Behind the Games: Meet the Composers - Martin O'Donnell

Our Meet the Composers interview series of the video game industry’s top musicians continues with Halo 3: ODST composer Martin O’Donnell.

Everyone is bound to recognize at least one melody from a popular video game, but how often do people know the creative maestro responsible for it? Behind the Games: Meet the Composers highlights some of the most talented minds in this specialized segment of the video game industry. Here's your chance to find out how they got started, what their musical backgrounds are, and what drives them to do what they do every day. Whether you're a video game music fan or an aspiring musician, Meet the Composers digs deep to uncover what it's like to be in the shoes of a virtuoso.

Martin O'Donnell

Last.fm Profile:
Martin O'Donnell
Currently Listening to:
Talk radio
Currently Working on:
Casting voice actors for Halo: Reach
Biggest Musical Influences:
My mom
First Instrument Played:
Piano

Biography:

Martin "Marty" O'Donnell began his musical career by taking piano lessons from his mother, who played a lot of classical music during his childhood. He eventually realized that he'd rather compose than perform, so he earned his Master of Music degree in composition from the University of Southern California in the early '80s. After college, he founded TotalAudio, a Chicago-based commercial music and sound company, in which he had an opportunity to work on the sound design for Riven (the sequel to Myst). He then went on to work on the audio for Bungie's award-winning Myth series. Marty also has experience in composing scores for television, radio, and film.

Ten days after Marty accepted a job as Bungie's audio director in July of 2007, Microsoft purchased the studio and shuffled everyone to Redmond in order to focus on developing the game Halo, which was planned for the Xbox launch. The success of the Halo series can be attributed to many factors, one of them being the music. The audio and music for the Halo series have won several honors and awards, including the Game Developers Choice Award, the Edge Award, Rolling Stone Magazine's Best Game Soundtrack, and Best Sound from the AIAS, IGDA and the 2008 TEC Award.

Discography:

Who are your favorite video game composers? What are your thoughts on music in video games? Let us know with a comment.

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Discussion

22 comments
Din50
Din50

I had Myth game series, Oni and halo. All three were great but especially MYTH I & II were AMAZING !! Music themes were beyond any imagination..Keep up the good work Buddy.

widdowson91
widdowson91

I personally think that the Halo series is overrated (apart from Halo: Combat Evolved, that game kicked ass and is one of my all tiem favourites) but the music in them is class. I mean listen to the music in Halo: Combat Evolved, it's pure genious.

noclue_27
noclue_27

I have some Halo OSTs on my iPod. The music is a huge part of Halo for me.

Darthnaevus
Darthnaevus

What the hell? Do we know this guy? No, get us Jeremy Soule RIGHT NOW!

Rhen_Var
Rhen_Var

Eeeeh? The Halo composer? Yeesh. What the hell? The game is great but I'm not a fan of the music, at all. It's unique, but not positively for me.

macacd
macacd

Very nice feature.

mridulmaiden
mridulmaiden

im not being a fan boy but this console wars have gone too much

mridulmaiden
mridulmaiden

maxmax1234 isn't Killzone 2 for the PLAYSTATION 3??

F4tC0bra
F4tC0bra

progressive rock is the best.

hibikino
hibikino

Salute to Martin. Never knew he was involved in the music of Myth games... One of the best RTS ever.

xXTalismanXx
xXTalismanXx

Jeremy Soule, Koji Kondo, Nobuo uematsu, and Marty= God's of Videogame music.

teeskoowared
teeskoowared

I always thought it was crazy ironic that the music to Halo was so peaceful. That creates a really cool initial atmosphere for the game. Respect.

Stabby
Stabby

This guy did the music for Myth!? NERD BONER!

Pokemon18986
Pokemon18986

Hi rocks! His music for Halo is soooo good!

sirkibble2
sirkibble2

He's pretty down to earth. Good interview.

Thorpe89
Thorpe89

He's done an excellent job of establishing some very memorable themes from the Halo franchise. Some of my favourite composers are Steve Jablonsky (Gears of War 2, The Island, Transformers), Hans Zimmer (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2), Dave Wise (Donkey Kong Country) and Greg Edmonson (Uncharted: Drakes Fortune, Firefly). I'm sure there's plenty more but I just can't remember right now.

PAPLUXO
PAPLUXO

The game composers are AWESOME!!

asian_pride69
asian_pride69

Not a big fan of the Halo series, but kudos to this guy for his great composing work.