Last month, EA and DICE released Battlefield 1, which sent gamers back to the trenches of World War I. While World War II games have become commonplace, “the Great War” has rarely been explored as a game. As Battlefield 1 demonstrated, there’s more than enough material in that time frame to make a great first-person shooter. But WWI had more than its share of horrors as well.
Miracle of Sound (a.k.a. Gavin Dunne) has released his original Battlefield 1-inspired song, “Pawns of War,” which recreates the feel of a classic war song while playing against footage from the game’s various campaigns. But instead of a triumphant battle hymn, the song focuses on the soldiers who were doomed to be forgotten long after they sacrificed their lives for the war effort.
“I feel like all the war stories had some influence; which I tried to reflect in the video,” related Dunn, when asked about his inspiration for the song. “But mostly it was that crazy intro segment and idea of all these young men leaving their lives behind and being sent to the meat grinder. I wondered what might be going through their minds while stuck in the trenches or out on the fields.”
Dunn went on to explain how he crafted the style of the song. “To get the feel for this one I listened to a few old instrumental army marching tunes from the era as well as the game’s soundtrack, which was a more ‘Hollywood’ feel with a full emotive orchestra. Then I tried to mix those two styles together…The marching snare drum was an easy starting point; it just immediately screams ‘military’ to our ears. I also got a friend to play some tin whistle layers over the vocal melodies to help give it a more imperfect, human feel. There are big timpanis and pounding war drums in there too to give it a little more power & oomph. I also used a lot of strings and brass (trombone, horns) in order to give it that ‘Hollywood war movie’ feel. I always worry that arrangements like this will sound flat without a modern drum backbeat to fill them up, but I ended up liking how this one turned out in the end.”
Battlefield 1 has led some players to rediscover some of the actual WWI era songs, including “Over There,” an overly optimistic propaganda tune about the war’s quick conclusion. But in reality, the war dragged on for over four years and led to the deaths of millions of soldiers and civilians.
There are also a few songs from that era which captured the mindset of the soldiers who knew they were marching off to die while some of their officers stayed far away from the battles. “Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire” was a popular song among the soldiers, but it was said to be very unpopular among the military leadership because of its effect on “morale.” We can’t imagine why they would think that…
Dunne expressed surprise when he learned that some of the classic WWI hymns had shared a similar tone with his new song. “That was just felt instinctively like the most interesting and appropriate angle to explore WW1 from,” noted Dunne. “I just started writing words and that’s what came out. ‘My Bonnie lays afar’ was actually the first line that popped into my head and I went from there.”
For more of Dunne’s music, you can visit Dunne’s Bandcamp page, which has six albums of his Miracle of Sound music, a heavy metal album, instrumental albums and other recordings. Dunne also regularly updates his Miracle of Sound YouTube channel with new songs based on video games, movies, and TV series.
What did you think about Miracle of Sounds’ Battlefield 1 song? Leave your report in the comment section below!