Author: Chris Wickham
The Jade Forest is located on the eastern coast of Pandaria, and is the landing site for Horde and Alliance forces, following the infamous naval battle that crippled both sides. Upon their arrival, both factions form uneasy alliances with the aquatic jinyu and the primate hozen, which leads to an escalation in hostility in the region and the increase in the Sha, a physical embodiment of negative energy. The region is populated by lush rainforests and towering stone spires, with the mighty Temple of Jade Serpent lying on the central eastern coast, now ruled by the Sha that both Horde and Alliance have unwittingly helped grow in power.
The wealth of music that can be heard in this area is staggering, mostly likely due to the sheer size of the region and its associated lore. All of these cues follow the quintessential sonic palette that embodies Mists of Pandaria. The small number of excerpts heard here accompany the players on their travels between the forest’s landmarks. They are luscious, like the surrounding forest, and skilfully blend the expressive talents of the erhu, the vocal quality of the dizi and the mystical stylings of the guzheng with the traditional orchestra. Given that the Jade Forest is the landing site for both the Alliance and Horde, the soundtracks acts a marriage between the native music of Pandaria and rest of Azeroth. The traditional orchestra pulses in the background with an arrangement that listeners will associate with battle, whilst Pandaria’s identity is protected with the authentic use of the Chinese instrumentation. The Horde and Alliance have brought their continuing feud to this spiritual land, while the Pandaren remain loyal to their pacifist ways.
When the two styles aren't at odds, they combine flawlessly within the Jade Forest, creating a subdued arrangement of ethereal choirs, airy strings and noble brass melodies. The Chinese instrumentation dances over the top with a feeling of improvisation, showcasing the talents of the instrument masters that were brought in to bring Pandaria to life. The general tone is hopeful but cautious; the Pandaria are weary of the conflict the Horde and Alliance have brought to their ancient homeland, but is within their interests to form alliances to protect Azeroth's future.