Ghost of Tsushima’s soundtrack isn’t just an amazingly moving collection of music, but it’s also one that is deeply rooted in the history of Tsushima and Japan. Moody and elegant, it’s also only one slice of culture that you’ll be exposed to in your journey across the vast island. With Mongolian invaders opposing you at every corner, it made sense to also highlight the culture of this warrior race from across the ocean, and composer Ilan Eshkeri wanted to keep that sound as authentic as possible.
While adding some sinister menace to the score as well, using an instrument that he found years ago in an exotic corner of the world. “We treated that very genuinely as well. Khotan Khan’s theme is played on a Mongolian horse head violin (a morin khuur). We got this incredible player, he came up from Bristol in the UK. He did the throat-singing and folk songs,” Eshkeri explained.
In the end, we needed something that was more ‘military bad guy’, it was really tough to get that right. One of his key sounds, is me playing an instrument that I picked up literally in a jungle on a Malaysian island about 15 years ago. It’s broken, and one of the peg strings on it, I can’t tighten because its gotten very loose. I was bowing it with my violin bow, and I put that sound down an octave and into a sampler and that’s one of his key sounds.
One of the other key differences wasn’t just in the instruments chosen to construct the Mongolian themes, but also in the materials that reflected the differences between cultures. “Then there’s lots of other genuine Mongolian throat-singing and instruments that we used with him,” Eshkeri said.
The other thing that I wanted to use with the Mongolians, is that their music has metal instruments in it. The people of Tsushima, their music never has metal instruments in it. The Mongols are in a sense a little bit more technologically advanced in the way that they’re choosing to fight in their guerrilla warfare. The samurai are counting on an honourable fight, but these guys are past that.
So there needed to be a difference and that was one of them.
The end result is a soundtrack that reminds you just how badly the odds are stacked against the people of Tsushima, and their resident hero who becomes an avenging ghost.
You can grab the Ghost of Tsushima soundtrack right here, from a platform of your choice.
Last Updated: August 4, 2020