Sunday, May 19, 2013

Soundtrack Suggestion: Bram Stoker's Dracula - Wojciech Kilar

Bram Stoker's Dracula
by Wojciech Kilar

Among the many soundtracks that I own, I must confess that for a long time, this was one which I practically constantly used during my World of Darkness games and not just for Vampire the Masquerade nor Vampire the Dark Ages, mind you.

The soundtrack contains lots of interesting pieces which I found useful in my games.  While I will readily admit to it being very vampire-centric in the mood, given today's uhm... wider stance on what's considered an acceptable Vampire concept, I can see why this soundtrack might be seen as too cheesy or overly dramatic by others.  But for those who like giving their games a dash of the theatrics, they will find this a pleasant option to explore.  But if you feel vampires must equal rock and roll, then feel free to move on and read something else.

Dracula - The Beginning (Track 01) opens with an almost silent start, that grows slowly, meticulously, and relentlessly into a terrifying crescendo.  The main leitmotif of the Dracula theme establishes itself here, and by the third minute mark, unearths itself like the proverbial vampire itself.  Then it continues, indulging further in its leitmotif but this time exploring it with haunting voices and a terrible growing percussive beat of fear.  In some ways, the emotional charge reminds me of how the JAWS theme embedded itself into so many of us - later returns to this soundtrack will have your players remembering the dark moments when they first heard this surround them in a scene.   Vampire Hunters (Track 02) on the other hand is a second leitmotif, and this one focuses on creating a musical signature to show the forces that stand against the darkness.  This track embodied focus and determination and your players will feel their tensions rising out of adrenaline when this baby is played.  Oh and best of all, it is very loop friendly. Mina's Photo (Track 03) is a haunting melody that reminds one of a nursery rhyme.  It plays gentle and romantic, and hints of a love undiscovered.  But with Lucy's Party (Track 04) the rhyme shifts from sweet to dangerous and seductive, with hints of darker things to come.  The music becomes ethereal here, with chimes hinting at a predator in one's midst.  This truly is one of the most tense-building gentle tracks I have ever encountered which I've used to highlight any dream turns into a dark nightmare sort of scene.  The Storm (Track 06) opens with a soft few key notes, then screeches into a horrific moment of terror, before it pulls back the chimes of Lucy's Party and dives headlong into a dance with the Vampire Hunter's theme.  An amazingly intricate piece which works wonderfully well for a scene regardless if the player is the prey or the predator.  Voices chant alongside the hunter's theme, and horns blare out passionate pleas as the piece swells into a more vibrant and bloody tune.  When the haunting singing joins in at the two minute mark, you are definitely given an atmosphere of danger and trepidation.   A pity this track is hard to loop.  

Love Remembered (Track 07), Mina/Dracula (Track 11) and Love Eternal (Track 13) reminds us of the gentler side of things, with touches of romance and hope in a dark heavy melody that yearns for escape.  I have also used Track 06 before to highlight a scene of an exposed betrayal and it worked just as well.   Track 13 however does end with an almost spiritual feel.  And if you used any of the earlier leitmotifs, you SHOULD then let it flow into Ascension (Track 14) for the perfect finish.

Vulnerability and pain are key to knowing when this track works.   The Hunt Builds (Track 08) is easily the companion piece to the second track and a perfect partner to The Hunters Prelude (Track 09).   Their loop-friendliness is a huge reason this soundtrack has been very useful for me.     If you used these track, then the End Credits (Track 15) is a must.  It nicely wraps everything back together, with shifts perfect for a montage.

But if you want to break the monotony, The Green Mist (Track 10) and The Ring of Fire (Track 121) are samples of tracks which you definitely will cue for specific moments.  And Annie Lennox' Love Song For a Vampire (Track 16) is a personal favorite.  I just truly love her musical touch.

So that's sixteen tracks

Bram Stoker's Dracula OST track suggestions:
WTF moment: The Green Mist (Track 10), The Ring of Fire (Track 12),  Love Song For a Vampire (Track 16)
Introspective/calm moment: Mina/Dracula (Track 11)
Tense/mystery moment:  Dracula - The Beginning (Track 01), Lucy's Party (Track 04), The Storm (Track 06)
Combat music: Vampire Hunters (Track 02), The Hunt Builds (Track 08), The Hunters Prelude (Track 09)
Hopeful moment: Love Remembered (Track 07),  Love Eternal (Track 13), Ascension (Track 14)
Drama/sad moment: Mina's Photo (Track 03), The Brides (Track 05), End Credits (Track 15)

Best Used In: Games where love and violence meet.  Games where darkness is not always purely just destructive.  Games where even in the bloodiest of moments, one might find a reason to believe in love.
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