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Thursday, October 3, 2013

More Musical Inspiration for My 13th Age Dragon Empire

I have previously written about some musical inspiration for my 13th Age Campaign (see here).

Since I last wrote, a few more music tracks have made it into my essentials list, so I thought I would record them here.  I hope others may find these pieces as interesting and enjoyable as I do.

Artist Clannad
Album PastPresent
Title(s) Newgrange, Coinleach Ghlas an Fhomhair
Clannad is a quintessential band in the Celtic Folk revival that went beyond the reinvigoration of the old tradition (so capably done by other bands like the Chieftains) and on into creation of new forms of popular Celtic style music.  Some of their experiments showcased what could be best and worst about the so called "New Age" music, but mostly they just made really interesting and beautiful songs that laid the foundation for artists such as Enya (who is from the same family as the members of Clannad) and Loreena McKennit.  Clannad created some groundbreaking fantasy music for the 1980s series Robin of Sherwood, which is still, for my money, the best TV series ever done around the Robin Hood myth.  These two pieces, Newgrange and Coinleach Ghlas an Fhómhair are two beautiful songs that definitely speak to sounds one might find in my Dragon Empire, possibly in Concord, or the Wild Wood.

Artist Jack Wall
Album Mass Effect 2
Title Suicide Mission 
Usually, I keep my science fiction (Star Trek, Babylon 5, etc.) music and my epic fantasy music (Lord of the Rings, Willow, Conan, etc.) in different boxes.  Star Wars does some crossover.  Jack Wall's "Suicide Mission" from the Mass Effect 2 soundtrack also can end up in either list as far as I'm concerned.  Its soring instrumentation and urgent vocals sets a heroic and resolved tone that could be the prelude to any hopeless battle or potentially fatal act of courage.  Good stuff.

Artist Inon Zur
Album Lord of the Rings War in the North
Title Nordinbad
Inon Zur has established himself as a major player in electronic fantasy gaming music.  This track evokes the feeling of a lonely frontier fortress, ever watchful, standing guard against the forces of darkness.  The kind of place I need to send my gamers' player characters to check out.

Artist Jamie Christopherson
Album The Lord of the Rings: Battle For Middle Earth II
Title(s) Joining Forces, Elven Morning Light, Elven Nightfall
I have already extolled the great virtues of Mr. Christopherson's Middle Earth music.  Let me just add, it is so good that I had to add these three additional pieces into my regular mix because they so consistently evoke the wonder of a fantasy realm.

Artist(s) Bill Brown, Jamie Christopherson
Album The Lord of the Rings: Battle For Middle Earth
Title Heroes Shall Rise
In my original list, I had not included a track from the first "Battle for Middle Earth" album, composed not only by Jamie Christopherson, but also by Bill Brown.  This track does exactly what it says on the package.  Heroes rise to the challenge on the majesty of this music.

Artist Two Steps From Hell 
Album Legends
Title(s) Infinite Legends, Goddysey
You will hear Two Steps From Hell (a music company that specializes in Movie Trailer music, heard in trailers for movies, computer games, and TV and in commercials) everywhere.  This is not a bad thing, because their music is reliably excellent.  Both of these pieces evoke the huge sweep of an amazing and fantastic world.  Infinite Legends unfolds for me over the sprawl of a vast and fabulous city.  Goddysey takes me across the vast oceans of an imagined world.  Very good music.

Artist Jack Wall
Album Jade Empire
Title Into the Fray
Here's Jack Wall again.  Before he helped define the amazingly successful Mass Effect universe, he scored an earlier BioWare game called Jade Empire.  Jade Empire . . . Dragon Empire, you can see how things might fit together.  This piece is pretty much just the kind of thing I want to play during a martial arts smack down.  Great east Asian percussion worthy of Jet Li or Michelle Yeoh.

Artist Two Steps From Hell 
Album Dynasty
Title Elementum
Here's Two Steps again, because they are awesome.  Another track from the Dynasty album.  I visualize some serious spell slinging to this track with its driving beat and soaring chorus.

Artist Inon Zur
Album Dragon Age: Origins
Title I am the One
The signature track from Zur's first foray into the Dragon Age franchise.  I already highlighted the album for another track in my last music post, but this one also found a place in my heart.  A song of destiny, and we always have those characters in our games it seems, especially in the 13th Age of the Dragon Empire.

Artist Oscar Araujo
Album Castlevania Lords of Shadow
Title The Warg
Araujo's Castlevania is a triumph of an album with dark and powerful musical set pieces, but I had a hard time choosing the right track from it.  I settled on The Warg.  This is a dynamic musical piece with great choral parts (of course).  It might narrate a battle, or a frenzied ceremony, or even a cat and mouse chase (with explosions maybe).  Whatever images are inspired by this piece, it is a little piece of dark majesty.

Artist Nox Arcana
Album Blood of the Dragon
Title The Mystic's Keep
Nox Arcana can be hit and miss, but they produce a lot of very moody and interesting theme albums.  This one is tailored for a fantasy campaign.  The Mystic’s Keep is perhaps not the best track off the album, but it has such great atmosphere, with a recurring chant, I just can’t resist it.  Visions of a horrible death cult for my players to face? Check!  Mission accomplished.

Artist Two Steps From Hell 
Album Archangel
Title Norwegian Pirate
Here's Two Steps one more time.  What is the meaning of this song title?  I don’t know.  What it has to do with pirates or Norwegians is not entirely clear, but it is a rousing tune that could take one from the heaving deck of a dragon longship to a vast fantasy battlefields.

Artist Taro Iwashiro
Album Red Cliff
Title Battle to Battle
Red Cliff is a terrific movie (see the extended two part Asian release).  Lots of heroic combat and beautiful cinematography.  Also, the music is a highlight, and this piece is just what I look for to visualize the clash of great armies.

Artist Atli Örvarsson
Album The Eagle
Title Return of the Eagle
The movie "The Eagle," based on one of my favorite books as a kid, "The Eagle of the Ninth," was a big bust at the box office, and one of several quite bad sword and sandals movies in the last half decade.  However, both "The Eagle" and "Centurian" had good music.  I featured a piece from Centurian in my last discussion, but I am glad to include this piece by Örvarsson here.  It is a dynamic, Celtic fiddle inspired piece that conveys a sense of motion, an urgent chase or desperate escape.  A very fun piece of music.  Atli Örvarsson is someone I hope keeps making great music.


So, I hope this helps someone out there find great music and great inspiration to continue life in the Dragon Empire.

Stay Legendary.