Critical Role has continued to grow and expand in their storytelling through multiple Twitch shows, the EXU spin-offs, comics, novels, and animated series, as well as a game publishing company and now a record label. Their first album, Welcome To Tal-Dorei, released through Scanlan Shorthalt Music gives Critters the chance to fully immerse themselves in the sound of Critical Role through the music used in Campaigns 2 and 3.
We had the opportunity to speak with one of the composers of Welcome To Tal’Dorei Matthew Carl Earl, co-owner and lead composer of Hexany Audio, about working with Critical Role on the new album. He explained how they kept the music unique while still living in the classic fantasy style, which song he sees as the iconic song of Critical Role from the album, and his thoughts about Critical Role branding their sound.
MATTHEW CARL EARL TALKS ABOUT CRITICAL ROLE BRANDING THEIR SOUND
“And I think that’s something that they are trying to do. And I think is really cool. Because in the past, they did have some custom stuff and they were using a lot of stock music too. But I do think it’s really cool that they are now branding their franchise with their own full creative, everything. They got their full art and they got their TV show, they got books, now that they’ve got their own label and their own album coming out. I think that’s awesome that they’re now sonically branding, I keep calling it a game. To brand Critical Role like sonic sound I think is very cool.”
Critical Role has grown from a Twitch live stream Dungeons & Dragons game on Geek & Sundry to become their own Production Company with multiple projects and creative partnerships. With comics, novels, merchandise, original games, original music, and an animated series on top of their flagship show as well as the many other Twitch shows they create Critical Role has grown far beyond the home game it started as.
Critical Role has grown into their own brand and franchise which continues to develop and gain fans. Music has always been an important part of Critical Role from Sam Riegel continuously creating music as the bard Scanlan Shorthalt during Campaign 1 to the theme songs produced for Critical Role and The Legend Of Vox Machina soundtrack. Now, they’ve branched out into a new type of soundtrack.
The music played during the flagship Critical Role campaigns has to walk an interesting line. The music must immerse the players and audience into the high fantasy world of Critical Role and Exandria, enhancing the storytelling without overpowering the performances of the players. The composers definitely accomplished this difficult task creating beautiful original music that has the iconic high fantasy feel. We asked Matthew Carl Earl how they managed to keep that high fantasy feel while still finding a unique sound.
“I really like to approach music harmonically and think, just trying to create cool chords and cool textures is the big thing. And there’s such a strong base and almost 95% of the music we do here is fantasy orchestra music. So we have a pretty strong base in fantasy, in what that should sound like. So being able to explore just more of that is fun.
Because we can just tweak harmonies a little bit more, explore some textures we don’t normally get to do. And also being able to start with emotions is fun because it’s like, we don’t really have this idea of this is what it needs to sound like. But we just need to convey this emotion and whatever that means to you. So it’s like if we’re writing a mysterious track, what does mysterious mean to you personally? And how are you going to make that sound? So I think it becomes pretty personal to each composer, so it’s hard for it to not sound unique.”
Music often becomes an iconic part of a franchise. Today almost everyone recognizes Marvel’s Avengers and Spider-Man themes as well as the iconic Imperial March from Star Wars. With Critical Role continuing to grow and create they have had a number of iconic songs, both from Critical Role and The Legend of Vox Machina. However, many of these songs aren’t solely orchestral like the Welcome To Tal’Dorei album. Matthew Carl Earl revealed which of the many songs he believes is the iconic Critical Role sound from the Welcome To Tal’Dorei album.
“So, the ‘Welcome to Tal’Dorei’ track, which is the main title track, none of our composers here wrote it. It was [Colm McGuinness.] He wrote a bunch of music for them in the past, but yeah, he wrote that theme and that’s like their entrance of this is the theme to Tal’Dorei and everything.”
Critical Role continues to build their franchise and develop their story in new and surprising ways using numerous storytelling mediums. Scanlan Shorthalt Music and Welcome To Tal’Dorei open the doors to exciting new possibilities for Critical Role hopefully including more immersive music for Critters to enjoy. With San Diego Comic Con only a week away Critters hopefully have some exciting news on the horizon from Critical Role’s panel on Saturday July 23 at 5pm.
New episodes of Critical Role Campaign 3 premiere every Thursday at 7pm Pacific on their Twitch and YouTube channels. You can now listen to and purchase Welcome To Tal’Dorei via Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, and any other online music services. What do you think of The Welcome To Tal’Dorei album? Which track is your favorite? What do you think the Critical Role franchise will expand into next? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media and check back with The Illuminerdi for San Diego Comic Con coverage and more Critical Role.