Author: Chris Wickham
Kalimdor is the western landmass of the world of Azeroth, formed after the Great Sundering split the single landmass into separate islands. Kalimdor was the sole domain to the night elves for millennia, but they learnt to live in harmony with other races such as trolls and tauren as they emerged as powers in their own right. The continent was largely untouched by the races of the Eastern Kingdoms until the Third War, when an attack by the Burning Legion necessitated the arrival of humans and orcs to aid the night elves at The Battle of Mount Hyjal, a conflict foretold by Medivh. The geography and landscape of Kalimdor is as diverse as its eastern cousin; the northern region is home to icy plains, dense alpine forests and tropical climates while the central and southern regions primarily consist of rugged savannahs and vast deserts.
The cataclysm arguably had the greatest impact on Kalimdor - several coastlines were left completely transformed and the land surrounding the powerful world tree Nordrassil continues to burn to this day. Subsequently, a lot of the music composed by David Arkenstone for the Cataclysm expansion accompanies the transformed Kalimdor, most notably 'The Ruins of Auberdine' for Darkshore and the eponymous 'Nordrassil' for Mount Hyjal. Arkenstone's talents lie in exotic instrumentation and unconventional percussion. In an interview with Music of Warcraft, he explains his use of native flutes and hide drums to create an 'earthy' soundscape for the tauren, as well as bells and metal plates to produce a violent sonic palette for the orcs. However, some of the regions retain their iconic themes that were composed for them in the two hours' worth of music that shipped with the original release. Russell Brower, Senior Director of Audio at Blizzard Entertainment, comments that the music of 'vanilla' WoW was composed in groups to accompany similar locations such as cities, forests and taverns. Brower also comments that the music of the original release, compared to Burning Crusade, do not have much of 'a life outside the game.' However, I expect this statement will be met with opposition by long-term players, many of which have formed a special connection with these nostalgic soundscapes.