A Life in Music

December is my month for nostalgia, for making at least one retrospective post about
something. I keep feeling like it should be about writing, since my first novels came out
this year, but my heart isn’t really in it; I’ve been talking about writing a fair bit all
year, so I don’t feel like I’ve got something I really need to say and haven’t.

So instead, this post is about gaming, and specifically about two interrelated bits of
nostalgia. Last night I finished making the last soundtrack for Ree, and wanted to post the
full track listing for anybody who’s interested — mostly for those who have copies and might
want to know what the songs are; if you don’t know the character or the game, a random list of
songs probably won’t mean much. Page down for the actual nostalgia, and an explanation of why
it ran to five CDs in the end.


VAREKAI I: BEGINNINGS

    Ireland, 2000

  • “Carrickmacross I: ‘The Foggy Dew'”

         [Sinead O’Connor with The Chieftains, The
    Long Black Veil
    , “The Foggy Dew”]

  • “Carrickmacross II: ‘Follow Me up to Carlow'”

         [The Young Dubliners, “Follow Me up to
    Carlow”]

  • “Anthropophagi on the Road”

         [Bill Whelan, The Roots of Riverdance,
    “Bridge Attack”]

  • “Prophecied of Sinn Fein”

         [Ronan Hardiman, Lord of the Dance,
    “Warriors”]

  • “Across the Isle of Man”

         [J. J. Pearce Symphonic I Band, “and the
    mountains rising nowhere . . .”]

  • “The Cave”

         [Klaus Badelt, Equilibrium, “Hidden
    Souls”]

  • “The Cauldron”

         [Garmarna, Vittrad, “Klevebergselden
    (Kleveberg’s Fire)”]

  • “The Change”

         [Glenn Danzig, Black Aria, “The
    Morrigu”]
    Krivchenko and Varekai

  • “Foul-Mouthed Bitch”

         [“The Terrible Mr. Grimshaw”]

  • “Patterns in History”

         [10,000 Maniacs, “Hateful Hate”]

  • “The New World”

         [Enigma, Cross of Changes, “Silent
    Warrior”]

  • “Angry All the Time”

         [Rammstein, “Du Hast”]

VAREKAI II: WANDERINGS

    Elegbara

  • “Varekai”

         [Cirque du Soleil, Varekai, “Kèro
    Hiréyo”]

  • “Breaking Free”

         [Dead Can Dance, Toward the Within,
    “Cantara”]

  • “The Road Is Home”

         [Metallica, S&M, “Wherever I May
    Roam”]

  • “Outsider”

         [Metallica, Garage, Inc., “Turn the
    Page”]
    Xochitlicácan

  • “Tinta Como Sangre/Xochitlicácan”

         [Bond, Born, “Kismet”? (aka
    Changeling: Season 3, “The Silver Road”)]

  • “Otlicálcatl”

         [James Horner, The Mask of Zorro, “The
    Ride”]

  • “Oaxaca”

         [Madonna, Die Another Day, “Die Another
    Day”]

  • “Scars That Won’t Heal”

         [Evanescence, Fallen, “My
    Immortal”]
    The Great Jaguars

  • “The Ocelotzin”

         [Junior Homrich, The Emerald Forest,
    “The Jaguar Theme”]

  • “Eyes of Blood”

         [Junior Homrich, The Emerald Forest,
    “The Burning Forest”]

  • “Eyes of Sun”

         [Junior Homrich, The Emerald Forest,
    “Trance Dance”]

VAREKAI III: BREAKINGS

    Season Three

  • “The Dark of the Moon”

         [Metallica, S&M, “No Leaf Clover”]

  • “In the Field of Crystal Flowers”

         [Dead Can Dance, Dead Can Dance, “The
    Trial”]

  • “Anime Ree”

         [Gustav Holst, The Planets, “Mars, the
    Bringer of War”]

  • “Lucas/Zephyros”

         [Heather Alexander, Life’s Flame, “Blood
    Brothers”]

  • “Resistance”

         [Dream Theater, Train of Thought, “As I
    Am”]

  • “The Abyss: Blood”

         [James Horner, Braveheart,
    “Revenge”]

  • “The Abyss: Darkness”

         [Faith and the Muse, The Evidence of
    Heaven
    , “The Chorus of Furies”]

  • “Blind Confidence”

         [Changeling: Season 3, “The Rovers
    Theme”]

  • “Midnight Memories”

         [Dream Theater, Images and Words, “Wait
    for Sleep”]

  • “Sacrifice”

