I don't usually like background music myself. I either end up listening to music or I turning it off. But as far as the genre goes
The Matrix the soundtrack is good
Johnny Mnemonic the soundtrack is good too
Anything from Ramstein
And on a softer side
Enya is good for anything Go to Comment
Most of the music from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack would fit any fantasy campaign because, well, that's what it is. I would also recommend some of the tracks from Labyrinth, and some of the Harry Potter soundtrack (maybe). Go to Comment
Just found something. It's a cd called Sojourn, and it's REALLY GOOD instrumental music, created with RPGs specifically in mind. I found it at a local gaming store, but you can order it from www.sojourncd.com. It's great. Go to Comment
Midnight Syndicate. Just about all of it's instrumental, and each different album has a theme (Gates of Delirium, Vampyre, Born of the Night, etc. Hell, they even have the official D&D soundtrack).
I have a cd called Devil's Dance, which is classical pieces for violin. Most of them are downright creepy, but since I tend to run horror...
Uncountable tracks from various anime and video games, half of which I've never even seen or played.
Some of Emerald Rose is good, particularly "The Castle of Eringaro" (I actually have no clue what that last word is. Something Gaelic, and I can't manage to get the phonetics out of it). Still, good, if you keep it low enough.
E Nomine, when I feel the need to run a religious scene. Go to Comment
I like most of the music from the Castlevania: Symphony of the night for PS1. If you have the game, ono of the fan sites has a utility to grab the music from it and some other PS1 games. Crystal Teardrops is absolutly a great track for dungeon crawling, since thats where it's used in Castlevaina. Go to Comment
You should try to listen to
"The Benedictine Monks Of Santo Domingo De Silos : The Mystery Of Santo Domingo de Silos"
It's some the real medieval-sounding monk song, might be a little to much in the long run, but I really like it, though.
Yes, the LOTR soundtracks are very good also, but there's also "The Tolkien Ensemble" who are some danes (yes, of all people) who has made music for all the poems and songs in LOTR. It's really good.
And then, of course, there's Era, that's also really good. Go to Comment
Though I wouldn't really buy the game just for the soundtrack, a cd of amazingly good music for roleplaying comes with the computer game Icewind Dale. The Morrowind soundtrack is good, too. Go to Comment
Believe it or not, the Diablo 2 soundtrack is a good source of general background music. Last few games I've played have had most of the playlist running in the background to great effect. IIRC, you can download them from the Blizzard website, too. Go to Comment
For those who dip into occasionaly technological settings... What music do you favor? Personally, I've found a few nonlyrical songs by Kansas that work - and surprisingly, quite a few anime songs work rather well. I'm still trying to track down the music that plays in Bubblegum Crisis 2032 when Largo uses his little black box to bring down satstrikes everywhere... It's truly a grand moment of background music for the moment when a truly technological monstrosity is unleashed... Go to Comment
In truth, I'll admit that a fair chunk of my background music, when played, originates in video game RPGs. Specifically, I own every Final Fantasy soundtrack from 3 through 10, as well as both Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. All of them together provide a wonderful selection of music... Go to Comment
Music can be used to set and reinforce a mood or a setting in a game. However, music must be set at a background level. Any louder than that and it becomes a distraction. If players are spending more time focusing on the music than playing the game, something is wrong.
Music is another voice of the game. Just like the GM needs to present information in the right way to preserve the game's feel, music should be selected to reflect the "feel" or ethos of the game. The specific music being played must fit the campaign, the setting, or the action. Music that fits the setting should reflect the kind of game and the environment like any non-player character. Drumming and traditional Japanese folk music were the soundtrack for my Nippon game. The soundtracks for Mortal Kombat were played when we were having combat in a martial arts game. We played chamber music for a Victorian game. Environmental sounds were great when we were in forests or out in the wilds. For a fantasy campaign, classical, celtic folk, or even Beatles could be applicable. During a huge street brawl in a modern-day game Marilyn Manson, Stabbing Westward, or Rage Against the Machine were all in the background. Find the mood you want, choose music to complement it, and play it.
To keep the disruption of maintaining music to a minimum. designate one player as "keeper of the music". It is that player's job to play DJ, with some input from the GM. This allows the GM to keep attention on the game, and to add music to the gaming experience. A keeper maintains a constant flow of music that fits the setting and mood at a low volume level. To assist this, most keepers create a "playlist" of what songs/ tracks on what albums were good for what kind of situations/ moments. The keeper is rewarded with extra experience or karma points because their efforts enhance the game.
So you are all hyped about music in your game. However, you complain that you don't have all this music. Where do you get "gaming music"? You would be surprised on how much "gaming" music you already have, from movie sound tracks and your troop's music collections. You can pick up more in any music or video store, and most local libraries. The internet is still a great source for free music, if you are careful. Just do not spend too much money on your music. It is just another game prop. If you need help finding appropriate music, music store clerks, media librarians, and some internet user groups, are great sources of information.
