘The characters were like real people’
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Greg Edmonson is the man behind the music for the first three hugely popular Uncharted video games – the second of which won him a BAFTA back in 2009.

As a new vinyl collection of his Uncharted soundtracks hits stores, we spoke to him about his time scoring the thrilling adventures of Nathan Drake; a task that came hot on the heels of his work on cult sci-fi TV series Firefly.

Hi Greg. Your music for the Uncharted series is considered to be some of the most distinctive, exciting and evocative in modern video games. How did you get involved in working on Uncharted originally?

“Actually, Firefly led to my involvement on Uncharted. Naughty Dog and Amy Hennig were just doing the first trailer for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. It was going to be shown at E3. As they listened to music against their picture, something on the Firefly soundtrack worked for them. They asked me to do the trailer, and then the first game, and the rest is history.

“Amy Hennig is beyond amazing and I loved writing for Uncharted – the characters were like real people. Flawed but with good hearts.”

The range and diversity of your Uncharted scores is striking, and seems to directly reflect Nathan Drake’s exotic, globe-trotting adventures. What particular things helped to inspire those scores? How did you go about crafting them?

“It was Amy’s story and then Naughty Dog’s unsurpassed artwork and graphics that led me. A visual feast in every way. And the acting was amazing, so yet again, I tried to be a part of the storytelling process. And of course this led to my ethnic instrumentation mixed with traditional orchestra experiment.

“I did a lot of experimentation with ethnic instruments [on Firefly] to keep the music feeling a little exotic – a stylist choice that I continued with the Uncharted series and use to this day.”

Do you have a favourite track from the series?

“No. I love so many. But ‘Nate’s Theme’ seems to strike a chord with fans.”

What’s your favourite combination of music and action/visuals from the first three games?

“There are so many fantastic action sequences and they are all different but with the same frenetic energy. I will just say that we had a lot of fun with the orchestra in the recording process because they could ‘play out’ on their instruments.

“We recorded at Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas’s studio in San Francisco, for the first two – and then in London at the wonderful Abbey Road for number three. All of the musicians were beyond fantastic.”

You won a BAFTA for Uncharted 2. What can you tell me about your recollections of that day?

“I was just thrilled to be nominated and then had to watch over streaming internet. It was just fantastic to have been part of a project that worked so well for everyone.

“I was so excited to win and now I am an official BAFTA member here in Los Angeles.”

I’ve heard some fans lamenting the fact that you didn’t return for Uncharted 4. Why didn’t you reprise composer duties, if you don’t mind me asking?

“The production team changed and just went another way. That happens all the time in our industry and I am just grateful for what I got to accomplish on the first three!”

Do you have any plans to create more video game music in the future?

“I would love to do that and we will see what the future holds.”

To find out more about Greg’s work, visit his official website at gregedmonson.com

The vinyl soundtracks for both Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Firefly are available now

More:

Uncharted: what you learn as a total newcomer

Naughty Dog: the legacy of a game-changing studio

Greg Edmonson on making the music for Firefly