Audiological Tributes

I must be completely honest and admit that my MP3 Player (or DAP if you are feeling politically correct) probably has a musical dichotomy that sits at about 40% songs and 59% music from video games. The residual 1% is podcasts and audio-lectures, but that is a whole other story. When I realised this shocking fact yesterday morning, I wondered if it was really necessary to have so much ambient, lyric-less music on a device that I primarily use to distract myself from the world at large. However I also realised that, of the vast repository of video game music that I carry with me every day, a decent portion of it is not actually ambient, and some isn’t directly from the game at all!

As it turns out, some of the tracks that I listen to the most often are in fact tribute songs to games; not cheesy parodies that reference someone playing the game, but real and genuine songs that reference the world that the game takes place in. I suppose it somewhat shocked me to realise just how much this happens. In fact The Witcher (in its secondary incarnation) comes with an entire album of such tribute songs written by bands who genuinely love the world described by the books and game. One of these bands is a very famous Polish metal group!

While heavy metal might not be your cup of tea, the album is laced with samples from every genre from Reggae to A Capella to Grunge Rock to Classical. The fact that so many artists were inspired enough to write music based upon the world of the Witcher was astounding, but it doesn’t stop there. The cross-pollination between gaming and music runs deeper than you might initially think, though the parallels have precedence, especially in the realm of movie-song tie-ins. Another favourite of mine is the closing credits track to Mass Effect, a song by post-punk group The Faunts called M4 (Part 2):

This piece does not just play over the credits, but the theme and mood of the song perfectly compliments the final moments of the game in such a way that rarely leaves me with a dry pair of eyes. In addition, if you listen carefully during the bridge/outro, the melody line is eerily reminiscent of the Mass Effect theme music itself! The two work together so well, using similar instrumentation and cadence that manages to extend your immersion well into the credit sequence as you reflect on what just happened in the games final moments. This is a perfect example of game development at its finest; dare I say a work of art.

Of course, another example that immediately jumps to mind is mildly camp rap that plays over the closing credits to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This one… I’m not so proud of, but a scientist knows he must not introduce a selection bias when presenting data.

There is, of course, one more venue that I have not yet discussed, and that is the fertile plains of homebrew musical recreations and craftings that grow at the holy mecca of I have not omitted it by accident, nor out of spite. I plan on talking about that very soon in Episode 3 of the Anchorage Podcast (coming soon!); three episodes down and two to go before I have my 5 episode buffer that I believe will allow me to continue posting them on a regular schedule.

Lastly but not leastly: Please take a brief moment out of your hectic life to vote for me here at the iiNet Top Geek competition! Shameless self promotion? Sure, but it is my party and I will cry if it so pleases me.

Do you have any favourite game soundtracks? Do you ever find yourself listening to a soundtrack outside the act of gaming?

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