One of my favorite aspects of World of Warcraft’s soundtrack is its devotion to giving the in-game taverns catchy and cozy tunes. I always loved swinging into an inn between adventures just to soak up the ambience and take in the score that was more relaxing than any tankard of virtual ale.
You can imagine how glad I was to see Blizzard devoting a full soundtrack release to WoW’s tavern tunes in 2007. Along with the hard-to-find Mosaic album, Taverns of Azeroth is the only non-expansion (or core game) soundtrack the studio has released. I really appreciated how Composer David Arkenstone layered in atmospheric sounds and used them to transition between the tracks.
So let’s listen to selections from that album and see if we can’t dredge up memories of our favorite watering holes!
1. “Tavern” / “Lion’s Pride”
This is the grand-daddy of all of WoW’s tavern tunes: the original track that played in most inns and pubs back in 2004. It’s a short earworm of a song that nails a medieval melody with soft drums and a jaunty flute. Even now when I hear this, I’m transported back to a much younger me who was in love with every inch of this game.
This version is jazzed up a little bit from the original, but the tweaks merely enrich it rather than rob it of its essence.
2. “Salty Sailor”
As the title might imply, this is a nautical jig perfect for taverns on the waterfront. It certainly gets my toe tapping with an easy-to-hum melody that goes through a number of instrumental variations.
Side note: One of the elements of tavern music that I love is how downplayed the percussion is in them. These aren’t battle tracks or pieces that are conveying forboding landscapes; these are relaxing moments that don’t need crashing cymbals and aggressive drumlines to set us on edge.
Another ocean-tinged track, Deepwater has more of a ballad nature to it. I can picture words being sung to it — a story told of high adventure and daring escapades. Alas, only the instrumental exists, although perhaps some bored fan might add his or her script to this fast-paced tune?
4. “Gallow’s End”
Now here’s a bit of a switch! Gallow’s End is most certainly a more somber, haunting track, as perfect for a haunted house as it might be for one of Azeroth’s run-down establishments. It’s wonderfully moody, with the woodwind taking us on a journey down dark lanes and long-buried secrets.
5. “Pig and Whistle”
This is such a merry tune that I can’t help but smile and bob my head along with it. Relaxing it may not be, but it’s still perfect for a vivacious tavern. It does feature heavier percussion for the dance beat, although the strings, accordian, and flute boldly make their mark too.
6. “Slaughtered Lamb”
Faced with a name like Slaughtered Lamb, I was expecting something far more macabre, but instead we are treated to a warm, homey track. It may not be as catchy as some of the others, but I think it more than makes up for it in pure atmosphere. I could hang out in an inn playing this for hours.