I love soundtracks. As kids, we often asked for them for Christmases and birthdays. We liked the kind that are full orchestra music. Maybe that is odd for a pre-teen. For us it was normal.
As an adult, I still LOVE orchestra music. I sometimes listen to classical music but for the most part, I like to put on some “epic” music while I’m writing. Especially if I’m writing fantasy or if I’m having a hard time concentrating. My favorites are the “Epic Music” playlists on youtube or a few of my own making on Spotify. Two Steps from Hell and Audiomachine are the two top contenders. But there is a reason why they call it “cinematic” music. If you want inspiring orchestra music to write a good heart-pumping or awe-inspiring scene to, or just to play in the background for some added beauty to your day, nothing quite fulfills like game and movie soundtracks.
Here is a list of my top five soundtracks from science fiction and fantasy films. (Because face it, those are the best)
Let's see if I can keep it to Five.
5. Peter Pan
This album has some great, swelling scores. The story is beautifully captured. If you listen with your eyes closed, you can almost see the night sky rushing by as you head towards the second star on the right. Not only are there tones of adventure, there is a surprising emotional weight to this soundtrack. I love how it accents the journey of the main characters, Wendy and Peter. In fact, the whole story revolves around the intersection of these two: the care-free nature of childhood and the heavy, emotional weight of adulthood and the beauty that is hidden there
4. Treasure Planet
I love everything about this movie. Everything. In fact, I don’t hesitate to say it’s my all-time favorite animated movie. And that’s putting it up against things like Kubo and The Last Unicorn which are beautifully made films.
This movie is an emotionally heavy movie. The science fiction setting and plot play second fiddle to the unique and heartfelt relationship between Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins. There are parts of this soundtrack that make me want to cry just in music alone, like in “Silver Comforts Jim”. And then there are moments where the music swells and you feel this rush of awe envelop you like in “the Launch”. It really is an emotionally powerful soundtrack.
A soundtrack that entirely surprised me when it popped up on my Pandora Playlist one day was the Inception Soundtrack. And it shouldn’t have. The soundtrack is by Hans Zimmer, who is well known for his beautiful movie soundtracks. And the film is by Christopher Nolan, who, I’ll let you know, is my dream pick for a director for Malfunction (should they day ever come, you know. Just in case) The depth and intricacy of this movie are well reflected in the music as is the fast pace. Those of you who have watched the movie and enjoyed it know how the story itself strikes awe into its audience, and how the adventure gets your blood pumping. I would say the same of the soundtrack. Moments of mediation and awe counterbalance with great action pieces. And you can really feel the sense of wonder run through it all.
2. Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates is an experience unique to modern movies. I don’t much like any of the following movies in the series, but this one is masterful. It’s not often that a movie has such perfect plotting, great humor, emotional impact and a great soundtrack included. Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack is one of those that you’ve heard so many time that it’s pretty much become background noise. But when you stop to really listen, it’s incredible. I often find myself pausing to listen to the easily recognizable tune of “He’s a Pirate”. If there is one overarching theme to this soundtrack it’s “fun.” It seems appropriate since Pirates of the Caribbean has been my favorite Disney ride since I can remember and the movie so artfully captured viewers. One thing that I’m always up for is fun.
Kubo and the Two Strings
Harry Potter Series
1.The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Soundtracks
Well, this isn’t much of a surprise, is it? I mean, who here is shocked? Raise their hands. No.
I guess I’m predictable.
Lord of the Rings is just on a whole different level for me. With Music, Story, Cinematography, everything. And music is no exception. I grew up with these soundtracks. My entire family did. We got them for birthdays and Christmases and traded them back and forth so we could get the full collection. We listened to them on road trips, put them on during meals, while reading, while writing. I used to listen to this soundtrack while I slept so I could live in the music in my dreams.
Do it, it’s amazing. Just saying.
The music beyond beautiful, with a full orchestra, incredible vocals, and gorgeous finally in each. More than that, it tells a story. Each character and localities are given their own themes. As you listen to the music you can hear how Howard Shore has woven the story into the music. From the Fellowship theme, which reaches its climax when the fellowship crests the first hills of the Misty Mountains only to disappear with the death of Boromir to the “Hobbiton” theme that follows Sam and Frodo into Moria and back, the music is every bit a part of the experience as the script and camera work. I don’t think there is any other sound that so powerfully embodies both my past and my future. Every bit of my love for storytelling is connected to these notes. And listening to it will always bring with it all those memories and feelings. After All, that’s what music is supposed to do: Make you feel.
What about you? What soundtracks do you love the most and why? Do you lean towards musicals? Orchestra? Disney tunes? Leave a comment below and let me know.