Tavern Tunes - We Shall Sail Together

Composer Robin Beanland tells us more about the song from the Sea of Thieves Cinematic Trailer.

It’s been a few weeks since we took to the stage at E3 2016, showing the world what the team at Rare has been working on over the year since Sea of Thieves was first announced. Alongside the gameplay demo, swag and pirate band, as you’d expect, we brought not one, but TWO brand new Sea of Thieves trailers!

For those of you who haven’t followed the news, one of our new trailers was a Cinematic, made from in-game assets and showing the grand vision for Sea of Thieves. In amongst all of the buzz, what left fans talking for days was the music used in the trailer. We heard you, so we released an extended cut on YouTube earlier in the week. Now that it’s out there, it only made sense to tell you a little bit more about it.

Sea of Thieves Tavern Tunes: We Shall Sail Together

Duration 2:15

Titled “We Shall Sail Together”, the piece was by Rare Veteran Composer Robin Beanland with the vocal talent of fellow Rare employee Anna Hon. As many of you probably noticed from the outset, the song is a rendition of the age old pirate shanty, “Drunken Sailor”, with a twist. Robin tells us that the idea behind using “Drunken Sailor” as a springboard for the song was so that people had “a feeling they’re listening to something familiar”, while not instantly thinking that it’s just “Drunken Sailor”.

But what were these aforementioned twists? One major change was the time signature being switched from 4/4 to 6/8 which essentially affected the phrasing of the lyrics and melody, giving it a brisk “waltz feel”. You can see where this and the slow tempo of the song works well with the slow tracking shots that take up the entirety of the trailer.

That’s not all though! With the lyrical talent of Kameo writer Chris Allcock, the song was also able to tell a story. For example, the line “We shall sail together” not only features in the title but also in several of the verses, alluding to the focus Sea of Thieves has on sharing an adventure with your friends.

Can anyone guess which instruments these are? Both begin with an H!

While his signature hurdy-gurdy features prominently in the mid-section of the song, there’s actually use of a wide range of instruments throughout. There are hints of everything from electric bass to drums to the precariously spelled nyckelharpa, a fiddle-like instrument that shares similarities to a hurdy-gurdy but is played with a bow rather than through cranking a wheel. All of these instruments were used intentionally and Robin tells us that this was because “that’s what we’re using in the game soundtrack, so I wanted the Sea of Thieves signature in the cinematic trailer to tie everything together”.

Now that we have a lot of Sea of Thieves artwork out in the wild, as well as plenty of gameplay footage, you may have noticed that artistically, the game employs a fantastical style that relies on slightly warped looking scenery and objects. The intention was to have this motif cross over into the music as well which is apparent in the slightly creaky, out of tune sounding nature of the track that plays at certain points. In the humble words of Robin, “it needs to sound like pirates cranking away on those instruments…not a group of virtuosos…which is lucky, because a virtuoso I ain’t”.

"We Shall Sail Together" captured the essence of Sea of Thieves perfectly. Before we head off and watch the trailer again for the 100th time after gaining all of this newfound knowledge, we’d like to thank Robin for taking the time to tell us more about what went into it. Of course, "We Shall Sail Together" is just the beginning and with plenty more to come, make sure to keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook as you never know when we’ll share another!