         [“La Fiesta Mexicana I: Prelude and Aztec
    Dance” (excerpt)]

  • “Transition: Ree’s Dreamers”

         [“Evanescence, Fallen, “Bring Me to
    Life”]

VAREKAI VI: ENDINGS

    Season Four

  • “Transition: Shattered Again”

         [Faith and the Muse, Vera Causa: The Night
    CD
    , “Shattered in Aspect (Bass_x Remix)”]

  • “Daykeeper of the Elegbara”

         [pale 3, Run Lola Run, “Casino”]

  • “Under the Light of the Full Moon”

         [Evanescence, Origin, “Eternal”

  • “The Empire of Flowers”

         [Juno Reactor, Mortal Kombat:
    Annihilation
    , “Conga Fury”]

  • “Fragments of Self”

         [Evanescence, “Breathe No More”]

  • “Blood Lightning/Samhain”

         [E. S. Posthumus, Unearthed,
    “Tikal”]

  • “Cama de Sangre”

         [Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once
    More With Feeling
    , “Suite From ‘Restless’: Willow’s Nightmare/First Rage/Chain of
    Ancients”]

  • “Childhood’s Dream”

         [Chrono Cross, “Time’s Scar”]

  • “Coal”

         [Faith and the Muse, The Burning Season,
    “The Burning Season”]

  • “Skullfucked”

         [Rob Dougan, The Matrix: Reloaded,
    “Furious Angels”]

  • “Imbolc Ritual”

         [Wojciech Kilar, The Ninth Gate,
    “Balkan’s Death”]

  • “Visions and Horrors”

         [Michael Kamen and Orbital, Event
    Horizon
    , “The Event Horizon”]

  • “A Friend to Walk Beside”

         [Green Day vs. Oasis vs. Travis, “Boulevard of
    Broken Songs”]

  • “The End of the Path”

         [Linkin Park, Reanimation, “Krwling
    (Mike Shinoda ft. Aaron Lewis)”]

  • “Esperar”

         [Apocalyptica, Cult, “Hope”]

VAREKAI V: RETELLINGS

    Season Five

  • “Retold”

         [Enya, Shepherd Moons, “Book of
    Days”]

  • “In Dreams”

         [Juno Reactor, Labyrinth, “Conquistador
    I”]

  • “The Daughter of Owls”

         [John Williams, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, “Lumos! (Hedwig’s Theme)”]

  • “Mantokele”

         [Joe LoDuca, Brotherhood of the Wolf, “Mani and the Gypsies”]

  • “Willowgrove”

         [Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, Sleeping
    Beauty
    , “A Cottage in the Woods”]

  • “The Heralds of Spring”

         [Cirque du Soleil, Journey of a Man,
    “Overture”]

  • “Siege at Tara”

         [Joe LoDuca, Brotherhood of the Wolf,
    “Savage Duel”]

  • “Dancing with Winter”

         [Cirque du Soleil, Mystere, “Rumeurs”
    (selection)]

  • “The World Before”

         [Don Davis, Matrix Revolutions, “Why,
    Mr. Anderson?”]

  • “Full Circle”

         [Loreena McKennitt, Parallel Dreams,
    “Huron ‘Beltaine’ Fire Dance”]

  • “On White Wings”

         [Brian Gascoigne and Junior Homrich, The
    Emerald Forest
    , “Main Title – Tomme Goes Missing – Tomme and Kachiri”]

  • “Shadow Self”

         [Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, Batman
    Begins
    , “Macrotus” (selection)]

  • “The Horn of Sinn Féin”

         [David Arnold, Independence Day,
    “Evacuation”]

  • “Remember the Gato Bán”

         [Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, Batman
    Begins
    , “Myotis”]

  • “Dún Aengus”

         [James Horner, Braveheart, “The Battle
    of Stirling”]

  • “Over the Edge/Oriana’s Choice”

         [pale 3, The Princess and the Warrior,
    “The Escape”]

  • “Arcadia”

         [Joe LoDuca, Brotherhood of the Wolf,
    “Epilogue”]

  • “Through the Gate”

         [Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: The
    Return of the King
    , “The Steward of Gondor”]

  • “Facing Autumn”

         [Cirque du Soleil, , “We’ve Been
    Waiting for So Long”]

  • “Instructions”

         [Neil Gaiman, “Instructions”]

Sixty-nine songs in all, for a total of about five hours of music. Or so iTunes tells
me.

