Sunday, May 17, 2009

Music

Have you ever used music in a game? I've seen it done. I've done it myself a few times. Get just the right track going for that good battle scene, or play some regional music to set the mood...

I think the best success I had at this was when I was running a Mage game set in 1945. The players were trying to acquire artifacts that had been distributed around the world as they attempt to prevent a doomsday device from falling into enemy hands... in the course of this game, they travelled to Australia, Uzbekistan, a tiny island nation called Nauru, France, Prague, and New Mexico. For each game session, I put on a CD of the music appropriate to the location. In Australia, I had a CD of aboriginal music in the background. I found the top ten radio tracks from the US in 1945, as well as the top ten radio hits in France the same year. And so forth.

But what I've always wanted to do was to create a "soundtrack." I'd like to have music appropriate to whatever scene is going on: rousing music for a battle scene, upbeat music for a travel scene, suspenseful music for a creepy scene, and so forth. I've tried a few times, but it's often quite difficult to achieve. For one, it's usually hard to switch CDs when you switch scenes (of course, with the advent of mp3 players, this is much easier now; just programme playlists for each type of mood). For another, what music do you choose?
Soundtracks are always good for this. Many movies have great music, and even if the movie wasn't of the same genre as the game you're playing, the music can still fit the mood! But don't overlook other sources as well.

Earlier today, I attended a performance of choral church music; it was stunning. And part of me thought, "This would be great for if the characters are in a cathedral at some point!" There's some really good classical music out there too. Another venue is folk music; the song "Fuggi Fuggi Fuggi" is a great tune for comedic scenes.

Perhaps some of you have heard of the D&D soundtrack? Not the film, but the "official roleplaying soundtrack" commissioned by Wizards of the Coast from Midnight Syndicate. It was pretty good, I thought. They covered most of the relevant themes. But in a single CD, that means there's not a lot of time devoted to each theme...

One more point before I let you go for the week. Remember the last post, where I talked about the GURPS Fantasy game where the players created their own races? One of the other players, the creator of the Ængoa, downloaded some audio files of elephants and used it to create "the music of the Ængoa." I was inspired, so I created the music of the Staglings. Another player asked me to make a track for his race, so I created a song for the Feyad-Akeen.

In my opinion, that's the way to go. Create your own music... easy to do with a lot of accesible software!

Anyway, that's it for this week. Until next time, 

Game on!

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