Olivier Deriviere Scores Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom Cry

by Emily Reese, Minnesota Public Radio
May 22, 2014
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The story of Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag: Freedom Cry is about a Trinidadian man named Adewale in the early 18th century. At the beginning of the game, Adewale is second in command on a pirate ship, after spending the first part of his life as a slave. When the ship wrecks and Adewale is stranded on Haiti, he learns of the French enslavement of his people.

French composer Olivier Derivière knew he needed to do something a bit different for the games musical score.

"First, I needed to go and record some traditional music, some ancestral music, to understand and to put that into the game."

As a result, Olivier Derivière's soundtrack is a blend of traditional Haitian music and his own original score.

"I went to New York to record a Haitian group, La Troupe Makandal, that is dedicated to Haitian music and dance. I recorded them, and then I added my score on top of the percussion. It's a very big blend of their music and my music."

Musicologist Lois Wilcken is the executive director of La Troupe Makandal.

"She helped me a lot," Derivière says, "choosing the songs that might be accurate for this period of time, but also when I told them I'm looking for performers, she said, 'You know what? We have performers.'"

Derivière recorded La Troupe Makandal first, then added the orchestra after.

"What I really wanted to do was be very respectful of the Haitian music; I didn't want the Haitian [music] to be just a sort of gadget. I wanted this to be the very core of the score. I told them to pick the songs that they felt were right for the subject of the game."

The orchestra is from Belgium — the Brussels Philharmonic. Derivière didn't want the orchestra to overshadow the traditional Haitian music performed by La Troupe Makandal.

"My job was to tell them that my music would make their music the core of the game, and to have, on the other hand, the Belgians supporting them instead of enslaving them, because that's what happened.

"It's a very interesting project, historically speaking, because on the one hand you have the French and Belgium; and on the other hand you have the African from Haiti, and this is kind of a projection of what happened 400 years ago, but now it's a collaboration."

Additionally, Derivière included the original recordings of La Troupe Makandal before he added the orchestra.

"I really wanted people to witness what was the real Haitian music."

Hear Olivier Derivière's music for Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag: Freedom Cry on the new episode of Top Score from Classical MPR, also available on iTunes.

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