H O M E L A N D

“This tells the tale of the noble Protoss quest to reclaim Aiur. Not surprisingly, however, before the first zealot is even finished coming through the gate, their fledgling outpost finds itself overrun by a rampaging rush of zerglings. A chilling and savage skirmish ensues, the swarm’s dark and savage bloodlust a sobering reckoning… but our protagonists prevail. Having thwarted the attack, probes now diligently return to the grind, zealots take to their sentry and the outfit thus resumes its reclamation of the home world. For there is no peace to be found in these troubled times and, so then, the rest of this piece becomes a pensive meditation on the oncoming calamity.”

As is typically the case with most zykomazika, the narrative precedes all the technical stuff as it is always the prime focus in any work I do. In this instance, the story I envisioned telling presented itself right away… as though it had been marinating for two decades (hint: it had been lol). In truth, it isn’t a particularly outlandish or unique narrative as it pretty much describes how just about every well played Protoss vs. Zerg match begins. The ‘toss frantically getting that sluggish first gate up to produce a zealot… and here comes the zergling rush to disrupt all your shit. That said, in actuality, my story is a reverse three-act arc… as the intense, climactic conflict is at the beginning and the pensive “world building” is at the end. Where the real “work” began was in how I sought to characterize the different stages of the story arc. As with any thematic writing, each instrument is meant to represent either a character in the story, an event or an intangible emotion/concept. Thus, the acoustic guitar acts as the “voice” of the Protoss… the distorted electric guitar is the Zerg… the piano is the chilling cold-bloodedness of the Zerg… the cello is lament… the duduk/bansuri frankenstrument is the collective ancient memory of Aiur, the Protoss homeworld… the synth pad is space… the darabuka represents the drums of war…

At this point in time… and before I ramble on about motifs and story arcs… I want to give a shout out to my bud Andrew Dunn who contributed his cello to this track. I write a hell of a ton of cello into my music but the tracking is almost always substantially amateurish having never played the instrument myself and while I’m a big fan of Embertone’s Blakus Cello, nothing compares to a live instrument. So I sent what I had written to Andrew and he blew me away, providing such emotive, sensible playing to the part, effortlessly capturing the weight of the Protoss lament I sought to convey with the instrument. He’s a fantastic cellist and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Bravo, good sir.

 

Act III
0:00

So… the story begins with the Zerg rush as demonstrated by the distorted electric guitar creeping up on you in the left channel accompanied by the chilling piano. I had originally specifically quoted the ending of Zerg 1 in this section as a clever callback but, due to licensing constraints on medleys, I had to make due with a refashioned original part that only evoked the Zerg 1 motif by combining the swirly distorted whammy guitar with the creepily sterile piano to create that Zerg aesthetic. In the end, the intended effect was preserved as the Zerg enter from the left channel to invade the Protoss base that is building in the right channel, the conflict reaching a feverish pitch until the final zergling is slaughtered and the piece then falls back into a reflective lull where the Protoss are now tasked with rebuilding their effort.

 

Act II
1:05

Quick aside about my frankenstrument: I love both the Turkish Bansuri and the Armenian Duduk and originally had them playing two different parts throughout the track but found that, while emphasizing SPACE in the orchestration (you know, since Starcraft happens in SPACE), they actually combined forces to create this interesting timbre between them almost as though they were always intended to be a single instrument, the Duduk’s hyper active expressionism and the Bansuri’s rich tone combing to create this new alien instrument (I jokingly refer to it as a Duduri haha). The Duduri represents the tribal memory of the Protoss, who long to reclaim their homeworld Aiur and recapture their ancient glory. From the getgo I knew I was going for a Space Desert Tribal … thing… with the piece so it only made sense that the “back in the day” instrument be distinctly Middle Eastern. Thus, the section immediately after the Zerg skirmish is a reflection on where the Protoss came from and their longing to return there.
The cello represents lament and that is best demonstrated in the section beginning at 3:05 as it enters to play the recognizable main theme from Protoss 3. The Protoss are an ancient, wise race and so would prefer not to engage in war if they can avoid it but, alas, the mindless hivemind Zerg could care less about all that so the Protoss begrudgingly have to prepare for war.

 

Act I
“En Taro Adun, Executor”

War is inevitable. The Zerg will return over and over again and the anticipation is frustratingly pensive. I sought to capture this by dragging out what is essentially a singular musical concept for a little under a minute and a half, accompanying the deliberate staccato cello and sparse darabuka with a light piano part that, again, calls back to the piano of Zerg 1 without actually quoting it. The Zerg are always just beyond the horizon and that is ultimately the point of this final Act; because of its endless inevitability (ie. an RTS game can go for HOURS), I wanted the final act to appear much like a first act in that it sets up the world in which the story of the Protoss conflict takes place. I was very fortunate that it would then randomly end up being chosen as the Void Intro because that is essentially what the whole piece is.

 


 

Phew. I said I was going to share some thoughts… so, naturally, I wrote a novel. Whaddya know. Thanks for listening to my piece, thanks for reading and thanks for supporting me and my art. Y’all know I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
And as always, DIG IT.