The whole “character soundtrack” notion (along with the “game soundtrack” notion) is
something I picked up here in Indiana; while I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that gamers
elsewhere do the same thing, I never encountered it before coming here, and have yet to hear
of any other groups where it’s so widespread — and apparently contagious.

I originally put together a playlist for Ree just as mood music; she was a difficult
character to play, and music helped. After a while, I assigned identities to the songs, some
to reflect particular aspects of her personality, others to soundtrack particular events in
her life. I added new things to the list and shuffled them into groupings, and ended up with
two “background” CDs and about half of a Season Three soundtrack (the game being organized
into roughly year-long “seasons,” for those not familiar with it). Season Four was the first
one I constructed from the ground up as a coherent whole, and Season Five is the one I
finished last night.

I’ve learned a lot about soundtrack-making along the way, which is the first of the two
reasons I’m making this post. This set spans the time from when I was first toying with the
notion of soundtracks and learning how to use Nero to make labels and inserts, to the present
moment when I’ve become far more efficient in choosing songs and proficient in producing the
soundtracks as physical objects. (I can put labels on straight, now, and make Nero dance on
command. ^_^) There are things I would probably do better if I went back, but the set should
stand as it is, as evidence of my learning curve. I don’t know that this qualifies as the end
of that curve — there might still be more to learn — but I love making soundtracks these
days, and there’s a distinct possibility my approach to game music will start being reflected
in my approach to writing music. Novel soundtracks may be in my future.

My other reason for nostalgia is that Ree is the one and only truly long-term character
I’ve experienced so far in my gaming career. I played briefly in some online games while in
high school, then started on face-to-face gaming in college, where the longest I played in a
campaign was one semester. (Lords of Chaos ran for longer, but I was only in it for a short
while.) My friends, in the fine tradition of Harvard students, would start games and then
drop them because of over-committment to other responsibilities. Mind you, these days they’ve
got a LARP that I believe is in its third year, so clearly things have changed a bit. But
when I was there, the abortive games I was in outnumbered the lasting ones. Since coming to
grad school, things have picked up distinctly, but so far nobody’s in a league to compete with
Ree: I started playing her in (I believe) December of 2002 and stopped in October of 2006.
Allegra, her nearest rival, is about a year younger and has suffered some lengthy hiatuses due
to game-scheduling problems.

So after nearly four years of play, five soundtracks, various bits of gaming fic, and a
tendency for her to be somewhere in the back of my mind at all times, Ree is finally stepping
down. I could go on playing her, but frankly, I’m done. And oddly, I think her soundtrack
stands as the strongest statement of that completion: I love the way it ends, and anything
further would feel tacked on.

And then go home
Or make a home
Or rest.

0 Responses to “A Life in Music”

  1. danielmc

    i love the I-IV i have (are the ones listed here the same? did you remix?)
    i look forward to the last one.
    lots of great music

    tam’s looks to be a double cd to cover seasons 4 and 5 and widescreen.

    • Marie Brennan

      What you’ve got should be the same, though I believe I did add one song (“Midnight Memories”) to Season Three after I distributed it. (The lyrics were just too perfect to pass up.)

      I’m very pleased with the last one. It’s weirdly skewed — nine songs to cover most of season five, seven songs for the Hounds of Éireann quest (all month or two of it), and then four songs for the last game, really. It’s even more skewed when you figure the first four songs cover the start of season five. But that’s a pretty accurate ratio of how the season lodged in my memory, so hey.

      • danielmc

        just been listening to V.
        wow. well done.

        where did you aquire the final track of Neil talking? spendid.

        (FYI: Tam 3 is with margaret. there will be a Tam/Taliesin after the WS game is done.)

        • Marie Brennan

          Glad you like it; I’m pretty pleased with how it came together.

          Gaiman posted a link to that mp3 some years ago; if I recall correctly, it comes off one of the audio CDs of his work, but I’m not sure which one.

          Hey, look, I get to use my soundtracking icon! <g>

  2. d_c_m

    Thank you for your post. It is awesome.

    I started making soundtracks for my characters in high school. No I wasn’t gaming but I would pick songs for characters that I portrayed in high school plays.

    a tendency for her to be somewhere in the back of my mind at all times,
    That’s how I feel about Eleanor. She is always there. I even put a love song to her on my soundtrack. I will post the Webpage I am making about the soundtrack asap.

  3. elizaeffect

    I’ve been doing this unconsciously, listening to specific playlists when I want to get in character, but I might as well make it official and compile a list sometime. Thanks for the idea. πŸ˜›

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