2017 Soundtrack Saturdays

 

 

Jan. 7

Parallel Waters [NOW UNAVAILABLE]

A track from the Chasing Shadows OST, Parallel Waters is a -Space soundscape. Like the articles that bear the same name, it attempts to describe what lies within Poria-Space but through the spectrum of sound.

Like other Poria music, it is meant to sound mechanical and metallic, but this piece is more ambient. Low rumbles and sustained drones are meant to invoke the feeling of passing by worlds inhabited by the orderly and volcanic peoples of Parallelium. However, unlike the Poria music based on geographic locations or specific Omneuttians, this piece waxes and wanes out of any feeling of rhythmic continuity to eschew the order the Poria are known for.

Jan. 14

National Park (Pokemon: HG/SS)

In honor of #NACVGM, here’s a great track from Heart Gold/Soul Silver.

Have a great weekend.

Jan. 21

Lonely Heights

Another track from the ($1!) Pale Shores EP.  I thought since we’re all back to work/school after the (hopefully pleasant) Holiday season, we could use a helpful nudge to relax sometimes.

This selection jumps back and forth mainly between two chords – one higher, one lower. The track begins with these two chords, and begins to explore some different harmonic options with the original rhythm, and then vice versa later on. Some light wind accompanies this journey.

Jan. 28

Kogoeria (Spectrobes: Origins)

A winter wonderland track from one of my favourite video game series, Spectrobes. The series was Disney’s attempt to get into Pokémon’s territory. It ultimately failed (please make another game), but along the way it produced some great music.

This track is similar to the rest of the soundtrack’s departure from what was the Spectrobes norm of music – synth rock inspired tunes. Instead, we get a theme for a barren ice-planet that really feels like it fits. There’s minimal aspects here that feel nice and chilly: a couple percussion instruments, a flute that sounds more like a wooden flute than metal, and a couple of synth pads to set the atmosphere.

Feb. 11

Forest Temple (Zelda: Ocarina of Time)

A memorable track from one of my favourite games of all time, the Forest Temple theme from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

The track starts off with what I believe is the most memorable aspect of the track, the delayed and repeated wooden percussion sound. Some may find the sound creepy but perhaps the sheer time I spent in this temple cumulatively throughout my life has rendered the sound endearing. Anyway, there’s a synth pad and a woodwind that trade off the same melody, however the woodwind plays it much faster than the synth (the synth also doesn’t play the entire line) and this creates a really cool disorienting effect.

Feb. 18

New Growth

Another track from the ($1) Matriarch Grove EP. It’s peaceful and calming. Everyone could use some more of that, right?

It opens in the same way as all other Quarryn music, stating the harmonic context of the upcoming music and drifts between soothing and a tempo with pace. It hints at the new growth across Matriarch Grove with these faster sections, a sentiment of hope for the future. It begins to slow dramatically around halfway through and becomes more of a calming rhythm for the duration of the piece.

Feb. 25

Trailer 1 Music (Zelda: Breath of the Wild)

Okay, so I have no idea if this music will be in the game, or in the soundtrack, but as our first musical taste of the new Zelda game (coming out next week!) I though it was important to showcase. A departure from Nintendo’s normal style when it comes to Zelda music, it’s a beautiful piece that takes more inspiration from romantics like Chopin.

It starts out with an arpeggiation that invokes what the game’s creators are using instead of ‘open-world’ to describe the game, instead calling it an ‘open-air’ game. The phrase builds and rolls into new beautiful chords that slowly turn into a new arrangement of a recognizable Zelda melody. The piece shifts into a heroic mood as it slows down until it cuts to some faster paced music that highlights action in the trailer itself, which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rPxiXXxftE&t

Apr. 15

Sunken Mysteries [NOW UNAVAILABLE]

Soundtrack Saturday resumes!
A track from the Chasing Shadows Original Soundtrack (now discounted) that tells the story of diving for treasure underwater.It starts off with one instrument arpeggiating over a chord, slowly adding in more drone and percussive layers. A glockenspiel fades in and out as the original arpeggiations fade out and are replaced by new rhythms that eventually cascade upwards.
Apr. 22

The Bad News (Horizon Zero Dawn)

A new open world adventure from Guerrilla Games, Horizon Zero Dawn features robot dinosaurs (a very reductionist telling of the world) and a female protagonist.

