The Incredible Story Behind the 'Music of the Spheres' Leak
In a truly shocking Christmas miracle, Destiny's unreleased orchestral 'Music of the Spheres' has leaked to the internet. Destiny's soundtracks have always been remarkable, but this is the definitive Destiny score; a masterpiece by every measure of the word.
In 2013, Bungie infamously fought with iconic composer Marty O'Donnell over his work on the orchestral score for the their upcoming game: Destiny. The score was highly anticipated, as a collaboration between Sir Paul McCartney of 'The Beatles' fame. The conflict ended in O'Donnell's termination without pay, and removal from Bungie's Board of Directors. This retaliation, a US Court later determined, was beyond vicious: it was illegal.
O'Donnell, one of Bungie's seven founder, walked away from the company with a hefty settlement. But Bungie retained his work: The Music of the Spheres. And they had no intention of letting his music be heard. Ever.
Bungie evolved in that period, as masterminds behind Halo slowly walked away. Joseph Staten famously walked away the Destiny universe; Marcus Lehto briefly worked on a separate project parallel to Destiny's development, but when Bungie shelved it, he too left. As the old figures dissipated, the new Bungie arose around the new game.
Just as pieces of Staten's story can be read in Destiny's grimoire cards, so can O'Donnell's symphony be heard throughout the world of Destiny. From the first game's menu music, to the themes of each of its planets, his score is something all players have experienced, in part. But the whole? Just as we'd never experience the starlit fantasy of Destiny's original conception, we were never to hear its original orchestral score.
But last night, I did.
Today, on Christmas Day, 'The Music of the Spheres' leaked to the internet. Not snippets, not a song: the full album.
This was an impossible scenario. Bungie had kept the score under lock and key. At the end of their legal battle with O'Donnell, they won a motion forcing all copies of the score to be returned the company. One hundred copies, printed on CD's had been distributed to employees, partners and industry professionals. These were supposedly returned to the House of Halo. But it was one of those CDs that was leaked; ripped to the internet, and made available to the ears of players around the world.
Earlier this month, Dstreet shared a petition to Bungie, calling for them to release 'Music of the Spheres.' Marty O'Donnell himself shared the petition, with Destiny and Halo fans alike coming out strong in support. The petition was wildly successful, accruing thousands of signatures.
At the center of the commotion was a single fan: Owen Spence. He'd been a fan of Bungie since the days of Halo yore, and was deeply inspired by O'Donnell's work. A huge fan of Destiny, he was disappointed that 'Music of the Spheres' was never released. Disappointment is nothing new for gamers. But in a move that few would have considered, in December 2015, he set about to remedy the injustice. And in turn, he set about the unstoppable chain of events which culminated on Christmas Day, 2017.
I asked him about the project, and he was frank: it was beyond difficult, it was nigh impossible. While most of the composition had been scattered as snippets throughout the Destiny's released soundtrack, some parts weren't actually released. In fact, an entire track intended for the planet Jupiter wasn't even in the final game. Spence combed early footage, demos, trailers and cutscenes for samples. And with methodical precision, he sewed them back together.
His first rough cut was far from finished. He knew there was work to be done. But he quickly found he wasn't along in this task. Barely a month later, he discovered a YouTube channel by the name 'Tlohtzin' had set about the exact same task. So, a collaboration was arranged.
This proved a challenge in and of itself, Spence told me. From Mexico, Tlohtzin isn't a native English speaker. So the two tackled a Herculean audio production by communicating over the internet…through Google Translate. It was a complex task with minute, details being manipulated with highly technical tools. And yet, the two collaborated sentence, by sentence. And in the end, they had something marvelous.
To say they pulled it out of thin air would be an understatement by cliché, yet it's a feat that can be described in no humble terms. It attracted no small amount of attention either, as newer and newer editions were posted on their YouTube channel periodically. In March 2016, Marty O'Donnell himself took notice and commended their efforts. Spence had emailed him the year prior, to no response. But O'Donnell had seen their video and recognized Spence's name.
In December 2017, a fan of their work created a petition calling for Bungie release the original ‘Music of the Spheres.’ It went viral, attracting thousands of signatures.
It also attracted something else. Many CD’s of ‘Music of the Spheres’ had been distributed. Bungie attempted to retrieve them all, but there was always the chance that a few existed in the wild. The petition attracted someone in possession of one such CD. This individual, moved by Spence and Tlohtzin’s passion and the community’s desire, made the music available.
The internet is a wonderful thing. We can play games over it. We can yell at each other over with. Heck, we can listen to music over it.
Well, today’s Christmas. Or at least it is in my sliver of the United States of America. And whether you celebrate the holiday or not, I’ve got something we can celebrate together. A long awaited treat, the spirit of world beyond our eyes, the Music of the Spheres.
Listen to it here:
Edit 2: Soundcloud link
(Note: Neither Dstreet Mag nor its employees created the link, nor had any hand in its uploading to the internet. We are simply reporting that it exists. Do not download music illegally. By clicking the link, viewers are entirely responsible for viewing, hearing or otherwise experiencing any media beyond what is legal. The 'Music of the Spheres' Music is owned solely by Bungie Studios.)