Guild Wars 2: The Music of Heart of Thorns

ArenaNet have three very talented composers behind the music in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns: allow me to introduce Maclaine Diemer, Lena Chappelle (Leif Chappelle) and Stan LePard.

These three have taken over from Jeremy Soule as music composers for the Guild Wars series. Now, Jeremy is a prolific and enormously accomplished composer who leaves very large shoes to fill and one might even say it takes three people to fill them(!). Having listened to the talent of Maclaine, Lena and Stan in complete ignorance of this change in composers it’s safe to say these shoes remain full.

Get the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns Original Soundtrack right here!

A Story of Compulsion

I have always taken notice of music in games just as much as I have in films or any other format, and I love to share my favourite experiences with everyone. The tempo of gameplay in Guild Wars has always allowed for these moments of being highly aware of the music framing the experience at hand. Just sometimes, this means delving a little deeper into sound.

Now I’m one of these gamers who upon finding themselves listening to a piece of music in-game then has to go find the exact name of that track on YouTube or SoundCloud and listen to it some more. Maybe I’ll go look for an OST (original soundtrack) if I’m really blown away and listen to every single piece while trying to remember where I heard them in-game. Maybe I’ll even go and write about it on the internet. I know I’m not alone.

A Few Memories

This is exactly what happened to me in Tangled Depths, one of the regions in Heart of Thorns. There are two particular pieces that stick in my mind. One is the music for Rata Novus, because I particularly like the backstory of that abandoned city and the way in which I discovered it.

Theme for Rata Novus:

The other is the music for the Chak Gerent, a notoriously difficult monster that has a significant period of “tension time” before it turns up. During this time its theme music is playing and all the players are left to stew in it.

There is a clear case of Pavlov’s Dog going on with me now whenever I hear that piece: 99% of the time the gerent will win and the players will lose. Having experienced the 1% of times the players win, I now have some special memories that trigger whenever I hear its theme.

The Chak Gerent’s Theme:

Music to Accompany a Legend

Music has that magical quality of triggering memories. I recently watched a few interviews with Maclaine and Lena (Leif) during which they talked about the legacy both of Jeremy Soule’s music plus the decades of film and television that have preconditioned people what to expect from music when they’re in a jungle. The Maguuma Overture is a great example:

Maguuma Overture

The jungle never sounded so friendly… right? Okay, so maybe the jungle wants to eat you instead and the music is setting you up for a brave foray into uncharted territory. Whatever happens next, it’s going to be epic.

The art of manipulating emotions with music is to avoid monotony by continually shaping the listener’s imagination with different sounds. There has to be a sense of journey. This is clearly demonstrated upon entering the wondrous golden city of Tarir, an oasis of beauty that bursts upon the senses.

Tarir, The Forgotten City

If only this sort of thing happened in real life. Well, I suppose this is one more reason to play video games: you will never see such a thing in real life, let alone have a bespoke soundtrack playing for it as you drag your jaw along looking around. There’s also the matter of all these golden people floating about and the adorable rat-folk screaming “Shinies!” at the top of their lungs, all while the epic score plays in the background. It’s quite a treat.


That’s a pretty decent introduction to the music of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns and I hope you enjoyed listening to a few of the pieces.

If you want to go even deeper behind the scenes of ArenaNet’s audio department I have some truly excellent gems for you:


  • Audio director James Ackley and composer Maclaine Diemer on how music is created for ArenaNet.
  • Maclaine Diemer and Leif Chappelle on their background at ArenaNet. (Since removed.)

Sound Design

Updates for December! News and Original Soundtrack Release

Just when I thought I was doing my own thing in a vacuum, ArenaNet have posted a video on this very topic! Going behind the scenes with the Guild Wars 2 audio team, we catch up with what Drew Cady and the gang have been up to.

Original Soundtrack Release

Additionally, the original soundtrack is now available – link below.

Get the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns Original Soundtrack right here!

Updates for January! Interviewing the Composers

Hopefully the final instalment for this topic for the time being, ArenaNet have given some more air time for the composers of the Guild Wars 2 music in this news item and video interview. They sure are busy.

As usual if you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear from you below!



8 Replies to “Guild Wars 2: The Music of Heart of Thorns”

  1. Hey, Cirian! Love the post and the music. Even though I haven’t played videogames so much the past few years, I used to be addicted to my SNES and N64, and also later PCs. I still remember most of the tunes from the Mario series, Zelda and from other RPG games (Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, etc.). Thank you for sharing these!

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Oh wow yes, all of those are amazing. I hear people play things like Song of Storms from Zelda 64: Ocarina of Time on practically any instrument they can get their hands on, all the way from the humble player instruments in Guild Wars 2 to fan concerts at conventions. The intro music for Final Fantasy 7 probably hits me the hardest, so many fond memories of that one! Glad you enjoyed the Guild Wars music too, thanks for dropping by.

  2. HI Cirian! You’ve quiet literally taken me to the nostalgic past where I listened to a whole genre of music – depending on occasion, moods and all that. Jeremy Soule must have been a great composer indeed – if what Maclaine, Lena and Stan can now come up with is anything to go by! I’ve just listened to the theme for Rata Novus, and The Chak Gerent’s theme.But you know learners can some times become greater than their models. Music indeed is so addictive and I can see where you’re coming from to zero in on this often emotion-driven niche, Cirian!

    1. Hi Stephen,

      Thanks for that, you’re right and I’m surprised how many video game music fans there are out there. A lot of them are pretty good at playing music too, which is certainly not the case with me! I guess a lot of people have grown up with video games now and music has such a powerful effect on the memory.

      See you around.

  3. Hi Cirian,

    Thanks for taking the time to write about this, I too get so attached to the music in games I like, so much so that when I haven’t played them for years I can sit back down and start to play them again and just get absolutely flooded by all the fantastic memories.

    I actually haven’t played any of the Guild Wars titles, but that’s mostly just because I get REALLY obsessed with games that I pick up and play, and before I know it I’m spending 8 hours each day on the same game, and a week goes by like that! But you probably have much better self control than I do.

    For me personally, I love the Minecraft music ever since I started playing it years ago, and the music for Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas.

    Thanks for sharing, I’ve got to make a point of doing like you do and going and finding that music used in the games I love, I’m just lazy, I guess

    All the best,


    1. Hi Katia,

      Music in video games was something I discovered a lot of people liked at conventions. There’s even concerts dedicated to it, strange as that may sound. I’ve heard a lot about Minecraft but never he music before so I will have to check that out. I’m also a fan of Fallout and that quirky 50’s nostalgia mixed with Cold War apocalypse 😛

      If I inspired to you find some music you love then great and it’s easy to find these days on YouTube and such. Go for it. At some point I will get back into Fallout too, since I’ve still not picked up the 4th one.

      All the best as well, thanks for dropping by!

  4. Hi Cirian,
    I can relate to you and your Guild … It can be highly additive. I have spent even weeks, simply just playing crusaders, Warcraft … Simply gotta see it to the end but sometimes the end never comes. The graphics are simply so awesome and the soundtrack too … Mesmerising sometimes … You have poured your heart into your website. Cool Cirian.

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