Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Soundtrack Suggestion: Eyes Wide Shut - Jocelyn Pook

Eyes Wide Shut

Composed by Jocelyn Pook.

While I may be a fan of Stanley Kubrick movies I have to give special credit to Eyes Wide Shut for being the only movie whose soundtrack was really useful for enhancing table top games.  Most of the other movies had soundtracks that seemed very difficult to use in gaming. The music was too clearly tied to events, and shifts in the harmony were made to match scenes too directly.

In this one, however, the soundtrack is filled with numerous tracks that wonderfully develop a growing foreboding feeling that can be inserted into practically any kind of game that requires a disturbing and heavy atmosphere.  Most tracks barely have lyrics which can be easily identified, allowing for mood building and fear planting.

Many of the tracks have a solo piano as a backbone, playing proudly against the bleak silence.  Slowly, the strings and horns begin to join in as the melody transforms into a richer darker landscape of sound.  Others are lead by a jazzy guitar with an almost every-day sense of mood, allowing for great contrast in the musical choices you have available.  Then there are the cheerful piano pieces, and the familiar popular tracks which can be used to disarm and misdirect your players on how frightening a scene will eventually unfold.  My personal favorite is to use (track 05) When I Fall In Love to highlight a romantic sequence, and then later, reuse the song to highlight a serial murder in progress, or a terrible act of violence.  The contrasting impact of the two tracks makes a lovely dissonant mix that makes a sense very memorable.

But trust me when I say tracks like (track 13) Grey Clouds and (track 07) can become very infamous tracks which your players will forever attribute to "shit hitting the fan any moment."  And tracks like (track 08) Masked Ball are sure to freak your players out when they hear it playing in any scene you are running.  And I mean ANY!  The disturbing mood invoked by the chanting voice mingling with the electric organ draws out an almost primal fear of the unknown to the surface.  Save for games that have no frightening or weird moments in its narrative, this soundtrack is an absolute "worth buying" choice to any gaming group.

Eyes Wide Shut track suggestions
WTF moment: Waltz 2 From Jazz Suite (track 02), Masked Ball (track 08), Migrations (track 09),
Introspective/calm moment: Baby Did A Bad Thing (track 03), I Got it Bad (track 05), If I Had You (track 10), Strangers in the Night (track 11)
Tense/mystery moment: Musica Ricercata, II (track 01), Naval Officer (track 06), The Dream (track 07), Grey Clouds (track 13), Musica Ricercata, II (track 14)
Combat music: None, but if you want great dissonance, try using any of the WTF tracks.
Hopeful moment: When I Fall in Love (track 04),
Drama/sad moment: Blame It On My Youth (track 12)

Best Used In: Any game where horror or terror is part of the narrative.  I've used this in Exalted games, Science Fiction sagas, Psychological Thriller games, and even for Dungeons and Dragons sessions.  As long as you want to make any players feel uneasy or uncertain, this soundtrack delivers.  And it delivers very well.

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