MOOD PIECES : Music and Location in Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption

In an earlier post, this site discussed the soundtrack for Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption (2010). Led by composers Bill Elm and Woody Jackson, the official soundtrack would win Best Song in a Game at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards for “Far Away” by José González. The earlier post also examined how this ground-breaking Western game presents an organic musical score that adapts to choices made by the player thru the use of musical “stems” that can be combined as the action develops. For those interested, that earlier post is located at this link: red-dead-redemption-soundtracks-in-a-new-medium

This site returns to a discussion of the music of Red Dead Redemption to consider the connection between music and location in the game. Just as the game developers created certain musical sounds connected to specific actions, there are musical scores that are associated with specific regions through which the character of John Marston travels. This has the effect of creating an “aural memory” for players as they enter or return to a given location. If experience leads a player to be aware of certain threats that abide in a region, the location-centered music functions as a form of warning – a warning that can be haunting, melancholic and moody. Beyond any action-centered focus, the music creates another level of immersion for the player as he or she moves in solitary fashion across a Western landscape.

There has been great support for what has been deemed the “unreleased” Red Dead Redemption soundtrack and that unofficial soundtrack includes the segments of music associated with given locations. Some fans of the game have taken the time to record and share some of the location-specific musical pieces. This “officially unreleased” clip is a good example of the at-times haunting nature of the game’s musical score – it features the music that plays when Marston rides in the region of the town of Blackwater and neighboring Great Plains. The clip is entitled “Blackwater (Day Ambiance)”:

(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)

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One thought on “MOOD PIECES : Music and Location in Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption

  1. Now that I haven’t played RDR for about a year, it’s true that I recall the music as much as the scenes. I think the only other game that does that (for me) is Halo.

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