ReMix:Marathon "The Forerunner Mix (Alpha)" 2:32

By Nick Singer

Arranging the music of 2 songs from 2 games ( view all )...

"Covenant Dance", "Leela"

Primary Game: Marathon (Bungie , 1994, MAC), music by Alex Seropian

Posted 2007-12-21, evaluated by the judges panel

Once upon a time, Bungie developed a little game called Marathon that injected new life and style into the then DooM-dominated FPS genre. Of course, we all knew where that ended up heading, but today happens to be the 13th anniversary of Marathon's release. And who says that's unlucky? Newcomer Nick Singer sure doesn't, as he gives us not one but two Marathon mixes. Normally we wouldn't accept double submissions, much less post them back to back, but since these are companion mixes that happen to coincide with an important title's anniversary, it seemed the thing to do. Mr. Singer writes:

"The first track uses the theme "Leela" from marathon and mixes it with various motifs and rhythms from the halo soundtrack, mostly from the theme 'Covenant Dance'. The second is based on "Chomber" from Marathon and "Under Cover of Night" from Halo. No samples from the originals were used. I'm not good with names so I've just been calling them Marathon Mix 1 & 2..pretty lame I know...

By the way I'm a composer from London Uk working freelance for film/TV and trying to break into the game industry, more info on my website if you're interested."

Apparently Marathon is coming to XBLA, which should be interesting... perhaps they'd be interested in these pieces, which also smartly incorporate Halo material, as Nick mentions. These are both shorter arrangements, but they develop nicely and have a VERY cinematic flavor to them. Lower pizzicato strings blend seamlessly with modulated synth bass, as strings run back and forth and icy synth atmo sweeps over the sonic tundra. At 0'56" a stronger downbeat enters, with a drilling, filtered glide synth pattern, which gives way to more ambient material and ethereal pads, which then in turn build back up to a release, after which the arrangement exits on a chilling, distant note. It's exciting stuff, and you can easily picture it being used in any number of film/television spots - Singer's roots definitely show - but it'd also be appropriate in a video game setting. Vinnie agrees:

"The incorporation of the two themes in this song was smart. The Leela progression was slightly extended and provided the backbone for the first half of the mix, and it seamlessly led into a phrase from "Covenant Dance". The intro had a few modified takes on this phrase which helped tie everything together thematically. The connection to the source was not always overt but it's definitely there for the first 1:56 of the song. The arrangement was also imaginative, using an atypical set of instruments. I loved the shift in rhythm emphasis at 0:39, which made the song sound more like a waltz. Production was immaculate; this is a fantastic song on headphones. Instruments are crisp and clear, and there are countless details for those who listen closely, all woven in smoothly. Very nice work."

For all practical purposes, you could think of this as a Halo mix that incorporates Marathon, or vice versa, but it's cool that Nick is highlighting the less popular of the two, while successfully integrating more recognizable material from its offspring. I certainly would have loved a bit more exposition, and perhaps some solo work, to make the entire thing seem more songlike, but you definitely still get a feeling of traveling, complete with outset, journey, and eventual destination, so while not lengthy, it's linear and narrative, which compensates. Great stuff from Mr. Singer, who I'd love to see (and hear) working in the game industry, based on these pieces.



Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2009-12-06 03:19:21

Super nice stuff. I'm a huge fan of this series of mixes, so it's good to finally get around to writing a little note of appreciation for it.

I really like how this has a delicate approach to the genre. It doesn't aspire to soar or deafen or deluge layer upon layer of synth. There's a time and a place for that sort of thing, certainly. But the higher road taken here sure is sweet for a change.

Very fluid mixing. Great compatibility of sounds and instruments; the strings sound strong and I'm liking the choices in synths and effects too. I'm not familiar at all with the sources, but that is totally irrelevant to enjoying this. This is an awesomely serene mix of textures that only gets better with multiple listens. Get it and let it all sink in.

on 2009-02-20 09:01:59

It's awesome to see some Marathon coverage. I played it through on AlephOne a couple of years ago, but the music never really stuck. I suppose I've spent more time playing Halo, I recognize the Halo stuff easily.

This is an awesome remix, just for how it progresses. Favorite part: 1:25, another build-up. has a gerat scifi sound, would fit into a movie of either game series. I love how it ends with just a soft pad. Great stuff.

Listening to this and Beta back-to-back makes it an even greater experience. Highly recommended. I saw there was a Gamma version too, I hope it is resubbed, judged quickly (and YESed) and posted soon.

on 2009-01-08 22:44:21

I'm not as familiar with the Marathon soundtrack as I am with the Halo soundtracks, so I hear those themes more predominately, but still...

Listening to Covenant Dance versus Alpha puts this mix into perspective; it really shows where Alpha came from, where Alpha goes, and just how far Alpha does go. And it is amazing.

