Normand Corbeil and the soundtrack of Heavy Rain

When I learned last night that Normand Corbeil, the composer of Heavy Rain, passed away after a five month battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 56. I was crushed. It’s weird, it’s not like I knew much about the guy. I thought I should write something, but hell, what do I know? I can’t write about all of his music, he did quite a bit of film scores before his work in Heavy Rain, but I don’t know much about those. Here’s what I do know,I know that Heavy Rain’s soundtrack was fantastic. And it’s a shame that Corbeil passed away so soon. He was working on the score for Beyond: Two Souls as well. This isn’t an obituary, I'm nowhere near qualified to do such a thing. This is a tribute to the Heavy Rain soundtrack, which was brought to us because of Corbeil.Before I continue, I should get a few misconceptions out of the way. Normand Corbeil did the score for Heavy Rain, but that doesn’t mean all of the music. A lot of the music is from Audio Network, a place that sells music you can use for productions etc. Remember the song from the trailer? It’s a great song, but it wasn’t by Corbeil. That song is called Mars, and it’s on Audio Network. Any radio music, club music, etc. That wasn’t Corbeil’s work. I get how people would make that mistake, but I just wanted to get that out of the way, to dodge the inevitable “Why didn’t you talk about Mars?” comments.

One more side note. Between me and my brother and sister, Heavy Rain is pretty much OUR game. We have a lot of different opinions about games, but our love for Heavy Rain is the same for each of us. And you know what? Maybe it doesn’t deserve that much love. Looking at it today, it doesn’t look so hot. It has it’s flaws, but at the time it came out, such a goddamn fantastic ride. While The Walking Dead was making people go “Oh wow, the choices matter.” All I kept thinking was how much it reminded me of how Heavy Rain blew me away. We’ve had a lot of fun adding lyrics to some of Corbeil’s songs. (“Ethan’s sad, really sad” for Ethan’s theme. “Jayden. Is Dead. Jayden. Is Dead” for Jayden’s theme.) And there is the constant running joke between us that if you listen to Ethan’s theme long enough, it’ll turn into Aerith’s theme. Cloudy memory is possible, but I don’t think I can remember the last time someone in the industry’s death hit so hard as Corbeil’s did. A major part of this me, my brother, and sister’s love for Heavy Rain. Here are some of the songs from heavy rain that still stick with me, almost three years later.

Warning: There may be spoilers for Heavy Rain after this point.

Ethan Mars’ Main Theme

Corbeil’s song is the perfect introduction to the dark depressing world of Heavy Rain.

If you don’t remember, Heavy Rain doesn’t start with any rain at all, you’re waking up on a bright sunny day. Even if you haven’t played it, you’re fully aware of “Jason!” and him getting hit by the car. After that is the opening credits, and one of the first time’s you’ll hear a version of “Ethan Mars’ Main Theme.” It’s a very slow yet powerful song. The song is used throughout the game in both an orchestra version and a piano version, the intro has a combination of both. It’s a great song, even if it is a complete downer.

Scott Shelby’s Main Theme

The theme that accompanies Shelby is quiet, and barely there. That’s not an insult to the song, just a comment on how well it fits. Scott Shelby is barely there in the story, he starts off seemingly competent, then does a lot to make him look like a bumbling fool. Of course, it all turns around in probably the most memorable moment in the game. When Shelby is revealed as the killer, everything makes sense. Watching him dispose of the evidence one piece at a time, looking at all the people you thought you were helping. That’s a sharp turn, and it’s a great scene. Corbeil’s music takes a shift from unassuming to ominous, and playing the game a second time, knowing that Shelby is the killer, that theme helps make each scene more unsettling than it already is.

Norman Jayden’s Main Theme

This is a fine song, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was putting this on here for the first minute or so. The song starts off quietly, then slowly but surely builds up, then those horns! That stinger is the most memorable part of the whole thing for me. It has been my email tone for a couple of years now. And those piano notes that follow it are fantastic. Also, Jayden has the most chances to die in this game, and every time he does, those horns and the piano. This show’s the most in his Smoking Mirror ending. While it doesn’t have the piano, it still has that slow, foreboding buildup to the stinger. Such a great intro.

