Top Score

Top Score: Composer Neal Acree

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Neal Acree
Neal Acree
composer's website

To call Neal Acree's fan base "passionate" would be a gross understatement. As a contributing composer for World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo III, Video Games Live, and the Stargate series, some of Neal's listeners seem to live and breathe their respective media. And although Neal composes for some major names now, his start in music recording was humble.

Recording music for video games takes a lot of equipment, and that equipment doesn't set itself up. That sweaty, demanding job falls to those working in cartage, or the men and women responsible for ensuring that the musicians, sound engineers, and composers can work in an environment that fits their needs. Neal performed this job for a while after college, which gave him a chance to study the inner workings of some major entertainment composers.

Like many composers, Neal's success came down to hard work and an incredible opportunity. His chance arose in 2006, when he was asked to score the opening cinematic — a short video clip that highlights important moments or backstory in a video game — for World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Apparently happy with his work, World of Warcraft's parent company, Blizzard Entertainment, has hired Neal back numerous times, most recently for the World of Warcraft game Warlords of Draenor … which comes out today (Thursday, Nov. 13).

Top Score sat down with Neal to talk about the challenges of having such a loyal and demanding fan base, and the pressure a composer experiences when working on games like World of Warcraft and Diablo III.

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