View Full Version : Favorite background music

13 January 2002, 05:54 PM
I am considering playing a CD of background music during our gaming sessions to increase the atmosphere of the adventure. What I was wondering, though, is what song selections do you all recommend? Besides the standard Star Wars music I was looking for song suggestions to help create a definate mood and like Johns Williams did I would like to find an appropriate cinematic theme for the players and battle sequences. Right now I've found some incredible music from Shadows of the Empire but I was looking for more from outside the realm of Star Wars. Any suggestions?

13 January 2002, 06:03 PM
What's the general tone of the campaign/gaming sessions? I find that different types of music work for different situation. Sometimes Metallica works, other times the Doors (believe it or not). Generally I like to use good music from different shows/movies.

13 January 2002, 06:55 PM
It is nice to have some Cantina music on hand if they happen to go into a bar . . . and change that music from week to week.

The best possible thing to do is every session have a new burned CD and a track listing and remote handy . . . then you can easily switch from song to song when you feel it is necissary.

A good forboding Metallica song and a few J. Williams tunes from almost any movie of his will work for about 1/3 - 1/2 of the songs. Then add 1-2 songs that you might hear in a dance club/cantina/bar . . . then some traveling music . . . and maybe a tune from Enya or Deep Forest.

Then change all but one or two of those songs every two or three sessions.

Burning a new CD every 1-3 weeks is CHEAP, and if you feel that the music does add to the game . . . do it!

13 January 2002, 07:09 PM
Someone else asked about this a while back.

But people always hear new music. I, for one, discovered that the music from the series Noir and Trigun both make excellent roleplaying music. You can probably find them on tokyopop.com if you haven't got a local anime shop, but you probably aren't going to get the best deal if you buy it from there.

13 January 2002, 09:51 PM
The campaign is based in the events directly preceeding Episode 2 right before Palpatine becomes Emperor and the Jedi Purges. I have a Jedi, a Republic special-forces soldier, and two not-so evil scoundrels. Right now I have them running around the deserts of Tatooine and I am really looking for interesting music themes to que up. I'd love to find a song that becomes "the group's song" and at least 2 different battle songs, one for thugs, the second for bigger bosses. On top of that I'd like to find music for when they meet the two crime bosses about to fight over Tatooine. And finally I need some "desperation" music. My long term plans for the campaign is for the Empire to come to power (yep, going to use the Imperial March) and the Purges to take a nasty toll on the Jedi and I'm looking for almost mournful combat music. Damn... what have a mess my campaign's going to become... oh well. I'm pretty much just looking for anything worth listening to. Thanks again for any suggestions.

Wade Trenor
13 January 2002, 10:24 PM
Corsair thought it was a good idea to play Metallica, 'Enter the Sandman', while my character was in action.
I don't have much of the SW score on my PC, but I do have the music for the Asteroid Field. I thought it was one of the best background sounds in the original trilogy. Its only beaten by the music when Vader and Luke have their final battle on the Death Star.

13 January 2002, 11:27 PM
I think that the music from the recent movie Lord of the Rings would be great for playing during a gaming session. It is very powerful and quite good, It can very dramitic and the battle music was cool. Thats my two cents.

Lord Byss
14 January 2002, 01:17 AM
If you like the actual SW music byMr Williams then try Holst: The Planets. You can pick it up very cheaply (in the UK for as little as 3 in HMV - classical section) and it is really worht it. It has a selection of music from ones that "feel" very Imperial (like Mars-The bringer of war) and more serene ones. The whole thing reeks of SW. So if you are wanting that authentic feel but have already gone through the SW soundtracks several times (like I did), then this is the badger.

Darth Bile
14 January 2002, 05:18 AM
You could always use music from final fantasy serious of games too, they have different types of music that might fit into your campaign, specially the music they use when there is a battle going on then different music for a boss fight. Or you can always use, heaven forbid if you don't like this type of music, Classical, and by classical i mean beethoven, mozart, stuff like that, or opera music

FlipDog 2000
14 January 2002, 06:15 AM
I'll agree with Moose. LotR is possibly some of the best 20th Century music written in Fantasy style since John Williams. It has just the right combonation of representational neoclassicism and drama to make it very nice as background to an RPG. I found that some SW is good, but a lot is fanfarish and can get too loud and is over to quickly. However, having a battle in the middle of DuelotFates is great.