Action Sequences

I couldn’t really choose a single song from one of the many action sequences Corbeil did the music for, so I chose the video of the credits, which has most of the song’s in it. (In order, the songs are The Bulldozer, The Hold Up, The Chase, Countdown, and Looking for Shaun. The main reason I can’t pick one is that each song fits extremely well with the scene. Now, people could see that as a fault with the game, because each character seems to have a similar theme to their action sequence, but the music in each one is pretty good. Mad Jack and Jayden’s fight (The Bulldozer) is a brutal fight, and the song matches that, with hard swings and the feeling that someone is about to die. The Chase has a sense of urgency and panic, which goes well with a lot of Madison’s scenes. She seems to be running away or escaping something most of the time. To be honest, most of these have a strong sense of unease. It can be easy for the voice acting to pull you out of the scene (especially if you use the thought button), but the music does a great job of keeping the pressure on.

I’m looking forward to Beyond: Two Souls. It’s sad that it will be Normand Corbeil’s last work. If the score is even half as integral as the soundtrack from Heavy Rain, then it will be fantastic. Heavy Rain isn’t the best game on the PS3, not even close, but it is my favorite game, and one game I will remember for a long time. Corbeil’s work not only added to that experience, it was an important element. Without his score, I would not revere it as much as I do. Thank you Normand Corbeil, you will be missed.

15 Comments
16 Comments
Posted by RecSpec

When I learned last night that Normand Corbeil, the composer of Heavy Rain, passed away after a five month battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 56. I was crushed. It’s weird, it’s not like I knew much about the guy. I thought I should write something, but hell, what do I know? I can’t write about all of his music, he did quite a bit of film scores before his work in Heavy Rain, but I don’t know much about those. Here’s what I do know,I know that Heavy Rain’s soundtrack was fantastic. And it’s a shame that Corbeil passed away so soon. He was working on the score for Beyond: Two Souls as well. This isn’t an obituary, I'm nowhere near qualified to do such a thing. This is a tribute to the Heavy Rain soundtrack, which was brought to us because of Corbeil.Before I continue, I should get a few misconceptions out of the way. Normand Corbeil did the score for Heavy Rain, but that doesn’t mean all of the music. A lot of the music is from Audio Network, a place that sells music you can use for productions etc. Remember the song from the trailer? It’s a great song, but it wasn’t by Corbeil. That song is called Mars, and it’s on Audio Network. Any radio music, club music, etc. That wasn’t Corbeil’s work. I get how people would make that mistake, but I just wanted to get that out of the way, to dodge the inevitable “Why didn’t you talk about Mars?” comments.

One more side note. Between me and my brother and sister, Heavy Rain is pretty much OUR game. We have a lot of different opinions about games, but our love for Heavy Rain is the same for each of us. And you know what? Maybe it doesn’t deserve that much love. Looking at it today, it doesn’t look so hot. It has it’s flaws, but at the time it came out, such a goddamn fantastic ride. While The Walking Dead was making people go “Oh wow, the choices matter.” All I kept thinking was how much it reminded me of how Heavy Rain blew me away. We’ve had a lot of fun adding lyrics to some of Corbeil’s songs. (“Ethan’s sad, really sad” for Ethan’s theme. “Jayden. Is Dead. Jayden. Is Dead” for Jayden’s theme.) And there is the constant running joke between us that if you listen to Ethan’s theme long enough, it’ll turn into Aerith’s theme. Cloudy memory is possible, but I don’t think I can remember the last time someone in the industry’s death hit so hard as Corbeil’s did. A major part of this me, my brother, and sister’s love for Heavy Rain. Here are some of the songs from heavy rain that still stick with me, almost three years later.

Warning: There may be spoilers for Heavy Rain after this point.

Ethan Mars’ Main Theme

Corbeil’s song is the perfect introduction to the dark depressing world of Heavy Rain.