The Bad News illustrates the protagonist’s sense of aloneness, isolation, and feeling overwhelmed through the use of strings playing a haunting melody, and drums, mechanical drones, and synthesized/digitized piano to carve out a layer amongst the deeper frequencies.

Apr. 29

Divine Forge

Another track from the (FREE!) Environmental Atmospheres EP up on Bandcamp.

The track begins with an introduction to what is saved as a software instrument in my folder as ‘Deity Bells’. Aptly named, they’re the most prominent feature in the harmonic underpinning of future Deity music. An arpeggiating harp sits underneath a choir that slides hauntingly between orchestral chime hits.

May 6

Trials (Halo 5)

The newest mainline Halo game, and the first one in 343i’s new trilogy (Halo 4 doesn’t count, please and thank you), and a wonderful return to classic Halo themes and less tech presence in the soundtrack by Kazuma Jinnouchi.

The Trials begins with some low strings and a synth before becoming very Halo with french horns and the drums we’ve come to love. Sweeping strings get us pumped with a nice trumpet line on the top, and we’re into an arrangement of 117, one of the few standout themes from Halo 4’s soundtrack. Low strings and piano pound away with the drums before the horns come back in to sweep us along to the next theme. Some light transition materials crescendos us to the Mjolnr theme after the snare drum is introduced, traded back and forth from strings to brass. The track leads out with drums, strings and low piano.

May 13

Curse’s Introduction [NOW UNAVAILABLE]

This track, from the Chasing Shadows OST (now on sale) is the general battle music for Reykata.

Belonging as much in a horror film about Silicon Valley as in a sci-fi anachronistic fantasy novel’s soundtrack, Curse’s Introduction, combines low rumbling piano with technical glitches, convoluted samples of metallic hits and reversed percussion to create an overwhelming sense of whatever this music represents is wrong or not-normal.

May 20

Atop The World (Tower of Heaven)

A simple little game, with a gorgeous (and simple) soundtrack. The rules of the game are simple to understand and simple to follow, the trick is in the rules themselves.

After a brief 8-bit intro, slow strings introduce us to the piano solo that flashygoodness derived the whole soundtrack from. It’s a short piece at just over 1’, but captivating and emotional.

May 27

Re:Currents

A fan (and composer) favourite, Re:Currents is back with a more polished sound, now on YouTube!

The vibraphone ostinato with the 16th note delay continues throughout, with a choir during chord changes. A legato horn accompanies the vibraphone and choir, pausing to allow a subtly redone cello solo accompany the end of a section.

Jun. 3

A Survivor is Born (Tomb Raider 2013)

I can’t believe I haven’t covered this game yet. Jason Graves did an amazing job, and while I should definitely start with the main theme, there’s a lot of great work that he created with an invented instrument that comprises a good deal of the soundtrack. I’ll get to that some day.

For the first minute and a half, slow strings and a french horn lead closer and closer to the main theme, with a harp thrown in once for good measure. When the drums come in, we get Lara’s triumphant new theme to mark the rebirth of a franchise. Just after the two minute mark is the original piano demo that Graves recorded of Lara’s theme, reworked into the actual main theme on the soundtrack.

Jun. 10

Niuavi

Another personal favourite from the Chasing Shadows soundtrack returns in a more polished form.

A couple of acoustic guitars in the style of the Avotoc provide both the background and foreground, with some digital instruments providing the middleground. The plodding along with the bright guitar melody over the top invokes the beachside lifestyle of the skeleton people, while the digital effects harkens back to a time in the past.

Jun. 17

Secunda (Skyrim)

I seriously can’t believe I haven’t covered this game either. Skyrim is not only a great game (fantasy is more my thing, and Bethesda bought the Fallout franchise), but it has a great soundtrack from an industry great in Jeremy Soule.

