Although metal, for many of us, is our go-to musical style, that first love you just can’t seem to forget, we occasionally flirt with and dabble in other genres. Today we’re talking about another style of music I enjoy from time to time, especially when I need mood music for concentrated work. So fire up your favorite 8-mm films, because we’re talking soundtracks.
Earlier this week I drew attention to Trent Reznor’s excellent work on the Quake video game. Our good friend Hubert shared an insightful video retrospective on Quake in the comments. In that video, commentator Errant Signal opined that Reznor’s soundtrack acted in perfect harmony with the gameplay to create a drab, violent world that suffocated players in a misanthropic isolation of youthful disdain. It worked because that is exactly the nature and feel of Quake. The rest of the analysis of the game, including its historical significance, is fascinating and a definite recommendation.
There are a number of other video games with scored that match perfectly the tone and vibe of the game world. Similarly, masterful film scores, composed by greats like Ennio Morricone, John Carpenter, and John Williams add so much depth and color to the movies they accompany. It’s difficult to think of films like The Two Towers or The Thing without the iconic scores that accentuated them.
One of my absolute favorite pieces from a film and a perfect example of how a single composition, when written well, can encapsulate the drama and emotion of the visuals and characterization is Clint Mansell’s “Lux Aeterna.” The piece, used as the main theme for Requiem for a Dream is dark, foreboding, and portentous, yet also beautiful, fragile, and multifaceted. The vibrant, sonorous strings tell a story of sadness and longing and ambition, one that crystallizes the mounting severity of the film and leaves listeners with cold and despondency after its climax. Simply put, it is perfect for the film and demonstrates the power a well-executed soundtrack can carry.
I typically use soundtracks as mood music. Stirring, epic works like “Lux Aeterna” can give my mind a jolt of adrenaline and stave off boredom or stupor without actually distracting me with vocals, so when I have mentally-intensive work to accomplish or even need to focus on grading a large number of assignments, soundtracks are often my first choice for music.
This is only one example, though, and I’d like to hear some of your favorite game or film soundtracks. When do you like to listen to these compositions? Is there a particular piece that moves you?
Sound off in the commentz below.