Well, this op-ed is certainly flattering. I personally enjoyed reading the article quite a bit as working on the music side of the game was probably my favorite part of the project. Along with helping our great composers (Christopher Tin, Jeff Briggs, Mark Cromer, and Michael Curran) put together the new music, I got the privilege to select the historical pieces that comprised the background music from the Renaissance to the Modern era, giving me a great excuse to examine and expand my music library. I learned that many of the pieces that first spring to mind – say Beethoven’s Ninth – don’t work very well as soundtrack because they draw too much attention to themselves. Orchestral dances and middle movements, with more constant tempos and fewer climaxes, tended to work much better. (I couldn’t resist, however, adding Bach’s Violin Concerto because the climax is just that good…)
As for the John Adams, I always felt that he made a good choice for matching the inherent compromises and inconsistencies of the 20th Century as – though he is fully versed in the developments of Modernism, especially with regards to Minimalism – he remains a Romantic at heart. For Adams, Minimalist techniques are simply another tool as opposed to an end in and of themselves, giving his music a broad, expansive feel unique to the period. I did have to edit many of his pieces significantly as his dynamic range is enormous. Another piece I wanted to include for its impossibly beautiful and haunting tone – “Christian Zeal and Activity” – has a moving spoken word section which I had no choice but to leave out. Filling the entire Modern era with just one composer was, I admit, a fairly idiosyncratic decision, but I like games which evoke the feeling of having a unique designer on the other end.
Having said all that, I definitely want to thank Jeff Briggs and 2K Games for going out on a limb for me with this somewhat pricy decision. It was one of many things I asked for with Civ4 (such as releasing the AI SDK) without actually expecting to get them!