Gaming Music, Redux

So I’m currently gearing up to GM two games in early 2011. One is a Serenity campaign with some of my school buddies, most of whom are new to gaming, and the other is a Godlike campaign with some of the Jank Casters and our friends.

I decided to do something I had never done before when playing a game and make mix CDs for all the players with songs that thematically fit the campaign.

Likewise, Megan (who is playing in the Godlike campaign) told us she’s going to burn us all a CD of 1940s music to get us in the WWII mood.

After giving the Godlike CD to the group, Timo sent me an e-mail saying he liked the mix but didn’t really get WWII from it. After bouncing e-mails back and forth we realized that we were thinking of the music in two different ways. He was thinking of music that, in effect, sonically creates the mood you’re looking to create (he mentioned particularly evocative classical music). I was thinking songs that had a lyrics about war, from different cheap cialis no prescription points of view.

It was interesting because, if we add in Megan’s mix CD, there’s three ways to think about music getting you in the mindset to game:

1) Mood music,
2) Thematic music, and
3) Setting music.

Mood music would be music that, aesthetically, evokes the kind of feelings, or whatever, you would associate with what you’re doing in the fiction. So, for example, for a WWII game you may listen to some particularly dramatic or intense classical music, like Timo said. This is what I tend to listen to during gaming.

Thematic music has lyrics which suggest the kind of thing you’re getting at in the game. So, for example, for a WWII game you may listen to songs about war or violence, as I intended with the mix. This is what I tend to listen to prior to gaming.

Finally, setting music would be music that evokes the actual setting. So, for example, if you were playing a WWII game, you may listen to music from the 1940s, as Megan is intending with her mix. I haven’t thought about this much until Megan mentioned it, although I have used it within game to create mood (playing 1920s jazz when we played Spirit of the Century, for example).

Any thoughts on this? Do you veer towards one of these or the other with music you listen to prior to or during gaming?

For the record…

Serenity Mix:
1) Firefly- Main Theme
2) Tiger! Tiger! by Slough Feg
3) Rebel Side of Heaven by Langhorn Slim
4) Rotten to the Core by The Builders and the Butchers
5) Ain’t No Grave by Johnny Cash
6) Never Gonna Change by Drive By Truckers
7) Down the Line by Jose Gonzalez
8 ) Big Iron by Marty Robbins
9) Ocean (Burn the Highways) by Lazarus
10) Lawless Lands by The Sword
11) Deadman’s Gun by Ashtar Command
12) Ringo Rides Again by Ennio Morricone
13) Rainmaker, Floodreaper by Across Tundras
14) Cottonseed by Drive By Truckers
15) Rum Brave by Murder By Death
16) The Rider Song by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
17) High Passage/Low Passage by Slough Feg
18) Alone We’ll Always Be by David Galas
19) Wayfaring Stranger by Johnny Cash
20) L’uomo dell’armonica by Ennio Morricone

Godlike Mix:
1) War Pigs by Black Sabbath
2) The Butcher’s Tale by The Zombies
3) At Mail Call Today by Gene Autry
4) Johnny Come Lately by Steve Earle
5) Symphony of Destruction by Megadeth
6) Miss Pavlichenko by Woody Guthrie
7) The Sands of Iwo Jima by Drive By Truckers
8 ) The Longest Day by Iron Maiden
9) Flags of Freedom by Neil Young
10) The Ballad of Ira Hayes by Johnny Cash
11) The Desert Fox by Instanzia
12) One Tin Soldier by Coven
13) When the Tigers Break Free by Pink Floyd
14) One by Metallica
15) I Ain’t Marching Anymore by Phil Ochs

7 thoughts on “Gaming Music, Redux

  1. For Timo, if he wants something that might work thematically in the way of classical/contemporary classical there is an album by Emilie Autumn called On A Day that has some stuff that might work, a lot of subdued violin work that I have listened to *cough cough* while playing Halo or Black Ops online in multiplayer. Or possibly he could look into any number of things by a cello metal band called Apocalyptica. They have a lot of original stuff that covers the range of both slow and fast pieces (especially their earlier stuff) and they also did a number of covers of Metallica songs, a couple with various metal singers (like Corey Taylor) that might work. But I really like the lists that you guys put together.

  2. Just something to think about, if you can find it. Try the music “Victory at Sea” , you might also try some Wagner. Gotterdamerung is always good for war. If you can’t find Victory at Sea, let me know, I can email it to someone.


  3. Like Timo, I thought the Godlike mix you put together was good as far as theme went, but it’s not working for me as something to use for the game. But understand that I may be a special situation.

    Godlike takes place in what is quite easily my favorite historical setting of all time. I am retroactively a child of bygone eras, more specifically the 1940s and 1950s – this is the music I’ve been listening to since I was a kid and it has extremely close ties to many of the things I love (burlesque being one of them). I can’t even imagine thinking about a setting like Godlike without hearing the Andrews Sisters and Glenn Miller in the background. It’s like the music is a sense memory for something I never actually had a memory of to begin with. In an instance where the connection to the setting is a strong as it is for me because of things like the music, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd just don’t work, regardless of how thematically relevant the song might be.

    The Serenity playlist works just fine – but part of me thinks I’m more okay with it because Serenity is a cross-genre kind of game and so cross-genre music kind of works.

  4. I thought of some music, because you mentioned Burlesque, that could be good. It is the soundtrack from the game The Saboteur, which is set in WWII Paris during the German Occupation.

  5. A ha. Please note, for the record here, the mixes I put up there were NEVER supposed to be used DURING the game. They’re merely to listen to before the games to give some kind of color. I actually, literally, cannot game while music with lyrics is playing. I have no idea how anyone can do that. Instrumental, not-too-intrusive music, yes. While we play, I’ll probably play both some period music and some classical music, but definitely not what I put in the mixes.

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