Random Axe
14 January 2002, 06:36 AM
There are several soundtrack CDs for Babylon 5 that make good background music for almost any campaign (IMO).

I also like to use the soundtrack for Terminator II, or Blade Runner.

For some of the more gothic moments I also prefer Dead Can Dance, for the more cyberpunkish settings I will use a lot of Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, Marilyn Manson or NIN (I can see you're getting the idea).

14 January 2002, 06:43 AM
I have quite a disciplined approach to SW music: I wouldn't use the Imperial March except when the Empire/Darth Vader was present, wouldn't use "Duel of the Fates" except for a struggle aproaching the importance of Jedi/Sith. That cuts down the choices of tracks on Star Wars CDs, but lets you preserve the power and importance of the leimotivs. Peter Schweighofer's "The Force of Music" article in Star Wars Gamer 3 is helpful. Also, some less recognizable John Williams soundtracks, Korngold (the big influence on Williams), various other romantic film music which I'll make a good list of some day.

For music within the Star Wars galaxy you'd need to look at modern classical music, abstract electronic music, eccentric interpretations of swing, 80s American pop. I so wish my CD player had pitch and speed controls.

Star Wars is opera: not with songs, but in that the music and Ben Burtt's sound design, rarely the dialogue, is the equal partner of the physical acting/choreography and scenery. That level of coordination of event and sound isn't possible if you're improvising a roleplaying session, so you have to be more selective with soundtracking, as in the Episode I Podrace where the music kicks in towards the end.

14 January 2002, 08:03 AM
Anything by John Williams. Here are some of my favorites
~Indy movies
~Empire of the Sun
~Schindler's List
~Saving Private Ryan
~Superman (especially the Krypton scenes)

James Horner's stuff is also really good, and also Howard Shore put in a great score for Fellowship of the Ring.

Durian Keldrona
14 January 2002, 09:02 AM
there is an article in Star wars gamer on this that is a good read.

It has some good ideas for which star wars music to use for which types of scenes... I dont have the issue handy so i cant quote the issue.
I believe the article was called the force of music.

14 January 2002, 03:30 PM
For dark adventures, and when I play Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play I often use Conan the Barbarian or the Frankenstein soundtrack.
The other day though I picked up the Xena: Warrior Princess soundtrack volume six. There are some good atmosphere and action pieces. I did buy this specifically for RPG background music (because songs with lyrics just get the players singing 'badly' and detract from the game).

14 January 2002, 04:01 PM
I just recently burnt a new CD for our gaming group. I've got it all subdivided into categories with different types of music so I can just go to a track then have several tracks worth of music of the type I want. I was so proud of myself...but after one game session it was getting old! I'd suggest doing what Vixen said, switching things up a bit.

Anyway, on the original topic, I'd definitely suggest music from Lord of the Rings. It's perfect for battle/adventuring, and in some tracks it borders on downright scary. However, the music is so dark and desperate that it can be a bit much. Keep this for the really tight spots near the end of the campaign, then bust it out.

I also highly recommend the soundtrack to Braveheart. There's some good stuff in there, just be picky about which tracks you use, some switch tone in the middle.

If you're looking for a consistent theme, both Lord of the Rings and the soundtrack to Harry Potter have some pieces that dominate all of the music in the respective movies. Additionally, both of them have tracks that are basically just the theme (the other tracks will have hints of it). For Lord of the Rings, the tracks are Concerning Hobbits (2) and The Breaking of the Fellowship (a high number, but I can't exactly recall it). For Harry Potter, it's Hedwig's Theme.

I would recommend against anything with lyrics (I make a couple of exceptions for Enya in Lord of the Rings), it's just too distracting.

As to the specific things you mentioned:
Crimelord Space Battle - "Here They Come" from Star Wars
Group's Song - Not sure, that's definitely dependent on your group's taste. This one might be another exception to the 'no lyrics' rule.
Battle Songs - I'd suggest "A Knife in the Dark" from LotR and "Monray's Dream" from Braveheart.

14 January 2002, 04:32 PM
Nothing beats playing some Rammstein whenever the bad guys enter in as a prequel to an epic battle. Rammstein rocks.

