Classically Trained: Pacific Symphony records score to 'Diablo III'

The classically trained ranks of the Pacific Symphony have made their way into a seemingly unlikely place: a computer game.

But not just any game — the hotly anticipated "Diablo III."

More than 100 musicians from the orchestra recorded the game's soundtrack at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall last July. The game wasn't released until this week, however, and was met with some record-breaking numbers: 3.5 million copies sold within 24 hours of hitting store shelves, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It's apparently the fastest-selling PC game launch in history.

It should be no surprise why Orange County's professional orchestra was chosen to record the game's score.

The maker of "Diablo III," Blizzard Entertainment, is based down the road in Irvine. In the gaming world, Blizzard is known for its top-selling titles, namely its Diablo, StarCraft and Warcraft franchises.

"Diablo III," like its predecessors, is a role-playing game involving a dark fantasy world, quests and monsters. As such, the game developers wanted something specific.

"It was important to give 'Diablo III' its own sound — not only via the compositions, but even in the manner in which it was recorded," said Russell Brower, Blizzard's audio director, in a news release. "To complement the bronze-age sound of Warcraft and the space-opera sound of StarCraft, we decided to record this score in a concert hall that relies on the oldest acoustical traditions known to humankind, and with a world-class ensemble that performs together regularly as a group."

Brower added that the techniques employed in recording "Diablo III" help with the score's subtleties, which otherwise aren't achievable in modern studios' multitrack recording.

He called the Pacific Symphony's efforts "a timeless contribution to the history of video-game entertainment, as well as [for] some of the composers and sound designers who have been toiling away on the game's sound."

Pacific Symphony officials said the "Diablo III" effort was new territory for the orchestra and its first commercial soundtrack recording. Many of the musicians themselves, however, are veterans of Hollywood scoring stages for films and television.

The "Diablo III" soundtrack is available on iTunes and some of it is already up on YouTube.

"When Blizzard Entertainment asked Pacific Symphony to record the soundtrack to 'Diablo III,' we could not have been more thrilled to collaborate with the world's leading video-game company," said Pacific Symphony President John Forsyte in a prepared statement. "One of the most interesting sources of new symphonic scoring is video games, and Blizzard has taken great pride in this aspect of the experience they offer users.

"The brilliance of the game is matched by the dramatic scoring."

BRADLEY ZINT is a classically trained musician and a copy editor for the Daily Pilot. Email him story ideas at or follow him on Twitter @BradleyZint.

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