Background Music

I mean, seriously? Why?
Why has no one invented this?

It’s the weekend, I’ve had better weeks and I’m wondering if anyone ever feels that the voice of Destiny has spoken to them. Literally stamped words of guidance onto your soul. If this is you, then two things apply. Firstly, seek help. Secondly, we should go for a beer.

I’m not a musician. Not by any definition of the word no matter how bastardised or abused. I can’t sing, I can’t always tell how what I’m singing is wrong and I can’t meaningfully play any instruments. I bought a violin about 18 months ago which I have played for about 18 minutes. Whilst all of this is true, I love music.

I’m not the most devoted fan of any particular band, I’m not a fanatical student of any particular style or school. I’m not even going to say that I know particularly much about it. What I do know is that I pay £9.99 for Spotify Premium and it is easily the best money I spend each month. There are many things in my life that I would sooner be without.

I’m aware that I’m not putting forward a particularly novel viewpoint when my thoughts can broadly be summarised as ‘Music is Great, innit?’. But it has dawned upon me recently how much my mood and demeanour can be affected by music, or indeed the lack thereof.

I played a lot of video games when I was younger. I still do, but not to the same extent. Over that time I’ve probably played hundreds of different games. Some of them were excellent, many were terrible and the majority were somewhere inbetween. I never really thought of music as being particularly integral to the whole experience. But looking back the soundtrack to a game is hugely important. It would not be wrong to say that a terrible soundtrack can stop a good game from being a great game.

I have got a video game music playlist on as I am writing this. There is a particular piece of music which has just played (Prelude from FF7) that I have not heard in quite a while. When it started it felt as though someone had sent a jolt of electricity down my spine. This was a game that I played when I was about 9 or 10 and I think it had a big impact on me. Long story (understatement) short, ragtag group of adventurers save the world. I won’t go into the game itself too much, but just hearing that music again took me straight back. Conjured a whole world of thought and emotion in an instant. Pretty powerful stuff.

That game is actually an excellent example of a soundtrack being a key part of the overall feel of the game. Different music at different points guides you towards different thoughts and feelings. If you heard The Turks approaching, you knew something was going to happen. It probably wasn’t going to be good. I’m sure someone cleverer than me could tell you whether the music is designed to inspire those feelings or becomes associated with it. Doesn’t matter to me too much. The soundtrack is a clear guide to what is happening.

I sometimes wish that life could be that simple. Different pieces of music will forever evoke different emotions and feelings for me. Some more powerful than others, but all instinctual on some level. If I’m in a bad mood then often the easiest thing for me to do is back away from the situation, listen to some music and calm the hell down. At other times music will inspire me to push on and achieve more. The right music in the gym is pretty potent at the right time.

I haven’t really got some deep seated observation to end this post on. So I’ll revert back to my position as expressed in the beginning.

Music is Great, innit?

Alex

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