So speaking of a soundtrack, I like music.
I actually like music a lot. I like to think I’m something of a musical person. I regularly play the guitar and the piano, and have in the past played guitar, piano, bass, trumpet, tuba, harmonica, and boomwhackers. I took music all through high school, was in the stage band and jazz band, and played in a rock band until recently. When I listen to music, which I do a lot, I listen to just about anything and everything–very little rap or hiphop, only a bit of country, not a lot of heavy metal, but just about everything else has a place on my computer, from Bach to Barenaked Ladies, from Led Zeppelin to Lady Gaga.
But some of the music that I find myself listening to most often–including right now, as I write this–is soundtracks. Movie soundtracks, like the Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Firefly, but even more often, video game soundtracks–Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, Chrono Trigger, Metroid, and dozens more.
It’s a phenomenon that’s been growing and getting more media attention recently–as events like Video Games Live illustrate. Some of the more recent music to come out of video games is simply gorgeous, epic scores with nuance and full orchestral arrangements. But some of my favourites are still the old ones–maybe not quite as old as the original Super Mario Bros., if only because it’s the same 30-second clip over and over, but even once you get to the Super NES there’s some brilliant music out there. Final Fantasy VI is still a favourite, Super Metroid has some great moments, and I’m listening to Chrono Trigger right now. There’s some brilliant musical composition to be found here. And yes, part of the appeal may be nostalgia–these are all games I played a lot growing up–but I still defend their musicality.
And boy, any time I hear an orchestral arrangement or remix of some of that old music, I nearly tear up. The Super Smash Bros. Brawl soundtrack was particularly spectacular, because it took a lot of the classic music and created new arrangements, took 30-second repeating clips and made it into great music.
Besides the pure musicality of it–catchy, singable melodies, fasninating harmonies and counterpoint–video game music has an amazing ability to evoke certain moods or certain situations. After all, that’s what it was written for–the battle song, the village song, the resting song, etc. And so I find it great for listening to while I’m writing. If I’m writing a tense fight scene, I can have music that puts me in the right mood, and I can write that emotion, the frantic pacing, that much better.
And so I’ve actually created a number of different playlists for all sorts of situations, which I can flip to whenever I need to in order to better facilitate the atmosphere I’m trying to create in my writing. And when I say “a number,” I mean about three dozen.
About a third of the music on my computer comes from movies and video game soundtracks. Most of the top-listened-to songs are from soundtracks. And I know there’s a lot more out there that I haven’t heard yet, that I know I’ll like.
I just wish I had more time to be able to appreciate it all. But that’s for a different post.