In a recent interview with IGN, Halo composer Marty O’ Donnell confessed that the main idea from the theme came from an old Beatles tune.
Built mainly off gothic monk chants and deep orchestra like tones, O’ Donnell explained in the interview how “Yesterday” by The Beatles had unique structure that helped him construct the feel of the main theme. Before showcasing the first Halo demo at MacWorld 1999, the developers realized that they lacked the proper music to set the mood for the space epic. Marty offered to create the music on the condition that he keep the rights to composition and license its use for $3,500.
In the interview O’Donnell claimed that he was given the order to create something sounding “ancient, mysterious, and epic.” On his brainstorming process he commented “[A]s I was driving, I thought ‘Okay, ancient…you know, monks are ancient, so I’m going to start with some sort of monk chant, and it’s got to be hook-y, it’s got to stick in people’s heads and then we’ll go on to something sort of epic and pounding; cellos and drums, and stuff.’”
“I’ve always analyzed [Yesterday’s] melody; it’s got one high point, it’s got one low point, it’s got four sort of irregular phrases,” he said.
“So, [the Halo theme is]…not a copy of the Yesterday melody, but the Yesterday melody inspired me to put that together, because I thought, ‘Well, if I have one high point, one low point, to four irregular phrases but still do a legitimate monk chant melody…it may be able to have legs.’”
O’Donnell was recently fired from developer Bungie Studios under mysterious circumstances, the details of which are still coming to light. Stay tuned here for more info!