Sound Byte: Meet the Composer - Christopher Tin

We speak to Grammy Award-winning composer Christopher Tin about his music, his process, and his historic Grammy win.

When Christopher Tin walked onstage to accept his Grammy on February 13--the first-ever win and nomination for a piece of music composed for a video game--the video game music community swelled with pride. After all, doesn't this mean that the "mainstream" finally took notice of video game music? While Christopher did mention in his acceptance speech that the award-winning song "Baba Yetu" was originally composed for the 2005 video game Civilization IV, the song wasn't nominated until December of last year, along with Christopher's first album, Calling All Dawns. If you haven't heard the album yet, I highly suggest you do so by visiting Christopher's site here. The album features more than 200 musicians from around the world, singing poems and prayers in 12 different languages.

Civilization IV came out almost six years ago, and since then the song has been a part of Tommy Tallarico's Video Games Live concert tour. The lyrics to "Baba Yetu" are a Swahili version of the Lord's Prayer, and the song has been performed almost 1,000 times in live concerts. While Christopher has seen success in composing for video games, he has done a wide variety of work in the realms of television, movies, and commercials.

During the week of the Game Developers Conference, I had the opportunity to meet up with Christopher and talk about his music, his background, and how he approaches his work. To find out more, watch the interview below!

Sound Byte is GameSpot's game music blog, which covers every aspect of music in games, including interviews with top game music composers and discussions of new or classic game soundtracks. Have a question or suggestion? Leave us a comment below or e-mail us at soundbyte@gamespot.com. For a list of previous Sound Byte features, click here. Follow us on Twitter! @gs_soundbyte.

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Discussion

35 comments
anthonettex
anthonettex

*Remembers leaving the menu open for times on end* Congrats to Christopher Tin. Well deserved! To be honest alot of video game music sounds very good and cinematic but only until now has been realised by the big guys. But Baba Yetu? Probably the most uplifting song even if you're not religious.

RealHarry
RealHarry

Also, Christopher Tin is a cool dude. Props for admitting he's into a Katy Perry song.

gsmull
gsmull

I remember having that song stuck in my head for weeks when I was playing that game. Here we go again. Nice piece of music. Congrats go to Mr. Tin for this extraordinary achievement and honor.

julianozuca
julianozuca

Another meaty blog feature from Spphia. Excellent! The Grammy itself can't be taken too seriously but it will still work for giving videogame music some visibility and that's fine in the end.

RealHarry
RealHarry

Liking the Sound Byte more and more. Wondering by any chance if a Jack Wall interview might be up in the future. I just finished Mass Effect 2 and well, it was pretty epic in a Hans Zimmer kind of way.

daabulls23
daabulls23

Better late than never! Congrats to Mr. Tin!

jecht_35
jecht_35

Thats so true 1 great song is better then 10 average songs. i wish holiwood and certain game companys would follow his method.

aiat_gamer
aiat_gamer

Nice, Thank you for bringing these poeple to our attention. Many times their efforts go unnoticed but for my part, I will make the effort to learn about these composers.

drokmore
drokmore

Wow 4 years to put together that song thats crazy.

Mairusz69
Mairusz69

Thank you so much Sophia for putting this together. I am a huge fan of Christopher Tin!!!!! AWESOME!

Konuvis
Konuvis

Great Video! I love the subject as usual and you've really ramped up the production values on this one. Very nice.

musicallie44
musicallie44

I love these sound byte sections. Thanks for giving these composers a venue to express themselves and talk to fans.

hyttenhoof
hyttenhoof

It's a shame that it took so long, frankly. Civ 4 has a great soundtrack, but it's far from the first deserving one.

LaytonsCat
LaytonsCat

That was a great interview, thanks Gamespot. Civilization and Baba yetu are both the bes of their respective fields

franzito
franzito

While a lot of people thinks that game music is something undeserving of a award or not good enough, well, is culture and a great one.

Pete5506
Pete5506

I hope to see more Video game composers winning in the future

hywel69
hywel69

Check out the music to a game called BattelForge. YOu can DL the basic game for free I think. Also the Battleforge album is available in i-tunes.

Calvin079
Calvin079

I liked how Baba Yetu was playing in the background. We're doing that song in a choir I'm a part of :D

pathock3
pathock3

I agree with some of the comments, but let's be clear about a few things. Christopher Tin only wrote the theme song. he did not write the rest of the music for the game. and he didn't win for his music for the game. he won for a recording of Baba Yetu on a separately released album that had nothing to do with Civ IV. that's right- it was over 5 years old and it wasn't until it was released on an album unaffiliated with video games that it was deemed worthy of nomination and the award. if he hadn't mentioned it in his speech, nobody watching the grammys would know that the song originated in a game. is this award a good sign of things to come? maybe, maybe not.

Shardz7
Shardz7

Music always gets the backseat in any production queue. It's always the last concern of the project since it correlates with post-production when everyone else is finished. I'm glad to hear the Grammys FINALLY opened up to the game industry, but that's no surprise with all the money rolling in from games these days. Nothing catches the ears and eyes of Hollywood quite like money, after all. And it's about time they start this category because if the Clinton's and Al Gore can win Grammy's for their lame audio biographies, then this is not too far fetched. I can think of about 15 games over the past 20 years that deserve this same recognition, as well. Now if we can just get a damned Diplomacy screen in Civ V, I might consider other awards.

EdibleFood
EdibleFood

Excellent interview. Game composers definately deserve far more recognition. I have yet to see an interview with Yu Miyake, he is brilliant

Judo_boy
Judo_boy

Wow, what a fantastic interview.

Giant_Panda
Giant_Panda

Baba Yetu is seriously one of the best songs ever.

XeonForce
XeonForce

Why haven't I played CivIV yet? *runs out and buys it*

707107
707107

love the music in Civ IV!!!

colonialpikachu
colonialpikachu

I had never really paid attention to music in video games until I heard Baba Yetu.

herodotus2006
herodotus2006

"Calling All Dawns" should be mandatory listening for anyone with even a passing interest in Ambient/World music, particulalry if you like "Baraka" and/or the music of Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Daniel Lanois and even Enigma and Cafe del Mar. Great stuff, great interview.