Discussion in 'Civ3 - Steampunk Scenario' started by Balthasar, Feb 21, 2011.
Yessir. We've reached the point where we're ready to talk music..
Will links to short samples (amazon.com for example) work for discussion of music others might be unfamiliar with?
I don't see why not.
N.B.: Don’t be put off by the length of this post. Almost all of what’s in the spoilers is titles of songs with links. I apologize in advance if any of the urls got clipped in copying. At least that’s correctable.
Settling on a soundtrack raises a lot of issues. It may even rise to the level of defining the frontiers of steampunk. Here’s my take on some of what deserves consideration.
At the beginning of Anno Dracula is a passage that disparages “murgatroyds” - dandified vampires in lace & capes. This can be taken as a dig at the goth fashion scene of the last couple of decades. Gingerbread Coffin by Rasputina & Coin-Operated Boy by The Dresden Dolls are frequently enjoyed items in my collection. The point is that there is plenty of music marketed as steampunk that isn’t, imho. To my ears it’s just “goths with gears”. Which evokes the central quandary about music for the steampunk scenarios. What makes it steamy & what makes it punk? Stretch your mind with this: imagine Vernian Process doing an instrumental version of Are You Experienced as a soundtrack for the Lumières' “Arrival of a Train”. Not sure if it’s steampunk, but it blows the lid right off the cogitator, imho. The Clockwork Cabaret plays some other sorts of eye-openers like Take This Waltz (Leonard Cohen) or Little Drop of Poison by Tom Waits
Is the quest for a specific genre or style, certain kinds of lyrical content, steampunk instrumentation (whatever that might mean), something veritably Victorian albeit in an alternate history, or what ? Does the scenario need to have a single style of music, or is there room for some PoMo juxtaposition? One way to frame the question is “ what would an ideal soundtrack of a steampunk movie sound like?”
None of these particular compositions are being suggested for the scenario. They are offered in consideration of the questions raised.
does it have a punk attitude ?
Cha Cha - Balkan Beatbox
Shipping Up To Boston - Dropkick Murphys
Jack the Ripper - Motörhead
sounds like it’s played by some sort of weird steampunk instruments ?
Requiem For Adam - Terry Riley (played by Kronos Quartet)
played in the style of the period ?
Le Fakir de La Chapelle Anemic Cinema (1995 / 1997) - Pascal Comelade
Sailor Shirts - Adam Green
Suspended In Gaffa - Kate Bush
Being For The Benefit of Mister Kite - Beatles
includes steampunkish elements such as sound effects or samples ?
Yellow Submarine - Beatles
Watcher of the Skies - Genesis Revisted - Steve Hackett (telegraph)
Mr. Blue Sky - ELO (aetheric / radio modulations at start)
Welcome to the Machine - Pink Floyd
something in the timbre or rhythm?
Khokovula - Zola
Bad You Know - R. L. Burnside
H. G. Wells (track 7) - Robert Fripp
aurally evokes a steampunk image or feeling?
Timesteps [Excerpt] - Wendy Carlos (mysterious place mysterious machine)
Three Fates - ELP (something Captain Nemo might play?)
lyrical content regardless of style?
John Henry - Doc Watson
Working In A Coal Mine - Devo
One of Our Submarines - Thomas Dolby (or any other of his many cracked boffin songs)
South Side of the Sky - Yes (polar exploration)
Chung Kuo - Vangelis (reaching the secret valley)
Agharta - Afrika Bambaataa (hollow earth)
- reaching progressively closer to the source
modern versions of period songs
Lancers Medley & Let's All Go Down The Strand - A Victorian Christmas Revels
wax analog recordings of period musicians
I'm Going Away To Wear You Off My Mind - King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band
Liberty Bell March - John Phillips Sousa
the composers’ performance captured by hand-played piano roll
Rosebud - Scott Joplin (William Albright playing careful reconstructions from damaged piano rolls)
Shreveport Stomps - Jelly Roll Morton (played by the master himself)
the very music the Victorians themselves actually played in their homes - not modern reconstructions
Ten Air Cylinder Box With Drums And Bells - The Three Disc Symphonion
read about the technology here
Last but not least, my personal favorite & one of the earliest steampunk bands. A proper mix of Victorian style & sentiment with Punk style & attitude, imho. Wish there was a full and primarily instrumental soundtrack by them.
Death On Two Legs
God Save The Queen
The track is laid. At least the first section.
There ought to be something provocative in all that.
Amazing how fast I can type, eh what?
why bother infringing copyright? I'm happy to post stuff I've composed for use in scenarios, and if anyone else plays music maybe they should do the same... that way we'd get a totally original soundtrack for a totally original scenario
...just a thought...
as for 'what makes it steam and what makes it punk?' well... I've already mentioned The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, who essentially combine musical saw, steampunky samples, jaunty piano and acoustic guitars with a whole lot of crust punk to make something best described as steamPUNK... you avoid goths with gears by not over-emphasising orchestral music, doomy sub-bass and angsty, dark lyrics (NO SONGS ABOUT JACK THE RIPPER!!!!!)... you make it punk by using punk rhythms and playing styles. Frankly, steampunk as a genre and the Victorian age as an era are full of opportunities to discuss trad 'punk' themes (child labour? check! benevolent dictatorship disguised as democracy? check! wayward youths? check! street gangs? check! rich dandies trying to live a life of danger? check! drugs? check! decadence? check! repressive attitudes to sex, gender relations, race and freedom of speech? check! colonial rebellions? check check!