All in all, it's an enjoyable listen, an awesome mix, and an absolute must download.

on 2008-12-06 19:58:52

I love both this and the Beta mix, and rather than spread myself thin trying to comment on both pieces, I thought I'd toss in my two cents for both of them as two cohesive halves of a whole. These mixes are engrossing and sweepingly epic, but also varied and able to keep the listener's interest throughout the entire duration. I'd never even heard of this game before these mixes were posted, but it doesn't matter--awesome music is awesome, regardless of whether or not you've previously heard or even known about the source.

on 2008-08-22 08:16:01

Alpha is better than beta:!:This is the best music ever.OMG since I have heard 100 remixs and only this one was the best:razz:

on 2008-04-29 00:12:44

FlamingTP's omni-review challenge# 9/1522

Now this my friends is a work of pure awesomeness, and I'm not a giant Halo fan either. This mix of the Doom engine prequel is laced with gold. Most mixes of halo origin I find have too much chant in them, but this offers smooth background nod to it without overdoing it, all the while pounding an accurate, absolutely solid rendition.

10/10 "Master Chief"

on 2008-01-11 12:18:03

wow, beautiful sounds, textures, and a lot of energy to boot. You've set up a really great atmosphere, and have combined a lot of natural and artificial sounds in a very organic manner. Also there are lots of cheese chords that I love to shamelessly indulge myself in ;) I only with there was more melodic content, but I don't know the source. But regardless, great work. Time to listen to beta!

on 2008-01-09 14:50:35
hi guys, thanks for all the kind words.

The reason they are separate tracks is that I originally intended them to be part of a longer series, covering most of the material from the Marathon games. But then a few projects came up and I only really had time to work on three of them. The 3rd is on its way though..:sleepdepriv:

BTW sorry for posting in my own review thread, that's gotta be a faux pas of some kind..

Not at all. I think many of us have done it. : It's interesting to hear the songs were to be part of a series, though the connections are obvious. I look forward to the 3rd part!

on 2008-01-08 16:47:48

This mix has a super deep sound, and I love the atmosphere it exudes. The pads used are excellent, and your crescendos are great; the only minor complaint I have is that the cool siren-style synth has an awkward exit. It just kind of stops, as opposed to fades out. Everything else is gold. This one walks a very delicate line between an engaging mix to actively listen to, and very good background music. It could easily serve as both. Well done.

on 2008-01-06 18:08:34

hi guys, thanks for all the kind words.

The reason they are separate tracks is that I originally intended them to be part of a longer series, covering most of the material from the Marathon games. But then a few projects came up and I only really had time to work on three of them. The 3rd is on its way though..:sleepdepriv:

BTW sorry for posting in my own review thread, that's gotta be a faux pas of some kind..

Martin Penwald
on 2008-01-06 15:23:27

For me, this does work as a stand-alone piece, especially part one, which manages to set up a wonderful atmosphere. As AS said, coupling the synths with strings was a very good idea.

However, I don't really understand why Alpha and Beta weren't incorporated into one song. It seems to me that it would've been possible to link the two together with only little effort. Granted, there would have been quite the stylistic change in the middle of the mix, but it's not as if that hasn't been done, and done well, before.

on 2008-01-05 17:50:38

Despite the mentioned background-ness, and that I wouldn't mind if it had some "foreground" to it, I somehow enjoy this one as a stand-alone piece. Strings and synths combination is very tasty indeed. I also like how there seem to be different rhythms layered on top of another. I think those are why this works for me for focused listening.


on 2007-12-26 21:13:53

Nice incorporation of the orchestrated elements with the synths. Everything gels together well, which is hard to to with something like that.

The song remains a bit too 'background' to really enjoy on it's own, as ANSO said. Still nice to have, and it would be good to see this coupled with a video or something.

on 2007-12-22 01:08:03

Nice! Love the atmospheric and climatic feel to this piece! Both this and the Beta mix are awesome pieces. I'd love to heat the Forerunner Mix (Gamma) to serve as the conclusion to this mini-series

Keep up the good work. Hope to hear more from you

on 2007-12-21 17:41:26

Very cinematic but still manages to breathe some much needed life in to the genre. Coupling synths with strings is a stroke of genius and makes a very enjoyable combination. The percussion is fairly interesting throughout but isn't really the focus of the remix, something I think is intentional and works well. The production is very clean, there are a lot of small elements that you might not notice at first btu that really helps the piece.

As I mentioned the piece has a very cinematic nature and would work well as a soundtrack for both games and movies, though this same nature makes it a tad hard to enjoy as a stand-alone piece of music imho. I can't help but to wish there was some more structure and, even though it's very dynamic, a definite culmination of the piece. Nonetheless, this is a great arrangement well worth your time and it's PERFECT as background music while gaming.

Thank you for bringing OCR some Marathon-love.

Sources Arranged (2 Songs, 2 Games)

Primary Game:
Marathon (Bungie , 1994, MAC)
Music by Alex Seropian
Additional Game:
Halo: Combat Evolved (Microsoft , 2001, XBOX)
Music by Marty O'Donnell,Michael Salvatori
"Covenant Dance"

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