Music and the Fictive Dream: Halo Soundtrack

Halo, Halo: Combat Evolved Soundtrack, Martin O’Donnel & Michael Salvatori, 1999, U.S.A.


Halo was the theme to the original soundtrack for Bungie’s videogame Halo: Combat Evolved. It debuted in 1999 for the Macworld Conference & Expo along with a demonstration of the game. Martin O’Donnell, the audio director of Bungie, along with Michael Salvatori wrote, composed, and participated in performing the soundtrack. The theme was requested to “give a feeling of importance, weight, and a sense of the ‘ancient’ to the visuals of Halo” (Halo Original Soundtrack). It has gone on to be the theme for the entire Halo franchise.


The role of the soundtrack in any video game is to “enhance a sense of immersion, cue narrative or plot changes, act as an emotional signifier, enhance the sense of aesthetic continuity, and cultivate the thematic unity of a video game” (Zhang).  Halo sets the tone for the epic journey that is found in the story line. It has a sense of urgency with repetition and drawn out minor chords that keep the resolution just out of reach. The choir in the background achieves its goal in bringing “ancient” times to mind while playing (Halo Original Soundtrack).


The story of Halo: Combat Evolved is one of strategy and heroism in the face of overwhelming opposition. It has become an iconic American game ranking as the 9th most popular video game of all time (The 20…). Background music, or soundtrack, has been found to be an “indispensable part in every successful video game” and Halo is no exception (Zhang). Thus the success and influence that the video game has can also be attributed to the soundtrack.


I grew up playing the games from the Halo franchise with my dad. The strategy involved playing the campaign (storyline) with him made for some fun nights. As we continued through the series, the theme Halo stuck with me and now reminds me of those fun times. I have also connected with friends through the game in not just gameplay but in playing the soundtrack with our instruments. It has become a timeless track that always reminds me of fun, family, and friends.



“Halo: Combat Evolved.” Halo: Combat Evolved – Halopedia, the Halo Encyclopedia,

“Halo Original Soundtrack.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Mar. 2018,

“The 20 Most Popular Video Games of All Time | 2017 Update.” The Ultimate Resource for Video Game Design, Game Designing,

Zhang, Jiulin, and Xiaoqing Fu. “The Influence of Background Music of Video Games on Immersion.” OMICS International, OMICS International, 7 July 2015,

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