The piece opens with some sort of harp or plucked string, doubled by the piano in the upper voice after a few repeats. This combination continues for a while until the piano drops out for a clearer upper harp repetition that is joined by some winds and strings, which give out to a female voice as the piece ends with a wide vibrato in a flute.

Jul. 1

Final Battle (Spectrobes: Origins)

I really love this game. Spectrobes Origins is the third game in a series that very well could have been a more grown-up Pokémon series that Gamefreak could learn from, but that’s a whole different story. The series is now defunct, because Pokémon owns the market for these kinds of games. Anyway, music:

Throughout the majority of this orchestrated piece, there’s a lightning quick piano line in the upper register that reinforces the high tensity nature of the game’s final fight. The marching drums keep pace with and without the piano to keep the track moving and drive home the militaristic/fighting nature of what you’re doing, with high winds and brass fanfare before the middle section softens to mostly piano, electronics and drums before returning to the high-intensity theme. This cycles a couple times.

Jul. 8

Kolegi z Niejwiedz [NOW UNAVAILABLE]

A track from the Piano Arrangements of Chasing Shadows OST. Now on sale for $1 until September!

This track is set up as a piano duet, trading off the arpeggiation from time to time. The piece is made up mostly of contrasting, fun, dissonant chords to illustrate the nature of the material studied at the College of Lesser Knowns.

Jul. 15

Dead Town (Jak 2)

Another great game. Completely different in the setting from the previous game, even with guns it plays so much like its predecessor, which contributed greatly to Jak 2’s success.

The music represents a lot of what really works with Jak 2’s departure from the original game. The gritty, futuristic percussion and digital effects help illustrate the shambles that are Dead Town. Even with that, the pace of the piece is surprisingly uptempo, keeping consistent with the tone of the previous game.

Jul. 22

Parallelium EP

Soundtrack Saturday; NEW MUSIC!

Fair warning, the Night Music tracks are composed with science in mind that shows what kind of music is most effective at inducing high-quality sleep.

Jul. 29

Cave (Zelda: Breath of the Wild)

Now that the game is actually out (and the first expansion pass came out last month), let’s take a look at one of my favourite tracks from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Not heavy on orchestration, is is a great representation of what much of the music in the game is.

This piece offers a very similar style to the Ice Cavern from Ocarina of Time, the level where you get the Iron Boots. Here, the piano offers up arpeggiations in a similar fashion to the bells from Ice Cavern, while digital wooshes take the place of sampled air/wind. Very simple and restrained, complimenting the structures it plays in.

Aug. 5

Matriarch Grove EP

While not technically new, this Soundtrack Saturday continues with the monthly theme as we move on to Quarryn. This EP is from 2015, and still $1!

This EP focuses on the wooden sounds that are naturally produced by Matriarch Grove.

Aug. 12

Understanding (Runescape)

Another track from Runescape. This one’s from the Nature Altar, which is for (paying) members only. It originally came out in 2004, and did receive a musical facelift along with most of the soundtrack upon Runescape 3’s release in 2013

Big and chordy, Understanding focuses on a repeating chord progression with various understated melodies that don’t quite sit on top in the mix. Near the end a classic organ sound comes in and pushes itself to the top with a repeated chord, despite the chords changing underneath for a completely different feel. There’s even some light percussion at the end to pick up the piece as the song ends.

Aug. 19

Outcropping EP

This week for Soundtrack Saturday, another Species EP for just ONE DOLLAR (one US dollar)! This one covers the Xiruen.

At 4 tracks, it’s a little short, but there’s 19 minutes of music, so it’s not that short. Like the Matriarch Grove EP, this focuses on the environment sound, much like Zelda, or Bethesda RPGs – where it is not the characters in the environment making noise, but the sounds of the environment that are not always ambient noise

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Aug. 26

Ruins (Zelda: Minish Cap)

This track is from The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap. Released in the mid 2000’s for GameBoy Advance, this would be the last Zelda that was strictly 2D. The plot of the game is exploring the world at both Minish/Picori-size, which is very small, and normal Hylian size.

The track plays around with a scale and instruments that have a decidedly Middle Eastern feel. There is also a couple melodic lines which use the Ocarina sound for the game, which is found in the dungeon following this area. It manages to sound mysterious to the western ear because of the scale and instruments, while also being upbeat and propelling the player forward.