I would like to mention my favorite sources of music. Movie soundtracks are great sources of game music. The pieces all follow the same feel and have pieces for a variety of mood. (The compilation albums for a given time period or TV show themes also work well.) If the game is set in a historical period, use traditional music for that area. If the game is fantasy or sci fi, pick a musical feel and stick with it. Over the years, we have used Celtic, bluegrass, techno/dance, Native American/ tribal music, and Beatles tunes, to great effect. Environmental music/ sounds CDs, Fresh Aire, and classical/ opera music, round out the field.
Music is one of those you need to "gather" over time, rather than just grab in one bunch. The tool to facilitate that is the little black book. As a GM, you function much like an author. Like an author, keep a notebook with you. Record interesting things, observations, or ideas as you encounter them. Don't trust your memory. Trust your pen. Record descriptions (scenery, interesting people, the name of stores, music lyrics, turns of phrase) that can be used as little nuggets of descriptive goodness in your campaign. Record plot and story ideas and use them as springboards for future game plots. The little book will help you improve your game craft and your campaign. Go to Comment
For me, music is extremely important during a game. I almost hate to game without it. It's like watching a movie without the soundtrack -- because that's really what music is, a soundtrack for your game.
Following is a list of music that I use or have used. The list is in no particular order and is by no means exhaustive. I've included links to Amazon if you want to go there to listen to tracks.
I'll grant you, these are the obvious ones, but they need to be pointed out.
Gladiator Soundtrack: Gladiator: Music from the Motion Picture is my new favorite. A nice mix of rousing combat music and moody, slower pieces. Don't buy the "more music from the movie Gladiator" CD, however, unless you want to hear lots of dialogue snippets.
The 13th Warrior Soundtrack: Until Gladiator came out, The 13th Warrior: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was my favorite gaming CD. Great, emotional music.
Conan the Barbarian Soundtrack: Conan the Barbarian: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is probably the D&D album to have playing during a game.
Conan the Destroyer Soundtrack: More of the same, but that's a good thing. Conan the Destroyer: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack isn't quite as cool as Conan the Barbarian's, but it's still Basil Poledouris, so it's still pretty good.
Aliens Soundtrack: The Aliens: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is creepy mixed with action. A good way to describe a great D&D session.
Braveheart Soundtrack: If you don't mind the decidedly Scottish feel (that is to say, if bagpipes won't ruin the mood of your game), Braveheart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is a great CD.
Holst: The Planets: Probably my favorite classical music CD, Holst: The Planets is mystical and otherworldly, while powerful at the same time.
Dune Soundtrack: This is a bit of a guilty pleasure. I like the dialogue snippets in the Dune: Original Soundtrack Recording.
Dragonheart Soundtrack: The movie had its flaws, but the music's good on the Dragonheart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
Planet of the Apes Soundtrack: Planet of the Apes: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is from the original 1968 movie. I have no idea what the 2001 version will sound like (although actually, most Tim Burton movies have pretty good soundtracks).
Stargate and Independence Day Soundtracks: The Stargate: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, as well as the Independence Day: Original Soundtrack, are both good efforts by the same composer, David Arnold. These are not in my CD player every week, but they're good once in a while.
More D&D Adventure
These titles are a less obvious selections. They should pleasantly surprise you.
Henry V Soundtrack: I forget how I stumbled upon the Henry V: Original Soundtrack Recording, but it's great gaming music.
Elizabeth Soundtrack: Surprisingly good. The Elizabeth Soundtrack has some great medieval vocal bits mixed in with good fight music.
Paul Savanet, Nomad: Nomad is great travel music.
Dead Can Dance, Aion: Look for Aion, but really, practically anything by Dead Can Dance is good. It's pseudo-medieval, sort-of-Arabic music. Most of it has vocals, but they are usually moody and not distracting (most are not in English).
Vas, In the Garden of Souls: If you like Dead Can Dance, you'll like Vas. Try In the Garden of Souls.
Mediaeval Baebes, Salva Nos: Sung mostly by an a capella all-female choir, Salva Nos (Save Us) creates some interesting, flavorful background music for your medieval fantasy game.
Jean-Luc Ponty, Mystical Adventures: This one is an old favorite. Ponty is an electric violinist and creates some interesting instrumental music on Mystical Adventures and other albums.
Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen: Lots of bits that you'll recognize from the movie Excalibur, if you're not already familiar with Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen.
Steve Roach, Well of Souls: Very primal sort of ambient music. Well of Souls has lots of drums and primitive instruments.
Classical Thunder: Classical Thunder has all the great gaming classical music you need in one big collection. Very cool.
Replacement Killers Soundtrack: I bought the Replacement Killers Soundtrack on sale and was pleasantly surprised. Great action music. No annoying modern stuff stuck in at the end like so many of today's soundtracks, either.
These titles all work for D&D as well, but they are more creepy than adventure-oriented.