Where's the disagreement?
The choices I made were from tunes I legitimately own. Every link posted is from respectable sites, not things I uploaded. I used short samples from Amazon.com where available & youtube as a last resort.
We're on the same page as far as original music goes. You've posted in another thread that you are using samples, iirc. It should be noted that Hikaro was given permission by Vernian Process to use their music. The permission extends to other CFCers. VP's earlier version of Behold The Machine can be downloaded for free at their website. Several of us have other free material they had posted at another site that has since been taken down.
The point of the previous post is provide samples to open up discussion about music in a way that people other than musicians can knowledgeably contribute. Incorporating sections of VP's "Crime of the Century" or "Curse of Whitechapel" might give a proper atmosphere without being recognizable as specific references to J the R while playing the scenario, for example.
It would be nice to have something with a Victoriental flavor available. Some of the scenarios - such as the Hollow Earth - will include Middle Eastern, Indian Subcontinent, and East Asian elements.
In defense of our music... it isn't all dark and gloomy, but we happen to really enjoy dark and gloomy music. The songs on our current album only scratch the surface of the more serious subject matter we are working on. The whole point of this album was to make it as traditional Steampunk as possible to hook new listeners. Then we can drop some bombs.
Let me see here, right off the top of my head... here are some of the topics of songs we are working on:
(These are from a concept album about atrocities that various empires committed throughout the mid 19th - mid 20th Centuries)
The Areminian Massacre at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
The British Empire's attempt at wiping out Ireland with the Great Potato Famine.
The Boer Wars and the general messed up history of South Africa during the Victorian era.
The biological experimentation of Japan during WW2 in camps such as Unit 731.
The torture and genocide caused by the Chekists during the Russian Revolution.
(we have a full album of songs about many more atrocities than these as well)
And for a few more on the social and philosophical tip we are writing songs about:
The wild rumors that Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Caroll) was in love with Alice Lidel (the young girl who was his inspiration for the Wonderland books).
A hip-hop track (with a very special guest MC) that explores the parallels between the social conditions of the 1880's and the 1980's, and how very little has changed in a hundred years.
The next album is titled "The Consequences of Time Travel", and the title song is that of a Time Traveler reflecting on all of the poor decisions he has made in his attempts to correct history. And reflecting on the fact that no matter what time period he goes to, humans always have the exact same problems.
Basically that's a peek at where we are going lyrically. The whole Castlevania-esque overblown orchestral sound is just a preference we have. We don't expect everyone to like it, and that's ok. We aren't going to use it all the time, in fact we are trying to incorporate styles from a vast range of different cultures. Hell we aren't even worried about sticking to the whole Steampunk aesthetic either. We will always make our music as atmospheric as possible, regardless of genre or influences.
And in defense of "The Curse of Whitechapel", if you really look into the lyrics, it isn't a song "about" Jack the Ripper... it's a song about his thought process, and how he justifies his actions as some kind of noble act to save humanity from certain doom. It's kind of a black comedy in a way.
Oh and I happen to really enjoy The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. As well as many, many other artists who are proudly waving the Steampunk banner these days. We are actually planning on doing a small EP of Steampunkified covers of various appropriate Punk songs (i.e. Exploited - Troops of Tomorrow, Blitz - New Age, The Adicts - Joker in the Pack, etc).
Welcome to CFC, VP!
I hope it's clear that I enjoy your music & the other musicians I mentioned. My disappointment is definitely only towards those who have a very narrow definition of the steampunk aesthetic. "Dark & gloomy" encompasses everything from Queen (ie "Death On Two Legs") to Kronos Quartet (try listening to Black Angels without getting unsettled), imho. I look forward to hearing what you do with the projects / topics you mentioned above.
I hope we can look forward to more postings from you - and about more than just the music.
P.S. - I interpreted Sir Sam Vines J the R comment as in reference to the Motorhead song, rather than yours.
Ahhh! I see, ok that makes more sense. I actually get a lot of comments from people that don't like our music because it is too dark and heavy for them, so I'm kind of used to speaking up in its defense lol.
Oh my it is late, I really must get to sleep. I will try to respond to your other comments tomorrow.
I actually like your stuff... and the Ripper comment was about the Moterhead song...
Just one thing, as an Irishman myself, its just the Great Famine and, no matter what the IRA say, it wasn't an attempt at genocide on behalf of the government (eg, say, the USSR-engineered Ukrainian famine). It was a combination of economic mismanagement, lack of any economic management at all and greedy individuals, making it the food equivilant of the current banking crisis
And I wasn't critiquing your use of orchestral music and so on... I was more taking a postshot at the kind of track that sounds like a poor man's evanescence with added steam engine fx (well... evanescence ARE a poor man's evanescence, but you know what I mean...)
