Top 10 Relaxing Soundtracks

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.

Movie Review: Black Panther

Black Panther was fantastic. Picking up from where we saw T’Challa last, in Civil War, It was refreshingly different for a Marvel movie, with emphasis on the African culture of Wakanda, its myth, and its people, as well as the breaking of racial and gender stereotypes, which I LOVED. Many movies and TV shows with main characters of color today usually have a plot focusing on racial tensions, a hot topic in current world politics. But Black Panther had none of that. The entire story was focused on Wakanda, its ruler, and the tensions coming from the aftermath of not only T’Chaka’s death, but also the revelation of N’Jadaka, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, T’Challa’s first cousin and nemesis.

Black Panther - Tea with Tumnus

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Writing Medieval Fantasy with Celtic Music (Playlist Included)

Medieval fantasy is my overall favorite genre. It incorporates a fantasy setting and a ficticious version of history from such time periods. Examples include Lord of the Rings, Ranger’s Apprentice, The Chronicles of Narnia, Robin Hood, The Name of the Wind, The Chronicles of Prydain, the Inheritance Cycle, etc. Pretty much anything that has to do with castles, dragons, rangers, epic battles and journeys on horseback. Stereotypically speaking, there are usually heroic persons in mysterious hoods, capes, and/or cloaks, ancient British Isles settings, a sad lack of technology with an abundance of magical superpowers and prehistoic weapons, you get the picture.

writing-medieval-fantasy-with-celtic-music-playlist-included-tea-with-tumnus

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“Lone Ranger Finale” – A Hans Zimmer/Rossini Mash-Up Score

All film score composers are inspired by classical artists. Especially for the traditionally orchestral film composers, of course it’s going to sound classical, they use the orchestra after all. For example, John Williams’s style is more classical than contemporary and a lot of his scores are in the classical style; he even writes sonatas and symphonies! But other times it’s so obvious you can even hear a distinct tune that you know came from a classical piece. This is what Hans Zimmer does. Not only does he take just mere elements from classical music, but the tune, the song itself, and makes it his style. One of the songs he does this with is “To the Opera” from Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows to accompany an action scene involving an opera and the score fits in perfectly with the movie. You can read about that in the post “To the Opera!” – A Hans Zimmer/Mozart Mash-up Score. Another example I’m focusing on in this post is “Lone Ranger Finale” or “The Lone Ranger Theme.”

Lone Ranger Finale - A Hans ZimmerRossini Mash-Up ScoreRead More »

Potential in the Prequels: Appreciating the Hated Star Wars Episodes I-III

In the Star Wars fandom, there are not many who like Episodes I, II, and III as much as the older trilogy and even the new Force Awakens. I find that there are two main reasons for why this is so: 1) The expectations were high and 2) They were poorly done, from the writing to the acting to the overdone CGI. And honestly I don’t know anyone who thinks Jar Jar is funny. Fortunately, however, what makes a “good movie” doesn’t require only good acting, script, and effects. The characters, the plot points, the storytelling are also what makes a movie enjoyable. This goes for the Star Wars prequels; the story quality completely overrides the filming quality in these three films. For reasons I personally can’t understand, the Prequels did the fanbase a lot of damage and nearly gave Star Wars a bad name.

“But,” some of you may say,  “The Prequels ruined the feel for the original three. They’re so different from the movies we grew up with. We love Star Wars because of Darth Vader, Luke, the Millennium Falcon, the Rebel Alliance. We love Star Wars because of the evil Empire, the lightsabers, Han Solo and Chewie, the soundtrack. We love Star Wars because of Star Wars. And that’s true. But if you haven’t yet noticed, the title says “Appreciating The Hated Star Wars Episodes I-III.”

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Movie Review – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

***WARNING*** SPOILERS!!! (SARCASM MAY OR NOT BE DETECTED.) READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I hope you aren’t sick of Star Wars Yet, because there’s more coming! (Is there any such thing as being “sick of Star Wars” anyway?) Unfortunately, this post has spoilers, but the high box office records tell me that I shouldn’t worry too much about that at this point.

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John Williams’s Score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Never have I been more excited to see a movie in a theater.

December 18th is coming up, and what with all the Star Wars marathons and environment everywhere you go, it’s nearly impossible for someone not to know about the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Well, somehow I managed not to write a post specifically on Star Wars during the last few months. Sometimes I just don’t understand myself.

So, without further ado, since this is the last Tuesday before the Big Day, I will wait no longer and share some Star Wars excitement here and talk a bit about what we know about John Williams and his score for the movie.Read More »

Film Score Origins: The Creation of the Marvel Studios Fanfare

What a creative way to begin the Ant-man movie, yes? People sat back in the seats, eyes wide open in the dark, heart pounding, waiting to hear Brian Tyler’s glorious and triumphant Marvel Fanfare and … hey, I don’t speak Spanish. (But I thought it was great.)

Today I’ll share with you information on the origins of the old Marvel fanfare and the inception of the new one, how it was made, why it was made, when it was made, and who composed it. This is not a post on film score news since the new theme came with Thor: Dark World in 2013, but I thought hey, why not do a little post on it anyways? And why didn’t Ant-man keep the theme in? Well, for creativity’s sake.Read More »

Michael’s Movie Mentions: A John Williams and Hans Zimmer Comparison

Quick, try to think, out of all the film composers who exist in the whole world today, which one is the ‘best’, and most well-known. Probably eight out of ten of most people would think: Hans Zimmer. If you did, it was a good guess. If the names of all the film composers who still compose today were to be assembled, two impressive figures would stand out as most prominent: John Williams and Hans Zimmer. Really, it is hard to select only one of the two when it comes to the matter of who is the ‘best’ or ‘most well-known’. John Williams and Hans Zimmer are very different; they are famous for different reasons, and also prominent for different reasons. A comparison is certainly needed here…and though an argument could be made for ‘John Williams over Hans Zimmer’ on a list from greatest to least, all I will do here is compare the two:

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“To the Opera!” – A Hans Zimmer/Mozart Mash-Up Score

Finally, a post on a film score. Haven’t done too much music discussions, so I decided to do one now, on one of my favorite film scores: “To the Opera!” By Hans Zimmer from Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.

I love many different varieties and genres of music, from heavy metal instrumentals to classical, from indie pop to Celtic lullabies. Two of my main favorite genres are classical and film scores, so what’s better than a classical/Hans Zimmer mash-up, such as this particular film score?

To the Opera! A Hans Zimmer ScoreRead More »