I like to use the Mortal Kombat Theme (you know .. the techno one) during fights .. as well as other tracks from The Matrix.

I have considered making my players listen to Enya or something when they land a lush peaceful planet ... but that would just annoy everyone including myself. :p

Thats a few I would go with. Obviously, there are heaps out there that could work.

14 January 2002, 04:58 PM
Byss is right. Gustav Holst's "The Planets" is very Star Warsy. In fact, the song Mars, Bringer of War makes excellent space combat music. Highly reccommended for fleet engagements between large numbers of capital ships.

15 January 2002, 08:25 AM
I think I found the perfect music for my campaign and I recommend it to everyone looking for something moody, modern and action oriented! It's the soundtrack to the Playstation game Metal Gear Solid. Incredible music! It's got pretty much everything to it that I was looking for. Think I may check out the Final Fantasy and Resident Evil music as well. Additionally, I'd like to thank everyone for their recommendations! I especially like the Holst music and the anime music suggested.

Emperor Xanderich II
16 January 2002, 03:36 AM
'THe Planets' is great, I agree. John Barry has done some great soundtracks, Zulu being amongst them. It is very atmospheric, and I used some when I was doing a take of an ALiens adventure.

For general background music we use the TIE Fighter vs X-wing cd. Track 2 (which is about 25 minutes long) is general space opera kinda stuff. It has the Imperial march as well as the general SW music. It also has the medal ceremony music (I love that one).

Pomp and Circumstance by Elgar is fantastic for all kinds of situations, as it rises to some great creshendos.

Other ones we use are, Fanfare for the Common Man, and I think it's called Lifewave- - which has some fantastic bar room brawl music on it!

FlipDog 2000
16 January 2002, 07:48 AM
I almost forgot!!! You guys are right...th music that made me LOVE music, and where Williams took most of the ideas from and based the SW soundtrack on. 'The Planets' by Gustav Holst...I can't believe that I didn't remember it, that is some of the best music ever written.

PS -- Carl Orff's Carmina Burana: 'O Fortuna is great for gaming too.

Tony J Case, Super Genius
16 January 2002, 11:48 AM
Originally posted by Ash
Right now I've found some incredible music from Shadows of the Empire but I was looking for more from outside the realm of Star Wars. Any suggestions?

My favorite composers and/or soundtracks for gaming:

Just about anything by Hans Zimmer - the Rock rocks with wall to wall action music, Gladiator has some great pieces, and his MI2 soundtrack has some big choral with driving rock score action.

Conan the Barbarian / Conan the Destroyer - used in every gladiator and fantasy movie trailer to this date. The definitive Big Drum score.

The Vision of Escaflowne and Macross Plus - two incredible scores done by Yoko Kano, proving that one person should not have that much talent. Escaflowne ranges from a traditional sounding soundtrack to a Gregorian chant like chanting. Macross on the other hand is all over the map. From J-pop songs to traditional soundtrack scores to electronic pieces - its some damn fine stuff, and you'll find a track to suit every mood.

Event Horizon - a piece of crap movie with a great soundtrack. Creepy and moody, perfect for sneaking around a long abandoned Sith temple.

Raider of the Lost Ark/Temple of Doom/Last Crusade - action packed Johnnie Williams at his (second) best. Be sure to find the expanded Last Crusade bootleg - tons of good missing music.

Cowboy Bebop - another one my Yoko Kano, and probably the most diverse soundtrack I've ever heard. Jazz, hip-hop, classical, wester-ish electronica - scores for every mood can be found on this OST. It's an import, so it can be hard(er) to find - but any good file sharing service should be able to hook you up.

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles - while on the subject of Mr McNeely and SotE, let us discuss his contribution to the other Lucasfilm project. During the short run of the TV series, Joel managed to capture the spirit of the rockem' sockem feel of Indy. He emulates the original style without recycling.

16 January 2002, 08:07 PM
Track 2 from the Starship Troopers soundtrack.

Excellent stuff.

FlipDog 2000
18 January 2002, 05:56 AM
If your PC's like comedy campaigns, a mix of Spaceballs works. However, Lawrence of Arabia is a great one to listen to. Has anyone said Harry Potter yet??? Cause if they did...I'm gonna...well, first I'm gonna...uh...step on their foot...yeah, that's the ticket.