Symphony of Horror: Music by Akira Yamaoka (Topic)

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Symphony of Horror: Music by Akira Yamaoka


Silent Hill is the series that made horror as we know it. Everything, from gameplay to characters, written lore and atmosphere, breathes with horror and originality. This all helped her acquire the status of a cult, and in many respects also thanks to the music, which created the very atmosphere of a foggy city here. It is the music, together with the plot, symbols and characters, which plays the role of the fourth narrative force.

Its author is Akira Yamaoka and how he writes it and what role Silent Hill music plays for the series we'll talk about.

Before the fog descended

Before becoming a maestro of horror music, Akira planned to become a designer and studied at the Tokyo College of Art. Having bought himself a computer for training, he found there installed music software. Since he loved music all his life and played the seven-string guitar, he was carried away by its creation,

He has no relevant knowledge of music theory or musical literacy. Also, his attempts to play in groups ended in nothing. However, Akira created the tracks himself and submitted them to various competitions.

And so in 1993 he got to Konami, where he wrote the soundtrack for Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2. The game did not find much success, but spurred the composer to create something great. And so, when the studio began to create Silent Hill in 1998, Akira volunteered to write music for the game, claiming that no one else could do it. And damn it, he did it.

The day I arrived in Silent Hill

His soundtrack for the first game organically merged with the atmosphere, amplifying it. He used subgenres of industrial music such as Noise and Dark Ambient. The 40-song sound made a small revolution in music in games. As Yamaoka himself recalled, working on the first Silent Hill music made him understand how difficult it is to be original. It was inspired by Angelo Badalamenti, creator of the Twin Peaks soundtrack.

Akira was very careful about the little things. Each track blends harmoniously with the character, location, situation and scarecrow. Before starting work, the author used to isolate himself from the media and people in order to find the right mood.

Music did not cause comfort and at the same time could bring comfort. So, for example, to create a game, he used the sound of a dentist's drill in his compositions. This can be seen in tracks such as "Until Death" and "Over" - you can hear this frightening and unpleasant sound in them.

However, precisely because each composition is tied to a specific situation, it was difficult to listen to them separately. However, they have become an integral part of the series.

Laura's Theme

Akira has always been meticulous. For example, for the second part of the game, he recorded about 200 sounds of different steps. It was after the second part of the game that his music began to be characterized as exclusively author's. The composer himself calls the second part his favorite, and he wrote the main theme "Theme of Laura" in three days.

In the second Silent Hill, you can see his technique of the fact that each character has its own musical theme or several compositions at once, which strengthened the narrative of an already emotional state.

This technique was another way to reveal the character. For example, every time we meet the girl Laura, we hear melodic and calm key sounds. They give a kind of peace, and all because Laura, due to the fact that she is 8 and has no "sinfulness" in her soul, she does not see all the demons of the city that adults see.

After that, tracks in games became more audible out of context, and reflected people and their destinies. And since all the characters in the game are broken people with a tragic history, all the music has a melancholy motive. But also terrible when, for example, the Pyramid Head appears ...

Image of Fear and Despair

In order to create a feeling of not comfort, the maestro affects the player's psyche with grinding, knocking and blows that occur somewhere far away, behind a wall or a closed door. The player does not see their source, but he senses it.

This is especially felt in the third part, where Akira created absolutely all the sounds in the game. Everything that sounds in it happens at his behest. At the same time, Elizabeth McGllin joined his team, with whom he recorded such tracks as "You're not Here", "I wan't love". From this point onwards, Akira gave more importance to the themes of the characters. The music reflects their words, like Sickness Unto Foolish Death does when meeting Vincent.

The music in the last two games of the classic series emphasizes the emotional state of the characters well. So, in daring Heather, we often hear motives of fatigue and misunderstanding of what is happening, and in Henry Townsed from the fourth part - melancholy and despair.

We looked at the 4 classic parts of the game as a single whole studio Konami and Akira as a composer, but note that he wrote the tracks for the continuation of the series.

Silent Hill music is not just melodies. Akira Yamako gave the great game series a great soundtrack. He revolutionized the way music should be presented in games. And maybe now such a phrase as "the musical theme of the hero" is a frequent occurrence today, but this is precisely because of him.

In addition, with this material WorldOfTopics announces a month dedicated not only to Silent Hill but also to horror games in general.

The Topic of Article: Symphony of Horror: Music by Akira Yamaoka.
Author: Jake Pinkman