Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

Tara Voelker's thoughts. A lot about video games, a little about life

Wonderings of my mind, resulting in props for Akira Yamaoka

The random thoughts entering Tara’s head today (So sorry if is doesn’t have much direction.)

What is music? Expression? Art? A sequence of sound? Does it set a tone?
What is music to a game? An emotion? Part of the setting? Does it set the mood?

Music can frighten us, encourage us, give us strength, and make us laugh. That’s why it’s so important in the video game world. The sounds we hear and the melodies that are played can be just as memorable as the games themselves, and are important to setting the mood of the story.

The Silent Hill series has always relied heavily in their music to help set the mood. The ambient music and sounds effects were made to be suppressing, isolating, and frightening. Konami understood that they could use our ears to their advantage, and did so magnificently. The music was both industrial and depressing. Sometimes it seemed to mimic the heavy breathing of someone lost and alone, or the thudding heart beat of someone afraid and anxious. Sometimes the music just made you feel like the entire world was against you… that there was just something watching over you… and not in a good way. Just check out the beginning of this video:

The excellent music for the Silent Hill series didn’t stop there. The intro  to the original is one of the most rememberable song of any games, partially because of the mandolin that provides the song with an almost traditional Italian feel. It will always be one of my favorite songs from any game.

The theme song was so popular it landed in the Guitar Hero series.

What’s truly interesting is all but one or two songs for the Silent Hill series (and the movie) were written by one person, who volunteered after working on another project.

Akira Yamaoka has worked on other video game series, but it’s his work with Silent Hill that has made me fall in love with him.  Akira is able to fill his music with the dark and lonely undertones that are needed to complete the setting that is Silent Hill. It’s almost like these songs come to him in his sleep… It’s even been said that he completed “Theme of Laura” for Silent Hill 2 in three days.

There’s just something in his head that works…. Akira is a musical genius, and video games are his medium. I don’t think I’d like it any other way.

What is music? It’s a feeling, the voice in your head, the tear on your cheek… but it’s so much more. It’s the monster under your bed, and the laughter at a funny joke. Yamaoka can capture it…

Do me a favor, just start this next song, and close your eyes… listen to the piano… Feel the sadness in the music… imagine walking through the streets alone…. Then when it’s over, open your eyes… Then remember the this was written for a video game… written by one man, who has defined a series.

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2 responses to “Wonderings of my mind, resulting in props for Akira Yamaoka

  1. Nibbles43 July 17, 2009 at 1:02 am

    I was always a big fan of “Promise” off the SH2 soundtrack, even though it was cheesy and repetitive. The first E3 I got to go to was the one where they put together the trailer using it in the beginning, so I think there’s a big nostalgic factor for me there.

    • ladieaupair July 17, 2009 at 1:13 am

      I completely understand. My favorite was always the original theme song, but then I heard “Witchcraft” from Homecoming and it was my new love. They’re all pretty much amazing though. Thanks for adding them the “Promise” video for sure.

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