My especial recommendations are the Rach' Symphonic Dances, Prokofiev Symphony 3 and Stravinsky's Firebird.
Dvorak: Legends: (No. 3) Elvish dance.***
Dvorak: Symphony 7: (1st mvmt) Dramatic introduction to adventure.****
Dvorak: Symphony 9 From the New World: This is so good it can be used for anything.*****
Khachaturian: Spartacus:(Suite No 2: Entrance of the Merchants) This is just Khachaturian being Khachaturian.*
(Suite No 2: Dance of the Pirates) Exactly what it says it is.****
(Suite No 3: Dance of a Greek Slave) Fast, furious combat music.**
Liszt: Totentanz: Anything demonic and death-related.*** ##
Mahler: Symphony 1: (1st mvmt) For all Star-Trek roleplayers: TNG must have ripped off the first minute of this symphony.*
Mahler: Symphony 5: (1st mvmt) Funeral march doesn't begin to sum it up. Mahler's music is so varied and contrasting that if you're looking for a particular atmospheric effect it'll be in one of his symphonies.***
Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave): Vast sea-cave filled with crashing waves, the home of the giant Fingal.*****
Mussorgsky: Night on a Bare Mountain: The best known musical portrayal of a Witches' Sabbath aside from Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique.
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition: (Bydlo) Slave camp or march of orcish warriors,****
(Catacombae, Con mortuis in lingua mortua) Candlelit, silent dungeon,***
(The Hut on Fowl's Legs) The appearance of any large monster.*****
(The Great Gate at Kiev) Heroic ending to an adventure.*****
Orff: Carmina Burana: Anything satanic (it's actually an ominous-sounding choral setting of some rude latin poems).****
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto 5: (2nd mvmt) March of the ungainly gnolls.*** ##
(3rd mvmt) Anything manic.*** ##
(5th mvmt) Revenge of the leprechaun legions.****
Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet: (Dance of the Knights) The best known part of the piece. Suitable for combat scenes. ***** ##
(Tybalt meets Mercutio & they fight) Any combat scene.***
Other extracts could be used for any purpose (it's a very wide-ranging piece).
Prokofiev: Symphony 3: (1st mvmt) The Abyss - you'll see what I mean. Just when you thought this was the man who wrote Peter & the Wolf, you find out he wrote this.***
(2nd mvmt) Mourning a dead PC.****
(3rd mvmt) Chase/combat music.****
(4th mvmt) The Abyss, generally evil combat music (even more so than the beginning of the 1st movement).***** ## ##
Rachmaninoff: Isle of the Dead: Atmospheric forest or sea at night.*****
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances: (1st) Conjures up images of rangers riding through dark forests away from the clouds of blackness.*****
(2) Weird evil woodfolk dancing in the dells and waterfalls,****
(3) Generally eldritch and Dungeon and Dragonsy.****
Rachmaninoff: Caprice Bohemien: Ominous fantasy on folk themes. Good backing for a poverty-stricken peasant-village or for adding weight to a prophesy or explication of a scenario. Dramatic introduction to an adventure.****
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