Stones

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Stones
Composer David Watson
Released 1988-03-??
Title Origin Official

Stones is a song composed by David Watson, with lyrics added later by his wife Kathleen Jones. The song ties so closely to the Ultima series because Watson is close friends with the series creator, Richard Garriott, and both he and his wife were in-game characters in the series. The song was first heard in Ultima V: Warriors of Virtue (A2) and has been included in most Ultima games since. While Rule, Britannia! is featured in more Ultima games than any other song, Stones is the most popular original song in the series.

Title

David Watson named the song Stones because he was inspired to compose the song after seeing the stone circles of the Orkneys.

Composition

David Watson originally composed Stones without the Ultima series in mind. The song was originally written as an instrumental, but Watson's wife, Kathleen Jones, later penned lyrics for the song. It is currently unknown when the song or the lyrics were first written.

The song is broken up into two main sections. The first contains a series of rapid notes in the melody with breaks involving tuplets. The second section has more rests and usually uses staccato on its notes. The melody of Stones is usually played with a haunting reverberating sound and given only a sparse harmony.

Games

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (A2)

Platform - A2.png
Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (A2)
Arranger Ken Arnold
Released 1988-03-??
Format UNK

Stones made its very first appearance in the Apple II version of Ultima V. Aside from playing when the party camps for the night, the song plays an important role in a quest, and you even have to learn to play the song in the game. The song is taught to you by Lord Kenneth (the in-game persona of Ken Arnold). The song loops in this game.

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (C64)

Platform - C64.png
Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (C64)
Output - SID.svg
Ultima 5 - C64 - Camping.png
Arranger Ken Arnold
Released 1988-??-??
Length 2:30.38
Format SID

In the Commodore 128 version of the game, Stones functions the same as the Apple II version. It sounds quite similar, and is played in all the same places. The song is rendered on the SID chip, which gives is a nice harpsichord and church-bell sound.

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (AST)

Platform - AST.png
Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (AST)
Arranger Welly Beben
Released 1989-??-??
Format SNDH


Ultima VI: The False Prophet (DOS)

Platform - DOS.png
Ultima VI: The False Prophet (DOS)
Output - Roland.svg
Output - OPL2.svg
Output - Philips.svg
Output - Tandy.svg
Ultima 6 - DOS - Camp.png
Arranger Herman Miller
Released 1990-??-??
Length 2:32
Format M

A similar quest to play Stones exists in Ultima VI, this time on the panpipes with help from Gwenno (the in-game persona of Kathleen Jones). The song is also one of the four tunes randomly played after conversations and is also the song played upon camping. Stones loops in this game.

The Roland MT-32 version of the song has the highest fidelity and the closest sound to true instruments. The AdLib version sounds more like a synthesizer, but is still quite nice, almost like a theremin. The Creative Music System version has a high level of reverb from the SAA1099 chips, making the song sound even more haunting. The Tandy 3 Voice has the lowest fidelity, and with its limited voices, can't handle all the harmonics, though the song is still very recognizable.

The song file is named Stones.m.

Ultima VII: The Black Gate (DOS)

Platform - DOS.png
Ultima VII: The Black Gate (DOS)
Output - Roland.svg
Output - OPL2.svg
Ultima 7 - DOS - Moongate.png
Arranger Dana Glover
Released 1992-04-16
Length 2:11.08
Format MIDI

Ultima VII makes use of Stones as the theme for the, now dangerous, moongates, and you will hear the tune each time you approach one. Other than Rule, Britannia!, this is the only song that was reused from earlier Ultima games. You will also hear the song play at the Wisps castle and at Iolo's house, which is fitting since the song was composed by David Watson, the real-life counterpart of Iolo. Due to a code bug, the song doesn't loop in this game, though it was intended to loop.

Dana Glover rearranged the song with a slightly different structure, and minor changes to some notes. The song has three sections, the first dominated by acoustic guitar and flute, played at a fair speed. The second is a slightly slower section with less guitar. The third section is a repeat of the second section, but with more instruments. The full song uses 8 instrumental tracks. The melody is played on two nylon guitars each playing the same notes, one in the left stereo channel, the other in the right. The harmony of the first section is played on a shakuhachi (a Japanese bamboo flute). The harmony of the second section features a bassoon and pizzicato strings. The harmony in the third section keeps the pizzicato strings, but replaces the bassoon with the shakuhachi and adds a very muted string section. Throughout the whole song, except for the solo guitar intro, there is a bass and bass drum keeping beat.

The song is number 22 in the game files.

This version of stones also appears as track 12 on the Origin Soundtrack Series, Vol. 2

Ultima: Runes of Virtue (GB)

Platform - GB.png
Ultima: Runes of Virtue (GB)
Arranger Amanda Dee
Released 1992-07-??
Format GBS


Ultima VII, Part Two: Serpent Isle (DOS)

Platform - DOS.png
Ultima VII, Part Two: Serpent Isle (DOS)
Arranger Dana Glover
Released 1993-03-25
Format MIDI

You can hear Stones on the magic music box in the Inn of the Sleeping Bull. If Iolo is in your party he will complain about having to listen to Stones yet again. The song uses the same file as Part 1 of Ultima VII.

Since this song is the same as the Black Gate soundtrack, it also appears as track 12 on the Origin Soundtrack Series, Vol. 2

Ultima Online (W32)

Platform - W32.png
Ultima Online (W32)
Arranger Unknown
Released 1997-09-30
Format MIDI


Ultima IX: Ascension (W32)

Platform - W32.png
Ultima IX: Ascension (W32)
Arranger George Oldziey
Released 1999-10-31
Format UNK

A wonderfully arranged version of Stones on actual instruments was created by George Oldziey. The song again is part of a quest where the player must play the song on an in-game instrument.

Ultima Online: Lord Blackthorn's Revenge (W32)

Platform - W32.png
Ultima Online: Lord Blackthorn's Revenge (W32)
Arranger Unknown
Released 2002-02-12
Format UNK


Lyrics

This song has lyrics, though no game uses them.

Long ago ran the sun on a folk who had a dream
And the heart and the will and the power:
They moved earth; they carved stone; moulded hill and channeled stream
That we might stand on the wide plains of Wiltshire.

Now men asked who they were, how they built and wonder why
That they wrought standing stones of such size.
What was done 'neath our shade? What was pray'ed 'neath our skies
As we stood on the wyrd plains of Wiltshire.

Oh what secrets we could tell if you'd listen and be still.
Rid the stink and the noise from our skirts.
But you haven't got the clue and perhaps you never will.
Mute we stand on the cold plains of Wiltshire.

Still we loom in the mists as the ages roll away
And we say of our folk, "they are here!"
That they built us and they died and you'll not be knowing why
Save we stand on the bare plains of Wiltshire.

Sheet Music

Links