Since I’ve started doing Minecraft Mondays, I’ve focused on the stuffs you can see. But what about the things you can hear? No, not the thwocking, crumbling wood as you take down a tree, or the clack-a-lackin’ of slimes under your Bastion of Awesome, or even the Ssssssilent approach and your sudden demise brought about by the daring Creeper. Nay! The music, friends! MUSIC!
This is actually kind of a merge of a few ideas I’ve had. A wee bit back I planned on doing posts each week about music in video games, but as time grows (and seems to stay) tight, I wanted to make sure I posted at least one thing a week. As the Misses and I were all about Minecraft, I opted to report on our travels instead of the ear juice. Consider this a bit of a “Compromise of Cool.”
Fans, new and old, feel free to hit play and let this run as you read on. No lyrics to distract ya are to be found in these tracks.
The music in Minecraft plays fairly randomly, and I’m sorry to admit that I usually have it turned off by accident. When I’m playing online with buds it can choke out ventrillo like a python. (Just turning it down low and you think a cellphone is going off every once and awhile, so I tend to leave it at 0%.)
The tracks C418 has assembled for the game are striking. For such a blocky game I expected to hear 8 bits and bloops in the background, but was treated to a savory soundtrack that still impresses. Actually, c418 did all of the audio in the game, I believe. But fans of the series already know the spooky sounds, and neither they nor newcomers will appreciate that unsettling sound (which signifies a large, dark cave nearby. Darkness means enemies, and unless you are in your base, you could very well be walking into a wide-open dungeon just out of sight. ) so I’m sticking to music tracks.
The music fits remarkably well within the game’s setting. If you are collecting supplies, relaxing next to a fire, or just looking out from atop of a tower made of dirt to survey the setting sun upon the horizon, it just gels.
The emphasis on piano or similar sounds is a nice change. Usually it’s a kicking drum beat or oomcha-ing bass. (Which I just spelled as “base,” sigh.) The subdued songs add a level of calming to the game, which fits the day cycles more so than the daunting night. Maybe it is even a way to catch a new player off guard to truly frighten them at night when the land grows dark and arrows start whizzing their way. Tricky, tricky.
Also interesting is how the songs commonly drop off into a lull of silence, and then another takes up the reigns, usually a more uplifting and bouncy tune. I think this helps as the music, while melodic, can sway either way from happy and bubbly, to depressingly heavy. If this second half is meant to perk up the player or due to a technical limitation I do not know, but now that I think about it, it could just as well be a way to end the music on a high note so that when you are lucky enough for it to pop up again, you are eager to hear it, and possibly relax you from your last zombie or giant slime scare.
As I mentioned above, the music does tend to have a certain ‘uplifting sadness’ about it. Reflective. Introspective. Reminds me of Shawshank Redemption when Red says:
” …something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it.”
Maybe it’s similar to alcohol. For one, we all know Minecraft is addicting as all heck, but maybe the music aspect of it is similar to booze. How some people are mad, get drunk, and are really mad till they sober up? Or sad, more sad, etc. Maybe it’s the Rorschach of a blocky world, an inkblot of the digital mind!
Somewhat recently, C418 added a few new tracks to the game, the above is an example. They tend to be more synthesized than a simple piano piece, but it still fits the setting and still features a ‘part two’ towards the halfway mark. There are even two hidden songs that can only be accessed by very specific ways and are fairly difficult to unearth. They do not play normally, and if you do not check out youtube or hack the game’s files you will never hear them.
To those curious, you have to find dungeon after dungeon and hope to get lucky with the chests granting you a record, or the more predictable but no-less simple method of beating a creeper to low health and having a skeleton shoot it and finish it off. Recently Creepers seem to blow up from further away, so this might be even more difficult than I recall.
Hopefully you all enjoyed this week’s installment! (If your eyes didn’t like it, I hope your ears did at least!) I may end up doing another once-a-week post about video game music, but no guarantees! I think this one went pretty well though, so we’ll see if this christened a new weekly post or not.
Either way, keep on crafting those mines!