Raison Varner and Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep on Top Score

by Emily Reese
October 3, 2013

Listen Raison Varner and Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon's Keep on Top Score

Borderlands 2 came out earlier this year, but since its release, the developers of the game have released additional downloadable content (known as DLC.)

Today's Top Score features Raison Varner's music for one of Borderlands 2's DLC campaigns, Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep.

In his latest video game score, composer Raison Varner had the opportunity to poke a bit of fun at one of the most beloved genres of all media — the fantasy genre.

"Even though we're making fun of fantasy, we're also acknowledging that the escape from reality is real and important."

This particular story belongs to a game called Borderlands 2, with the four main heroes of the game sitting down to participate in their own game — a parody of Dungeons and Dragons. Varner took into consideration the environment when he chose instruments to use.

"The bassoon is also a great instrument for representing anything that's underground. Because it's deep, it's also got this airiness to it, if you're using it as like a punctuating element within the music, it really comes through and it hits. And it's very distinctive. There's just something so earthy about it."

The narrator of the story is Tiny Tina.

"Tiny Tina...she is a young girl in the universe of Borderlands who's absolutely crazy. She spends her spare time tinkering with explosives and she's a little bit of a mechanical savant."

The eclectic nature of Tiny Tina presented a bit of a musical challenge, as she tries to cope with the loss of a close friend by playing the game.

"Narratively, there were a lot of kind of complex veins running through it. So we had her craziness and her totally over the top nature, we had her grief the she was trying to deal with with the death of Roland."

"I was trying to figure out what to emphasize, because I can only really emphasize one of those things at a time with the music."

Other instruments pop in and out of the texture, implying folk aspects that are intrinsic to fantasy scores, like mandolin and flutes. Varner also used a lilting 6/8 meter reminiscent of folk music and sailing songs for scenes by the water.

"There's something about 6/8 that's always made me just think of rolling waves."

Composer Jesper Kyd also created music for Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, which can be heard here.

Hear Varner's music for Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep on the new episode of Top Score from Classical MPR, also on iTunes.