If you don’t remember, Heavy Rain doesn’t start with any rain at all, you’re waking up on a bright sunny day. Even if you haven’t played it, you’re fully aware of “Jason!” and him getting hit by the car. After that is the opening credits, and one of the first time’s you’ll hear a version of “Ethan Mars’ Main Theme.” It’s a very slow yet powerful song. The song is used throughout the game in both an orchestra version and a piano version, the intro has a combination of both. It’s a great song, even if it is a complete downer.

Scott Shelby’s Main Theme

The theme that accompanies Shelby is quiet, and barely there. That’s not an insult to the song, just a comment on how well it fits. Scott Shelby is barely there in the story, he starts off seemingly competent, then does a lot to make him look like a bumbling fool. Of course, it all turns around in probably the most memorable moment in the game. When Shelby is revealed as the killer, everything makes sense. Watching him dispose of the evidence one piece at a time, looking at all the people you thought you were helping. That’s a sharp turn, and it’s a great scene. Corbeil’s music takes a shift from unassuming to ominous, and playing the game a second time, knowing that Shelby is the killer, that theme helps make each scene more unsettling than it already is.

Norman Jayden’s Main Theme

This is a fine song, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was putting this on here for the first minute or so. The song starts off quietly, then slowly but surely builds up, then those horns! That stinger is the most memorable part of the whole thing for me. It has been my email tone for a couple of years now. And those piano notes that follow it are fantastic. Also, Jayden has the most chances to die in this game, and every time he does, those horns and the piano. This show’s the most in his Smoking Mirror ending. While it doesn’t have the piano, it still has that slow, foreboding buildup to the stinger. Such a great intro.

Action Sequences

I couldn’t really choose a single song from one of the many action sequences Corbeil did the music for, so I chose the video of the credits, which has most of the song’s in it. (In order, the songs are The Bulldozer, The Hold Up, The Chase, Countdown, and Looking for Shaun. The main reason I can’t pick one is that each song fits extremely well with the scene. Now, people could see that as a fault with the game, because each character seems to have a similar theme to their action sequence, but the music in each one is pretty good. Mad Jack and Jayden’s fight (The Bulldozer) is a brutal fight, and the song matches that, with hard swings and the feeling that someone is about to die. The Chase has a sense of urgency and panic, which goes well with a lot of Madison’s scenes. She seems to be running away or escaping something most of the time. To be honest, most of these have a strong sense of unease. It can be easy for the voice acting to pull you out of the scene (especially if you use the thought button), but the music does a great job of keeping the pressure on.

I’m looking forward to Beyond: Two Souls. It’s sad that it will be Normand Corbeil’s last work. If the score is even half as integral as the soundtrack from Heavy Rain, then it will be fantastic. Heavy Rain isn’t the best game on the PS3, not even close, but it is my favorite game, and one game I will remember for a long time. Corbeil’s work not only added to that experience, it was an important element. Without his score, I would not revere it as much as I do. Thank you Normand Corbeil, you will be missed.

Edited by pekoe212

This is so sad. :( The music in Heavy Rain really made that game, it was the beating heart of the story. I remember I paused while playing the game just to listen to this piano piece over and over. And I would venture to say it is the only time a piece of music in a video game has made me want to cry. R.I.P, Mr. Corbeil, and thank you so very much.

Posted by GunstarRed

Heavy Rain is a game that is very special to me, I have a real emotional connection to it, and at least half of my feelings are tied to the various pieces of music throughout. The more actiony stuff immediately grabs you, but it's the softer pieces that really stick with you like Madison's and Lauren's Themes. It really sucks that he is gone and I'm really interested in how Beyond and its musical score turn out.

Posted by DrThomas

This is excellent - thank you for writing it. RIP.

Posted by Branthog

There are so few moments in gaming where it feels weighty and emotional and like you're partaking in a unique experience that means more than face-shooting or ledge-hopping. A few special moments that give you chills and you think "oh shit, this is going to be something special". That someone is treating the experience you're about to have seriously. Despite so many flaws in Heavy Rain, the score accomplished all of that. The moment you put the game in and the music began to play, you couldn't help but be transported out of wherever you were sitting and into this separate world of possibility. The music all by itself was enough to make you feel like the game had some respect for you.

