Author: Chris Wickham
Dun Morogh is the snow-swept mountainous home to the illustrious dwarven kingdom and their capital city of Ironforge, possibly the Alliance's busiest trading and transport hub. Also taking up residence here are the ingenious Gnomes, who now reside in New Tinkertown after their former kingdom Gnomerergan succumbed to a huge trogg infestation. The region is located within Khaz Modan in the northern Eastern Kingdoms, and boasts a perpetual blanket of snow over rugged mountains and a sparse pine woodland; a tranquil stillness that gives the land a certain beauty. The landscape’s wintry splendour is deceptive however, as errant trolls and Frostmane trolls dot the landscape, as well as many other species of ravenous creatures which may threaten the smaller dwarven outposts that dot the landscape.
Much like Winterspring, its wintry cousin to the west, Dun Morogh's soundscape consists of a wide selection of compositional variations known as Mountain by Jason Hayes. The initial variations that accompanied the original release of World of Warcraft no doubt hold a nostalgic place in many players' hearts, and are still audible in the game. However, when the cataclysm reshaped the Azeroth the players knew and loved, many of these iconic pieces were subject to new arrangements and orchestration. Some of these reimaginings are discussed in more detail on the Winterspring blog but as the original Dun Morogh is so essential to the veteran player’s experience, I have chosen to only discuss the original variations.
These original variations opens with a brief harp and oboe duet, tinged with tragedy. The harp later takes a potent mystical role, occasionally joining with the piano to accompany grand expansive string arrangements that reflect the scope of this stoic land and its rich dwarven heritage. In a general sense, all variations employ a harmony which wanders between the enigmatic and insecure, to the more patriotic and hopeful. A solo ‘cello occasionally becomes more prominent, but is once again succumbed by sadness, woefully weaving in and out of the ensemble. High icy strings are sustained throughout the majority of the cues, almost glinting off the rest of the ensemble like the sun glinting off the frozen land.
The dangers that the grand landscape of Dun Morogh unfortunately now herald are emphasised in the later night time variations, which begin at 4:28. The icy strings continue to shimmer gracefully over the top of the ensemble, while the mournful 'cello returns. The sparser arrangement of ethereal choral arrangements and intermittent piano allows the 'cello phrases to breathe and accent its beautiful, expressive timbre. Players later experience various ethnic and exotic flutes perform with an improvised feel, accompanied by a tabla which possesses its own sense of rhythmic freedom and nervous tremolo strings. The variations conclude with a subtle cacophony of synthesisers, strings and tuned percussion, while a solitary sombre piano fades into the night.