2018/10/25

OSR: An Incongruous Soundtrack for a Pre-Apocalyptic World

Another light little post to prove I'm still alive and working.
I like choosing music for my games. For space opera-ish games (of the Star Wars or the Grim Dark variety) I typically pick leitmotifs. Lots of sound and fury.

I've been trying to think of what sort of music fits the pre-apocalyptic setting I'm working on.
Leighton Blair
1. Period Appropriate
I'm spoiled for choice. John Blow, Henry Purcell, John Field, Handel, Haydn, Clementi, Johann Christian Bach, William Boyce, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn... all the way to Gilbert and Sullivan. Restoration to late Victorian; all work, more or less.

But while Creatures of the Prometheus is fitting, but will it strike a chord with my players?
Jacob Huysmans
2. Incongruous Covers
Bioshock Infinite may not have been the greatest video game of all time... but it's one of the rare pre-apocalyptic video games. Hidden in the soundtrack are little anachronistic tunes like this ragtime cover of Tainted Love.
It's a neat technique. It's very off-putting. In the background, sometimes, distantly, you can hear music that's wrong. Was Eye of the Tiger a souped-up cover of a jazz standard... or is it the other way around?

I think I'm going to include a lot of covers. Ideally, ones that sound barely plausible as "original" versions covered by later artists. Style isn't super important, but I'd like to avoid purely electronic or highly produced sounds. The music should feel like it could bleed out of salons, parlors, music halls, gin dens, and other seedy or experimental locales.

Examples:
Keep Me In Your Heart (Strings only version)
Shiny Happy People
Shake Sugaree (excellent for a pawn-rich city).
Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Additional Tigers


The Westworld covers are nice but a little too strongly western-themed. Player pianos are distinct instruments.
William Hogarth
3. Michael Nyman
I should rant about Michael Nyman more often. He's to Peter Greenaway what Danny Elfman is to Tim Burton. And if you've never heard of Peter Greenaway, start here.

Anyway, I love his work. It breaks all of the rules listed above. It's not diegetic. It's unnatural, layered, produced. But I think that's why it works for a pre-apocalyptic setting. It'll glue the covers and classical pieces together, providing some much-needed high-tempo nonsense.

Plus, he pairs particularly well with Purcell.

In Conclusion
I hope that this was a useful insight into how I choose music, or that you at least found something strange to listen to. If you think of any tracks that might fit my (admittedly bizarre) criteria, post 'em in the comments.

4 comments:

  1. In the Incongruous Covers topic I would recommend Richard Cheese. He has a lot of covers in the style of the Eye of the Tiger cover that you mentioned. Examples:
    Beat It (Michael Jackson): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF7vnx479Gw
    Enter Sandman (Metallica): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScVfwoKIWds

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  2. Holy shit incongruous covers is the *best* thing

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  3. SKERPLES WHY?! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO INDIRECTLY REMIND ME THAT "THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE, AND HER LOVER" IS A THING?!

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    Replies
    1. Ahahaha! You mean it's not a Thanksgiving tradition in your house?

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