There are too many scores for games that just sound like cheap mimics. You can't get John Williams, but you can get a dude that sounds like him to make some stuff that sounds like every other bombastic score. But sometimes, you get something like this, that really sticks out and stays with you.

Also . . . I am desperately ready for Brad to do a playthrough of Heavy Rain. Not really long enough for an ER, but it'd be a blast. Especially since I'm sticking to David Cage's insistence that people only play it once and accept their story as their own.

Posted by TheHT

damn cancer.

Posted by zyn

I just learnt about this today. :(

R.I.P.

Posted by Quarters

Heavy Rain was a stellar game, and the music was a definite part of that. Just a fantastic soundtrack. I hope that he was able to finish Beyond before he died. Either way, sad news.

Posted by DarthOrange

I wanted to do something like this but didn't have the time, I'm glad to see someone make it. The soundtrack was a huge part of this game and I cannot image this game having any other score and still being as great.   

I agree with everything you said except this:  
@RecSpec said:  
 

   Maybe it doesn’t deserve that much love. Looking at it today, it doesn’t look so hot.


It is still to this day an amazing game and deserves all the praise it gets.  
 
 
 @Branthog said:

Especially since I'm sticking to David Cage's insistence that people only play it once and accept their story as their own.

As someone who has the platinum trophy in Heavy Rain, I have to say playing through it the numerous times that I did made me love it that much more. All things considered, no other game has as many different options for how your story can come out. There are entire sequences that change on depending on your choices and whether or not you succeed and it surprises me how much effort went into so many scenes that a large percentage of players will never see. 
 
 

Posted by Branthog

@DarthOrange said:

@Branthog said:

Especially since I'm sticking to David Cage's insistence that people only play it once and accept their story as their own.

As someone who has the platinum trophy in Heavy Rain, I have to say playing through it the numerous times that I did made me love it that much more. All things considered, no other game has as many different options for how your story can come out. There are entire sequences that change on depending on your choices and whether or not you succeed and it surprises me how much effort went into so many scenes that a large percentage of players will never see.

I've enjoyed sticking to my one play through and just discussing it with other people. One of the weirdest moments when I realized just how crazy the game had been, was when my brother and I discussed it. He was telling me about that part where the girl gets on the train and leaves town. The whole time, I'm sort of nodding and going "yeah... oh..kay...?" and not quite figuring out what part he was talking about. I just couldn't figure it out. It wasn't for several days when it occurred to me that the reason I didn't understand what he was talking about is that the girl he saw leave safely on a train died in a car wreck, because I screwed up the controls when we were submerged under water and I was unable to undo her seatbelt in time to save her!

That completely blew my mind.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

I forgot how great the music was in that game. Thanks for posting this. I wasn't familiar with his work other than Heavy Rain, but it's still a sad passing.

Moderator
Edited by MHumphreys89

No thoughts on Painful Memories? Easily the best score on the soundtrack for me. That's him, right?! I was meaning to say something on Twitter about the man seeing how I liked the game a whole lot... R.I.P.

Posted by Tebbit

Man, that's really sad. I loved that soundtrack - what a talented guy.

Edited by Dan_CiTi

While to me Heavy Rain was a very cool game it was well executed (including the music), it definitely fell apart by the end for me, and even where I chuckled at parts (even replaying the chase sequence in the grocery store and laughing at the animations for failing certain QTEs).

Anyway, rest in peace Mr. Corbeil, I can't wait to hear what you've done for Beyond.

Posted by ColdPhone

Very sad : / This was the first game soundtrack I went and acquired on my own, aside from FFVII when I was a kid. He was a very talented composer.

Posted by AlleyBoy81

Oh wow. I was only talking tonight about how when that small piece of music from Heavy Rain came on during the PlayStation Meeting I was instantly moved. So strong was the experience and the music that accompanied it that it took me right back as soon as I heard those notes. Very sad and a great talent lost.