Monday, September 12, 2011

Theme music of Dark•Heritage

I've occasionally blogged about my love of movie music soundtracks as backdrops to my game, and I like to "tailor" that soundtrack by picking stuff that fits, is diverse enough to give a broad spectrum of sounds, yet which is unified at least enough by mood that it never feels out of place.  I listen to this "soundtrack" while running the game, while working on the game, while writing stuff on the setting, while working on my novel set in the setting, and while generally tinkering with it in any way.  After some time, I've decided that I've narrowed all my various soundtracks down to a few that encapsulate the setting as I envision it.  I've divided it into "required" and "optional"--with the optional albums obviously giving a more full-bodied and diverse range of sounds and moods.  Although since Hans Zimmer features so strongly on the list, maybe there's not a lot of diversity after all.  And while I say movie soundtracks, and that's mostly true, there is one very notable video game soundtrack on the "required" list too.

Required Listening

• Red Dead Redemption -- minus the "pop country" songs at the end of the soundtrack.
• Cowboys & Aliens
• Sherlock Holmes
• Pirates of the Caribbean (in a pinch, you could just go with 4, or 4 and either 2 or 3.  I have all four, of course.  The first one is the best, but it's poorly mastered, so it actually sticks out when mixed with other soundtracks--I often leave it off.)
• The Wolfman (the newer one, by Danny Elfman, of course.  Not the older original movie soundtrack.  Which I doubt is even available.)
• Bram Stoker's Dracula -- although a bit of judiciousness about the track selection is recommended.  The Annie Lennox song really doesn't fit, and some of the more "romantic" themes are also a bit jarring.
• Indiana Jones (I've got all four, but honestly, John Williams was really phoning in the songs for Crystal Skull.  In a pinch, just use Raiders.)
• The Mummy -- again, I've got all three, but the first one is the one that's really the best.
• Prince of Persia.  Don't use the Alannis Morrisette song, obviously.

In a real pinch, if you had to narrow it down to even fewer soundtracks, I'd recommend Red Dead Redemption, Pirates 2 (or 4), Prince of Persia and The Wolfman.

Optional Adds

• Inception.
• Transformers 3 -- this actually sounds like it wants to be Inception.  The two of them together blend pretty seamlessly into each other if you aren't paying attention.
• Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.  I imagine when the third of that trilogy comes out, it'll be a good fit too.
• Stargate -- has great "adventure" themes, and a touch of dark Egyptian exotica that complements the Indiana Jones and Mummy soundtracks well.
• Last of the Mohicans -- although only the first nine tracks or so.  This CD is bizarrely bipolar.
• A few other of the recent superhero movies have a nice dark action sound to them, and could be used: either Hulk, Thor, the Spider-mans, the X-Men movies, Green Lantern, etc. 
• There's some other really good sword & sorcery like soundtracks -- the newer Clash of the Titans, 10,000 BC, Troy, Gladiator, the newer (or the older too) Conan the Barbarian, etc.
• Master and Commander
• The only point about adding too many of the optional soundtracks is that it starts to dilute the influence of the Required ones.  I'd be very judicious about adding too many of them.  In fact, I prefer to rip the entire desired soundtrack (as mp3 files) to a single CD-R, which naturally limits my ability to use too much, but also makes sure that it stays more focused on the "correct" sounds and mood.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

Well, I discovered a bunch of "unreleased" Red Dead Redemption music (I presume ripped directly from the game, and then converted into youtube videos--which I then converted into mp3) so I decided to go ahead and make that CD-R I was talking about. Sadly, 700 megabytes didn't go as far as I'd hoped.

Maybe I should have re-ripped everything into a lower bitrate to save space, but that would have been very tedious and time-consuming, so instead I just made a lot of hard choices and had to cut a lot of stuff. Plenty of the new RDR stuff I just mentioned didn't make it. I had to cut Cowboys & Aliens entirely, Stargate was down to one track, I had hoped to include the Godfather (although I forgot to mention it in the post) but had to cut it down to one or two tracks. Pirates 1 was cut, and I had to trim a few songs out of the other three. I had to trim a few tracks from Raiders, including the End Credits and Marion's Theme (trusting that the themes will appear in other tracks, even as I couldn't remember off-hand which tracks were which). I trimmed a few from The Mummy, and I took Dracula off entirely, having to let Wolfman stand in for the gothic, Victorian horror sound. I also had to cut the Undead Redemption soundtrack, which I suspected from the get-go anyway.

Even so, I'm quite happy with the CD-R; I threw it in my car this morning and listened to a bit of the new RDR songs. But after that, the whole thing is probably better put on shuffle where I can mix in the cowboy stuff, the pirate stuff, the Arabian Nights stuff and the gothic horror stuff and have it all come up as a melange of influences that encapsulates what Dark•Heritage is to me.