I’ve known a lot of people who simply don’t understand that every piece of a project is important. Every movie, TV show, video game, book or musical composition is like a clock. Every single word, note, camera movement, or demand from the player is a gear that helps the device function. Without one, the whole experience falls apart, and if one is of a lower quality than the others, it drags the whole thing down.
This is why I hate the ‘It’s only cosmetic’ argument when it comes to micro-transactions in video games. People who use this point always state that it doesn’t affect your gameplay because it’s all visual. This is completely false: it is part of the game. Therefor, it is affecting gameplay. That is the end of it.
Which brings me to the subject of today’s Rant: music.
To me, music is one of the most important parts of any media. It can further enhance something that is already great, or it can improve something that is less than it could be. A good musical accompaniment can greatly increase the emotion of a scene, making it the stand out star of the show.
For example, a sweeping orchestra playing a high energy piece can make a scene incredibly thrilling. Take, for example, the piece ‘I am the Doctor’ from seasons 5-7 of Doctor Who. This piece starts quiet with a simple but intense rhythm, then escalates in speed and volume, creating the perfect feeling of excitement within the audience. And since it’s played whenever the Doctor is about to do something incredibly brilliant (and more often than not life threateningly dangerous) the audience knows exactly what they can expect whenever this track begins to play. They know that something amazing is about to happen.
On the other end of the spectrum, a quiet and slow piece can create the feeling of a somber and emotional moment. A great example of this is the track ‘Gherman, the First Hunter’, which plays over the boss fight of the same name in Bloodborne. As it’s the final boss (if you don’t count the Moon Presence) of a… less than easy game, you’d expect it to be loud, swelling and epic, much like the previous example. But instead, you get a slow, quiet piece that, at it’s most intense, barely gets to more than a pianissimo. It tells you that this is not an epic final battle: it is a tragic end. But an end to who? Or to what? The fact that you have such a weak grasp on it due to the Souls-Borne style of story telling only makes the piece far more powerful.
But that’s a rant for another day.
Great musical compositions like these can make or break something for me. If I’m watching a show with a mediocre or bad soundtrack, I’m going to have a much harder time getting into it. If I’m watching a mediocre or bad show with a great soundtrack, then I’ll stick around a little longer than I normally would.
There are plenty of examples of the ladder. The Star Wars prequels (which will be the last time I ever put anything Star Wars onto this blog, I swear to god), Fairy Tail, RWBY, the original Hellsing anime, Final Fantasy 13 (all three of them), and Sonic the Hedgehog are all products that can be considered bad or meh. But no matter how bad the rest of it is, you have to give them credit for at least one thing.
Those soundtracks are pretty kick ass.
Still, I tend to enjoy a soundtrack a lot more if it’s from something I consider good. Dark Souls 1 and 3 (I do not like 2), Persona 5, My Hero Academia, Lord of the Rings, and the 90’s Berserk anime all have spectacular soundtracks that I’ll listen to while I work.
Hell, I’ve listened to the ‘Soul of Cinder’ from Dark Souls 3, ‘Gherman the First Hunter’ from Bloodborne and the ‘Amusement Park’ from NieR Automata tracks all while writing this post today.
I listen to more soundtrack music than I do mainstream music. Don’t get me wrong, I can always listen to Queen, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, or Blue Oyster Cult (five bucks says you’ve never heard of that last one). But when I’m working, I find myself more in the mood to listen to the Fire Emblem Warriors or Cuphead soundtrack.
The ladder of which gives me Vietnam war flashbacks.
If you recommended something to me with the line ‘the soundtrack is fucking killer’, then you’ve boosted the chances of me watching it by a solid eighty percent. I’m no musician (well I used to be, but those days are long done), but I fucking love me some good music.
Which is the main reason I’ve stuck with RWBY through its many issues. But once again: that’s a topic for another day.