The Ninth Gate Soundtrack: The Ninth Gate Soundtrack is a spooky, slow-moving album. There's an import version too, but I don't know if it's any different.
The Devil Rides Out: The Devil Rides Out: Film Music is a great collection of classic horror movie music.
George Crumb Works: Really, anything by George Crumb is sure to be creepy and disturbing while you game. He's a modern classical composer with a real dark feel. In addition to Works By George Crumb, look for Black Angels, 11 Echoes of Autumn, and Four Nocturnes as well.
The Thing Soundtrack: Ennio Morricone is great. Just about any soundtrack by him is guaranteed to be a good addition for your collection. Definitely pick up The Thing: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
Horror Movie Madness: Horror Movie Madness is a nice collection of various modern horror movie themes like Halloween, Hellraiser, and The Exorcist.
The Omen Soundtrack: You'll find classic, creepy stuff on The Omen: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Omen IV also has a good soundtrack. I don't know about the other sequels.
What music do you play during your games? Share your recommendations with everyone in the DMs Only Message Board. Go to Comment
I just found a great list of marvellous music for gaming. It is from Monte Cook, whos website has grown and expanded to a marvelous place to visit since the last time I was there, oh so long ago. The link is...
Bram Stoker's Dracula Soundtrack: I didn't put Dracula on the list last time because it has a cheesy pop song at the end (that's the problem with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and a number of others as well). The rest of the CD is so good, though, that I just had to recommend it. Just stop the CD before you get to the Annie Lennox song, or buy it and then burn your own version without the pop song on the end.
Vas Offerings: I recommended Vas last time. Here's another solid album, Offerings. Moody, fantasy stuff a la Dead Can Dance.
Clannad The Legend: This is a soundtrack for Robin of Sherwood. It's very Celtic, sweeping, atmospheric stuff. Good for about any fantasy session.
Arlington Road Soundtrack: You might be a little surprised to find this terrorist-in-the-suburbs movie soundtrack on the list, but mostly it's for the opening track. The whole of Arlington Road is good, but you won't find a more intense piece of music than the first track of this CD. It's composed by Angelo Badalamenti, the guy who did the Twin Peaks soundtrack. But where that was creepy, this one is driving and intense.
Leviathan Soundtrack: Jerry Goldsmith may do a lot of music for mediocre movies, but that doesn't mean that the soundtracks are bad. You can probably find this one kinda cheap, and it's great gaming music.
Dan Gibson's Solitudes: Thunderstorm in the Wilderness: This is almost an hour of an actual thunderstorm, but you can't beat it for atmosphere.
Douglas Irvine, Ambient Egypt: This is atmospheric background music for any game with an exotic or Middle Eastern flair -- or just a session in the desert.
Hunt for Red October Soundtrack: Yes, The Hunt for Red October is a submarine movie. But it's got a good, albeit short, soundtrack. The first track has a Russian choir singing, but you know, if dwarves sang in choirs, it would probably sound just like this.
Glen Danzig Black Aria: You might have heard others recommend Black Aria. They were right. Despite what you might think, it's not metal -- it's, well, an aria. Creepy and moody and exciting, it covers a lot of ground. But then, so do most D&D sessions....
The Count of Monte Cristo Soundtrack: This rollicking good, swashbuckler movie has a rollicking good, swashbuckling soundtrack.
First Knight Soundtrack: First Knight is not a great movie, but it has a good Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack.
Willow Soundtrack: Willow is another so-so movie (in my opinion) but a good soundtrack. (James Horner strikes again!)
Event Horizon Soundtrack: I was almost tempted to list this under "Horror," but you know, it's more intense than it is creepy. Great fight or chase music.
Just in time for Halloween, here are some spooky or disturbing CDs for a horror game:
Signs Soundtrack: Signs is good and chilling, just like the movie.
The Sixth Sense Soundtrack: While we're on the topic of M. Night Shyamalan's movies, this soundtrack is very quiet, and very creepy.
The Cell Soundtrack: The Cell is good, chilling stuff. Untraditional in the "Vincent Price movie soundtrack" sense, but good game music.
Final Conflict Soundtrack: Last time, I recommended The Omen. This sequel's soundtrack is just as good.
The Silence of the Lambs Soundtrack: I'll sometimes use this for fantasy games as well, although it's got a real sinister mood.
The Shroud, A Dark Moon Night: Okay, I don't want to get all goth on you, but A Dark Moon Night is soft, moody stuff. Kind of dark, but mostly just subdued. Good for exploring the woods at night or something.
Current 93 Faust: Okay, seriously. No messing around now. This is just freaky stuff. You can also look for a CD of theirs called Live at Bar Maldoror, although it is hard to find. Some of my players don't let me play this stuff while they're there. It's that freaky. While on the topic of hard to find, there's a French group called Tribe of Circle that's almost as disturbing, but difficult to track down. If you try Faust, and you're not mad at me afterward, try looking for Tribe of Circle, The Advent of Redemption. Go to Comment