Sep. 2

Species EP Playlist

Soundtrack Saturday is here with the FIVE released Species EPs. Bandcamp and downloads not your thing? Stream today!
Sep. 9

Knight’s Charge (Morrowind)

An early and oft-heard track from the 2002 hit Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Knight’s Charge is a fantastic musical summary of the game outside of the title screen track (Nerevar Rising). In a quick two minutes you hear most of the instrumentation that the soundtrack has to offer, all while feeling majestic and triumphant.

Knight’s Charge opens with horns that harken back to royal decrees, followed by pounding drums, low brass and strings. This trio of sorts keeps pace for most of the next two minutes, occasionally crescendoing with trumpets, or giving way to woodwinds in a more subdued section. About halfway through the low brass is exchanged for a choir momentarily to really hammer in the fantasy feeling.

Sep. 16

The Blade

Soundtrack Saturday here with another In Extremis track from the FREE Environmental Atmospheres EP. Though it has been previewed before, I thought it a nice sneak peak to the upcoming The Blade EP.
Sep. 23

Siege Dancers (Destiny)

One of my personal favourites from the original Destiny soundtrack, released in 2014. The Cabal’s themesong on Mars is not only audibly distinctive, but memorable and well fitting for a militarized industrial empire.

Starting out with some percussion, we’re quickly introduced to the secondary motive of the Cabal in low strings before a suspended cymbal crescendo takes us to the main theme. The legato-staccato rhythmic motive is the Cabal’s signature in the first edition of Destiny, appearing in later expansions of the game and likely Destiny 2. The restatement of the main motive in higher strings introduced around 1:45 is ominous and intimidating when combined with the lower, main motive. Piercing metallic scrapes and sirens percolate through the rest of the track, adding more industrial flavour to the music of our favourite sand dwellers (because we all hate the Vex).

Sep. 30

The Blade EP

NEW MUSIC for Soundtrack Saturday! Get the all new The Blade EP for just ONE DOLLAR!

Six new songs at just under half an hour of music, fresh from the dystopian society of the Sha’an. Listen to ritual music complete with the howls of the Sha’an, towns with life sucked out of them, and buildings themselves crying out for help. Metaphorically, of course. Buildings can’t talk, that’d be weird.

Oct. 7

Imperial Throne (Skyrim)

This track comes from the 2011 game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It is played in Castle Dour, many holds around the Jarl, and seems to be the loading screen music most often heard.

Consisting of nothing more than a simple string melody and drones, the piece is still able to conjure the image of a high court without the trumpet fanfare most would associate with medieval/fantasy courts.

Oct. 14

YouTube Singles Playlist

Time for Soundtrack Saturday! Two weeks until the next Species EP (The Blade) is out. This week, I wanted to highlight the other playlist that’s on YouTube right now, the singles. So far, these are all previously released songs that have been remade and re-released. The two songs are a couple months old and a new song might be on the playlist soon…
Oct. 21

Fire Temple (Spectrobes Origins)

I have highlighted this series and game before, and here’s another standout track from Spectrobes Origins. The atmosphere of the game is drastically improved on the Wii from previous DS titles, and the soundtrack is no different.

Beginning with a cymbal roll, the piece gets off to an ominous start. Low drums, plenty of brass, and an unending string rhythm enable this track to evoke the sound of many fire temples of other games. The percussion and strings give a slight tribal feel, with several percussion elements being used to indicate phrases. The brass melody is long and monotonous, punctuated by louder, higher staccato notes giving way to a fuller brass melody that dies off as the percussion takes back over.

Oct. 28

The Hilt EP

The last Species EP for this Soundtrack Saturday! Get the all new The Hilt EP for just ONE DOLLAR!

Just like The Blade EP, six new songs. There are many interesting cultural differences across The Hilt, including the local groups. While the cultures vary, so too does the music. See if you can spot the musical influences in the tracks that represent the local groups.

