We’re all familiar with soundtracks, whether for films, TV series, or video games. There are classics, such as John Williams’s Star Wars theme, Hans Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean score, and Jeremy Soule’s Dragonborn from Skyrim: Elder Scrolls. These are all epic and upbeat and perfect for getting things done to and just listening to with no context. Lately, however, I’ve been rather enjoying quieter, calmer soundtracks; it’s good to have some peaceful music in your playlists for when you don’t want to tense up to high-strung battle scores or chase scene soundtracks or “Invincible” by Two Steps from Hell. And no one can complain about your stressful tastes in music when you play these tracks. Another upside? You get to still listen to music from your favorite fandoms. Let’s get to it.
1. “Watashi No Uso,” from Your Lie in April
There are so many good tracks from this beautiful, emotional anime. A lot of them are classical piano pieces, as the storyline highlights the main character’s life as a pianist, “Winter Wind” being a favorite of mine (it starts peaceful, but don’t let that fool you). The entire anime is centered on music itself, which is one of the main reasons why I love it so much. I prefer the piano OST version of “Watashi No Uso,” which the link sends you over to on Spotify. The orchestral bits in the original piece add dynamic range, but the piano version is quieter and more calming.
2. “From Past to Present” from Skyrim: Elder Scrolls
This game has so many amazing tracks. “From Past to Present” is just one of the calming ones. Others are “The Bannered Mare,” “Far Horizons,” “The Streets of Whiterun” and “Ancient Stones” (my favorite as it features the hammered dulcimer). “Sovngarde” is also amazing, so do give it a listen if you haven’t yet. And keep an eye on your epicmeter as it may break.
3. “Medieval Waters” from In Bruges
I have never seen this movie, but I heard “Medieval Waters” on Spotify several years ago and it’s still one of my favorites and the first song on my writing playlist. It’s fairly short, featuring a cello (or a similar stringed instrument), a flute, and a piano. The melody is heard throughout the album for the movie soundtrack, and it’s probably the most relaxing movie soundtrack album I’ve heard. Apparently the movie takes place in a medieval town setting, which is all I need to want to see it, and this song captures the essence of that. It’s pretty and short and sweet.
4. “Subwoofer Lullaby” from Minecraft
I started playing Minecraft a month ago and it is the most therapeutic game I’ve ever played. The music is a big part of it. Now I’ll listen to the Minecraft soundtrack just because it’s simple and easy and calming. “Subwoofer Lullaby” is a favorite, and so is “Sweden” and “Minecraft,” all done by the artist C418, who is actually Daniel Rosenfeld, a German mucisian, producer, and sound engineer who composed the soundtrack for Minecraft.
5. “Dawn” from Pride & Prejudice
This whole album soundtrack is just really pleasant to listen to. “Dawn” is a popular track as most people, upon hearing it, immediately associate it with the movie––or mistakenly assume it’s a classical piece, as it sounds just like one. I’m not a huge fan of the Pride and Prejudice movies, but I do appreciate the writing and humor in the book. It’s a classic and it is a truth universally acknowledged, that any man in possession of a good amount of books, must also possess Pride and Prejudice.
6. “Nemo Egg (Main Title)” from Nemo
This song is short and sweet and one that can be easily sightread if you enjoy playing tracks on the piano. This piece is also a great sample of Thomas Newman’s style of film compositions. Newman tends to be heavy on the strings and piano and most of his scores are relaxing and less dominant than, say, other popular film score composers such as Hans Zimmer, John Williams, John Powell or Steve Jablonsky, to name a few.
7. “Nascence” from Journey
This beautiful song comes from the beautiful game, Journey. I’ve never played it before, but I’ve seen gameplay and trailers as it was used as an example of well-done design and game mechanics in class last semester. I haven’t listened to the entire album for the game soundtrack, but I would assume all of them have the same essence as “Nascence.”
8. “The Vagabond” from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I’ve never played The Witcher video games and I certainly don’t intend to, but oh man, these game soundtracks have some of the most beautiful medieval/fantasy-esque music and they do take up the majority of my writing playlist. Other tracks I highly recommend from this game are “A Nearly Peaceful Place,” “A Story you Won’t Believe,” “Geralt of Rivia,” “The Slopes of the Blessure,” “Peaceful Moments,” and “Tavern at the End of the World.” The composers vary, but the style and genre of the Witcher game soundtracks are all the same.
9. “Harry in Winter” from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
All of the Harry Potter movies have amazing soundtracks. Personally, I’m not a fan of Alexandre Desplat’s contribution with the two Deathly Hallows movies, but Nicholas Hooper, John Williams, and Patrick Doyle have made the Harry Potter movies as memorable as they are now because of their score compositions. Patrick Doyle’s score for The Goblet of Fire is amazing, and other great tracks from this movie include waltzes (“Potter Waltz,” and “Neville’s Waltz,”), “Hogwarts Hymn,” “Hogwarts March,” and “The Quidditch World Cup,” thus contributing to the worldbuilding with themes and leitmotifs.
10. “The Vikings Have Their Tea” from How to Train Your Dragon
Honestly saving the best for last here. How to Train Your Dragon is one of my all-time favorite movies, and the soundtrack is one of the reasons why that is the case. I can’t remember exact moments in the movie when this track plays, and it’s at the very end of the album which makes me think it was a composition that didn’t necessarily get put in the movie unless the melody had been used in the movie itself. This very sweet, calming track features the violin, flute, and bagpipes. Some favorites from the soundtrack album are, but not limited to, “This is Berk,” “Test Drive,” “New Tail,” and “Coming Back Around.”
What are some favorite relaxing movie/video game soundtracks of yours? Let me know in the comments below! If you can’t already tell, I do love a good music discussion.