Musings about music


I need new screenshots…

There’s a lot of music in this post. Take your time and listen to some of it. Or not – you decide.

For reason unexplained, as I believe Tom Petty (or possibly Bob Dylan) put it, I all of a sudden came to think of music. First, a tune in particular, namely Johann Pachebels Canon in D Major. This is the original version (well, an interpretion of it):

Now, this is strange. You see, I’ve always been a great fan of classical music (wich is why I always listen to the ingame music in World of Warcraft). I’ve listened my way through the typical classics like Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. I’ve become entranced by Wagner, Mahler and Brahms. I’ve been teary-eyed at the excrutiating angst of … ah, yes: Albinoni:

Adagio in G Minor. The “tune” that spawned an unfinished script of mine, a story in a cyberpunk setting about a damaged mercenary on his way to retirement who for various reasons got involved in a global conspiration … you know the theme, I guess. It wasn’t that innovative. But I still think I managed to create a pretty good character; the thing that kept him going in spite of his old injuries was that tune. Albinoni. The wailing violin … the torment of a soul. Or the hope of peace. Finally. Peace.

In stark contrast to the above, the swede, Alan Pettersson . Please. Take 10 minutes of your life. And listen …

It is said he composed parts of his symphonies while riding a bike. true or not, Pettersson had a rough time in life. The thing is – all of these composers have left their mark. I might be imagining, but every once in a while I find fragments of them in the soundtracks of our lives (this is a pun). Our lives in Azeroth.

You know what? The first time I happened upon a piece of music that stuck with me while playing a game was the first one. Pachebel. It was a game for Amiga, Utopia a colonisation real time strategy game (or so I think). This:

I was so amazed by the soundtrack I actually looped it on a C90 tape (yes, that’s how old I am!). It played in my ears with a Walkman over and over again. It played on my stereo over and over again. I cried myself to sleep to it. I dashed through my apartment, trying to flee from demons I never saw – and Pachebel was there. Andl ater on, so was Albinoni, and Mozart … And Wagner. Turht be told, Wagner drove to the edge of a commuter train platform; I was about to step off to the sound of Valkyries when a priest happened by. Call it divine intervention.

Music. It’s funny. The music of games is a part of me. Even Pachebel made it to the cut. I’ve spent hours listening to this, Unreal OST:

I remember some of the bad guys yelling something akin to “ostkaka!” (that’s cheesecake, more or less, for you anglicans). I remember the giants, the puzzles, the frantic action – the friendly natives who moaned “Ni’na! Ni’na!”.

I’ve spent hours listening to this, Halflife OST:

Gordon. Barney. Ah … Shepard. What’s up with this Shepard? The first time a Shepard showed up was in Black Mesa. The second time, thanks to my partner, was is Mass Effect. There’s something special about Mass Effect. It’s the characters … and the music:

I remember I argued, more or less, with my partner wether the ME OST was “good” or not. This was the ME1 OST and I never really got into it. Not even as a backdrop to the game. The OST was just a backrdrop, a “white noise”. It was the same thing with Mass Effect 2; the music is good, but it didn’t catch “that” in me.

Pehaps it’s a combination of many different reasons, but let me elaborate a bit about Mass Effect 3. Specifically the segment “Leaving Earth”. You know it, I’m sure. The boy. The rescue shuttles. The Reaper. The laser. The utter and absolute tragedy. Shepard (thee it is again) agast in the still open back of the Normandy. The cutscene . The Piano.

I’ve stopped counting the times I’ve hummed this on my way to the store. I’ve stopped counting the number of times it simply appeared in my mind … sometimes at the most suprising moments. Standing in the shower. Waiting for the subway. Waking up at 5.30 AM, knowing my partner would attend a funeral a few hours later, playing it over and over again. Reasons, you know. The piano. I like to think it gave my partner some solace, if my partner ever knew (I think there was some notation on Facebook I had listened to it). That … tune. That piano.

Once upon a time I was despondent, desperate, depressed. I was a young man, caought in a youthful fantasy of how an artist should suffer in order to Create. Let me tell you – the things you create when you suffer is shit. Don’t do it. anyway, the ME3 piano reminds me, in a way, of Claire d’Elune:

(Yes, there’s a reason I chose the Depeche Mode version; it was the first version I heard. I’ve heard it in other forms many time s since.)

Where am I going with all this? You know … I’m not sure. to balance all the violins and pianos, let me tell you about my very first gaming experience: I played Doom, the original, on a 486 computer without a soundcard. Instead of the in-game music (or whatever it was) I listened to the stereo. There was a lot of tunes but none except one -wich eventually was on repeat – gave me “the mood”. The FPS mood. What it was? Ministry, Burning Inside:

I ran out of Doom eventually. I kept going with Duke Nukem, still on the same computer (the one with no soundcard). But then Ministry had made way to something completely different. Sepultura, Chaos A.D:

I’m telling you! Try Duke with that shit in the room. It’s total carnage, man! But alas, I grew out of it … or so I thought. Because by the time I came around to Quake I still didn’t like the FPS music so, you know, I played Quake to this:

Good ol’ Rick, huh? Dropping bazooka-bombs on unsuspecting Bad Guys was never as fun as with the Valkyries!

See where I’m going? no matter what my forays may be, venturing into the unknown land of Rock and Roll (and heavy metal), I always return to the purples. the epics. You know, I’m hard pressed to find anything more epic than this:

But no … that’s not true. In game terms, there’s something more epic. Something that never, ever, no matter what John Williams cooks up – something that never will leave me indifferent. It’s been the same from the time I heard it for the very first time … to every time I doubleclick the icon, wait for 20-45 seconds and then …

Lean back. Place a hand on the mouse. Another hand on the keyboard. Takes a deep breath …

And plunge into Azeroth.

God, I love this theme!

– – – – –

(Seriously dude, you need a new fracking computer. You can’t keep “playing by proxy” forever!)


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