Nov. 4

Space Junk Galaxy (Super Mario Galaxy)

Super Mario Galaxy is one of my favourite video games ever, as it completely rethought a lot of conventions of the Super Mario franchise and pushed it out of the rut that sidescrolling platformers can easily fall in. With the recent success of Super Mario Odyssey, I wanted to point back to this game (and it’s soundtrack) as a wonderful predecessor.

The track itself is pretty simple, with a very bright piano with a hard attack alternating with a muffled bell sounding instrument, also with very short and hard attacks. Underneath and sometimes above come several pad synths. A great relaxing track—there are 30 minute ‘extended’ versions of this track (and many others) across YouTube if this strikes your fancy.

Nov. 11

Pale Shores EP

Back to In Extremis this Soundtrack Saturday. Continuing with the relaxing trend of last week, here’s the EP that started it all as far as Species EPs go. I made this back in March of 2015 to try and nail down some musical ideas for the Avotoc that would make their way into the first Chasing Shadows soundtrack, since the plot revolved around Avotoc.

It makes for great background music whether you’re reading, working, relaxing, or trying to fall asleep. It’s simple in the instrumentation—there’s an acoustic guitar, some pad noise, and samples of seashore and mountaintop ambiance.

Nov. 18

Aquatic Ambiance (Donkey Kong Country)

Oh man, right in the childhood. A hit on the SNES, Donkey Kong Country was a 3D-looking sidescroller with many conventions of the Super Mario franchise, and many conventions that counter any expectations of Mario players.

Aquatic Ambiance (aptly named) begins with some sweeping chords and pulsating mid-level synths and gives way to a relaxed downtempo jazz feel. With a drum beat that’s half baseline and smooth piano in the upper register, the player or listener is lulled to sleep by the ebb and flow of the music, much like the water of the level itself. About halfway through the track there’s a an instrument—likely a synth—that sounds like a cross between harmonica and saxophone that picks up the melodic line, and it’s quite sublime.

Nov. 25

Ava

It’s still Sunday! Apologies to any international (Europe and East of) fans where it is no longer Sunday.

Anyway, here’s a complete reimagining of a track from Chasing Shadows. This track deserved it, as it was really monotonous and didn’t feel as relaxing as I felt it deserved The previous two YouTube singles were simple refurbishings with better sounds themselves, but this is a reimagining I’m really happy with.

Dec. 2

A Winter’s Tale (Skyrim)

From the 2011 game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, this music is found ingame in Taverns and small shops.

An interesting note is the instrument of the coin purse. They’re used as a colotomic rhythm for much of the piece, gradually getting louder, but also sounding as if the ‘purse’ has more coins inside. The other main instrument is the lute.

Dec. 9

Valleys Below

To help celebrate the winter wonderland many of us find ourselves in, here’s a track from the 2015 Pale Shores EP.

Using spacious guitar, an atmospheric pad, and wind/blizzard noise, let your ears be transported to a mountaintop overlooking glacial valleys. Don’t forget to bring some hot chocolate!

Dec. 16

Scape Santa (Runescape)

Originally from the first 2004 soundtrack, this version was redone in 2013 with a number of other pieces from the entire soundtrack.

The omnipresent sleigh bells start the track off, accompanied by the sound of kids cheering in a snowstorm. Bells, a flute, marimba, brushes on a snare drum and later what sounds similar to a dry wurlitzer electric piano repeat the same theme with a few variations for a good four minutes.

Dec. 30

Pirates of the Wasteland (Epic Mickey)

Epic Mickey was released for the Wii in 2010, featuring both Mickey and Oswald The Rabbit (one of Disney’s first characters) together for the first time. Mostly a platformer, the engine is actually the same engine used by Bethesda studios for their hit series, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout.

Mostly because this track is 7 minutes and it covers a large area (both space and time) ingame, this track is somehow able to convey every piratey atmosphere conceivable. It begins with a brooding march-like feel with low brass and percussion, a bassoon introduces us to some french horns and strings before giving way to ambient and epic pulsations. Suddenly, an accordion appears to convey the lightheartedness of some depictions of pirates while still on the same ominous march as earlier before abruptly cutting to some battle music, including the accordion, but focused on strings and percussion.

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