Incidentally, for a random take on popularising steampunk, check the video for Panic! At the Disco's latest single 'The Ballad of Mona Lisa'... for non-panic fans, its full of visual allusions to their 1st vid, 'I Write Sins Not Tragedies' so you might wanna check that first, but its an interesting example of the steampunk aesthetic being used by a non-steampunk band, altho given that their 1st album used vaudeville and victorian burlesque sounds as well as dance music and punk/emocore, and their second album featured a brass band, there's probably an argument in favour of calling them 'steamocore'
"If your enemy has an impregnable fortress, see that he stays there"
"We are half alone, our hearts are leaving home/Now we don't belong to anyone at all"
Another Anglo-Saxon Britain scenario
Hi Josh, welcome to the discussion. Of course I also like VP, and my musical tastes reach back to pre-punk progressive stuff. That you would find us discussing you in connection to our planned game mod in this obscure corner of the web is just flank-steak amazing.
But I would remind you all, gentlemen, that we're discussing the soundtrack to a game, which is, by necessity, instrumental tracks (is there an instrumental version of The Curse of Whitechapel anywhere? That would perfectly open this mod..) We have a lot of time to fill, however, so there's lots of room for anything we want to use - as long as we have proper and official permissions for everything we use, of course.
I hope to stick some of my own music in if I can ever get it recorded.
As for the 'gloomy music' discussion: have you noticed that, historically, the gloomier the economy is, the more upbeat the music seems to be? And of course the inverse is also true, generally. See? A half-dozen good examples just popped into your head. It's a very general rule, of course, and there are lots of exceptions, but, as a general rule, it's generally true, more or less...
Hi, welcome to the forums, VP! Glad to see someone else from the Brass Goggles SP forum around here...
BTW, I didn't mention this earlier, but I'm working on adapting your Tribute to Final Fantasy songs for the Final Fantasy mod....
Look forward to seeing more of you around here...
Again my apologies for not fully reading over the thread
We do actually have the entirety of Behold the Machine free to download in instrumental form here:
I'm at work at the moment, so i don't have time to elaborate further, but again please feel free to use any of those instrumental tracks you like!
Yeah, because the Pistols' 'God Save the Queen' was SO upbeat ...'no future/no future/no future for you!'... altho in general you have a point (ish)
and a soundtrack doesn't necessarily have to be entirely instrumental (see the soundtrack for Plotinus' The Rood and The Dragon scenario)
and yeah, it is amazingly cool to have someone actually making their mark on alt-rock on this forum, as opposed to just diehard no-hopers with a hard-drive full of instrumental compositions and a pop-hardcore band with one gig to their name (ie; me)
oh, and if anyone's interested, I was sitting here bored in a computer room in uni, so I went on Soundcloud (free online DAW) and made this... its just a 22-second experiment in trying to make something steampunky, and please bear in mind that as i don't have a paid account with them I was working from a very limited range of samples... if I were at home, even tho I'm just using freeware, I'd have 20-odd soft synths, a coupla soft drumsynths, an electric guitar with modulation pedal, an acoustic guitar, a (very out of tune) piano, a harmonica and above all else a halfway-useable software studio
Moderator Action: All the threads in the steampunk subforum are temporarily closed while we reorganize. Expect a reopening of a new, organized improved version soon.
The steampunk forum is reorganized & reopened.
Check the directory if you're not sure where to find things. Make any general posts (not related to a specific scenario) here.
I'd lean towards the instrumental tracks for a game but that's just personal preference.
For a Lost Worlds theme I think we should try and sequence tracks that fit in with the evolving gameplay e.g.
Theme 1 - Britannia: Imperial. Magisterial. Classical
Theme 2 - Atlantis and The Underworld: Mystical but quickly turning to Disturbing and Eerie.
Theme 3 - Pellucidar: Primitive. Primal. Jungle Drums
Theme 4 - The Ether and The Moon: Ethereal. Mystical again.
Theme 5 - Mars: Ethnic. Noble. Savage.
Here are some picks all by the same musician and all royalty free. I've tried to arrange them in the order of the themes outlined above but you might find one or two out of place.
Danse Macabre; Danse Macabre - Finale - period piece
Also Sprach Zarathustra - another period piece but maybe too associated with a certain movie
Funeral March for Brass - Victorian's loved funerals didn't they..
Consort for Brass - Stately, might even fit as Diplo Music for the Brits
Agnus Dei X; Schmetterling - for secret and evil societies
Tiny Fugue; Toccata and Fugue in D Minor - submarine music
Slow Ticking Clock
Pop Goes the Weasel
Quinn's Song: The Dance Begins
Constancy Part Two
Steel and Seething
Tenebrous Brothers Carnival - Snake Lady
hmmm... I agree... I suggest checking out some of the instrumental parts of Angels and Airwaves tracks... the right mood for the Ether?
I think Mars/Barsoom could do with a combi of tribal percussion and the odd (wagner-esque) orchestral stab
In terms of atlantis, there's a lot to be said for hooking up a guitar to a modulation pedal and letting rip, you can make the guitar sound like its being played underwater... check the last 30 seconds or so of Easy Target by Blink-182 for an example of this
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