Interview with Alex Seropian (creator of the original Marathon soundtrack), October 27th 2004
AS: Alex Seropian
C: Hello! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions regarding the original Marathon songs.
As I'm sure you know, this year is the 10th anniversary of the release of Marathon. In fact, the official anniversary of the first demo release (November 23, 1994) is quickly approaching. The game is still entertaining and engaging the community to this day in the form of independent scenarios and large scale collaborative works like Marathon: Resurrection, Marathon Eternal and Aleph One!
Before we get started is there anything you would like to say regarding the 10th anniversary of Marathon?
AS: Wow - I can't believe it's been so long. We were all so young back then. The good 'ole days.
C: Ok, so lets get started. The questions were generated primarily by myself, however, several visitors of the still highly active Marathon Story Forum contributed theirs as well. Feel free to be as candid or formal as you like:
How did you get started in music and are you a trained musician, or is it just a hobby? Were there any musical influences for the Marathon soundtrack?
AS: Music was valued highly in my family growing up. My brothers and I all played music. I remember going to piano lessons in sixth grade with Paul Scat who was a local musician in a rock band. He had a Corvette! How cool is that? I played in bands in high school, but I'm a hobbyist. When I realized I wasn't going to make it as a rock star, I got into programming.
C: I know its quite a while ago, but do you remember what hardware and software was used in making the original Marathon midi files?
AS: Yeah - it was done on a Mac with a Quadrasynth, an old Korg Poly61M and an opcode sequencer.
C: Were you solely responsible for the music in Marathon? How long did it take to compose the entire soundtrack?
AS: I did the marathon one music myself in about four months.
C: Was each track based upon the general atmosphere of the level? "Fat Man" could obviously be a reference to some sort of bomb and several other allusions could be drawn to outside sources from the rest of the official track titles. Can you tell us the meaning, if any, behind the names of each track? Do you have a favorite song from the game?
AS: I think the audio in Marathon contributed greatly to the atmosphere. Most game developers don't give audio enough credit. Programmers are very visual - but sound is such an important part of the experience. That's often way underestimated. For Marathon, the sound design came first in establishing the audio palette of the game and the music was designed to layer on top of that and provide ongoing themes for the environment and characters.
Back then the audio technology was pretty basic. We had to rely on midi, and we only could drive a few simultaneous tracks. That was very limiting.
C: Briefly, who was/is Power of Seven? Did Power of Seven have any relationship with the original Marathon music? Is Power of Seven the artist for the tracks on the original Marathon disc?
AS: Power of Seven is a techno band. Cool guys that had a love for Marathon and a good musical sensibility that complimented the fast paced action of Marathon. They did a couple of songs for Marathon II.
C: According to the press release available at your website, Aspyr media will be "leveraging its music and film ties" for Wideload's first release. Will you be contributing to the music or soundtrack in any way? Can you tell us anything about the music or soundtrack for Wideload's first release?
AS: Can't say too much about that yet - but, yes, I'm very involved in the audio production for our first title.
C: How do you feel about the music in Marathon being so adored by those in the Bungie community? Does it surprise you?
AS: Yes, it surprises me a lot. Honestly, given the limitations of the audio engine back then, I didn't think the music would be taken so seriously. But it was an important step in getting to where we are today. Audio in games now is even more sophisticated than film.
C: I, along with the rest of the Bungie community, would like to thank you for speaking with us and send our sincere regards. I'll save all of the stories about how Marathon has strongly affected each of our lives in some profound way because honestly, that might sound a little pathetic, however, I think I speak for us all when I say that I can't express how important Marathon is to this community.
On behalf of the Bungie fan community and myself, we all wish you the very best in all that you do and are anxiously awaiting Wideload's first game release!
AS: Hey- thanks!