Top 10: Epic Music
I like Top 10 Lists….so I’m going to make that a thing :D. Welcome to Top 10!
My favourite type of music to listen to is movie scores. I’ve been listening to them since I was around 14 and they now dominate 90% of my music collection. I thought I would list my Top 10 favourite music pieces, but then I realized just how tough that would be given the size of my collection.
So I’ve decided to go with categories. And what better way to start a Top 10 list than with my Top 10 EPIC MUSIC PIECES! The type of music that makes you want to run into battle, or have a showdown, or have an adventure! So here goes!
10. Star Wars Episode 1: Duel of the Fates (composed by John Williams)
Yes, this one seems pretty obvious, but there is no denying the awesomeness of this song. There are a LOT of things wrong with Episode 1, but the one thing it does get right is Darth Maul. He barely has any lines, but there is no denying his menace and the final lightsaber fight is well worth the torturous two hour pod race…okay, well, almost. Even George Lucas himself regrets killing him off, having not anticipated his popularity.
Such an awesome villain and action sequence deserves an awesome theme song as well, and John Williams delivers. For the most part, I find the rest of the soundtrack pretty similar and forgettable, but the moment I heard this I was determined to go out and buy the soundtrack. And I did :D. It’s been used in countless spoofs and parodies and with good reason. I will listen to this song over and over again when writing tense action scenes.
9. Forth Eorlingas- The Two Towers (composed by Howard Shore)
Of course I can’t have an Epic Music list without including something of Lord of the Rings in there. The big question is which song do I pick out of the multitudes of epic sounding tracks? The Riders of Rohann? Minas Tirith? The Bridge of Khazad Dum?
Well, I actually ended up going with something that not everyone would agree with. Forth Eorlingas occurs just before the end of the Two Towers, when all hope seems lost and the soldiers at Helm’s Deep. There’s a lot I love about this piece. You hear the Rohann theme in there as well as the Fellowship theme. But what made me choose this song is the moment when the music swells as Gandalf appears on a distant hilltop and rides in to the rescue. Even without the visuals to aid you, you can picture some truly magical, amazing things happening. It truly feels like good triumphing over evil with a hint of other worldly help that is somewhat beyond our understanding, and I love using it as inspiration.
8. He’s a Pirate- Pirate’s of the Carribean (composed by Klaus Bedalt)
As I was going through my list of music I saw this and suddenly realized it would have to be put SOMEWHERE in the list. When I heard there was going to be a Pirate’s of the Carribbean movie, I laughed. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did given it was based on a Disney ride. But MAN, was it fun and what made it even more fun was fantastic swashbuckling adventure music that was present throughout. It gets you right in the mood to have a grand adventure, not just a grand adventure, a fun grand adventure. Every time I listen to it, I get the urge to take up fencing or pose with a charismatic smirk on my face. It’s the perfect music to get me excited for the day.
7. Summon the Worms & Revolution- Children of Dune (composed by Brian Tyler)
I put two here because they share the same basic melody. Children of Dune was another surprise movie for me. I had seen Dune (not the 1970’s one…the 2000 mini-series) and had been…well, not unimpressed but definitely didn’t think it was the truly greatest thing ever. Then I watched Children of Dune. Dune was good, don’t get me wrong, but Children of Dune just seemed to have so much more emotional weight to it. I realized watching this, and Susan Sarandon confirmed later in an interview I watched, that it was almost like Shakespeare in space. There was a deep sorrow felt throughout what essentially was the story of a history and way of life that was slowly being lost to the machinations of outside forces.
Nowhere is that more felt than in the music. I. Love. This soundtrack. Obviously, otherwise it wouldn’t be in the list. There are slower more intimate moving pieces, but then there are pieces like Revolution and Summon the Worms which are far grander. Both (I believe) follow Leto, the main character, as he learns to harness the power of the desert and the sand worms. It’s an epic moment in the movie and the music represents this wonderfully.
6. Mindheist- Inception trailer (composed by Zack Hemsey)
I was going through my Inception soundtrack, wondering which track to choose when it dawned on me that as much as I love Hans Zimmer, the true gem of the Inception soundtrack is Mind Heist, which isn’t even in the movie. It’s in the trailer. And it’s composed by a guy named Zack Hemsey, who specializes in writing movie trailer music.
Everybody uses and mimics this song and with good reason. It can make any mundane task look like the most tense, epic adventure imaginable (I myself was tempted to try and make a fake movie trailer for the TTC (the subway in Toronto). For me, it makes walking to work a lot more intense (can I cross this light in time?! CAN I?!”). It’s so popular in fact that it makes the rest of the soundtrack (which is fantastic) look forgettable. So it obviously gets the spot on this list :D.
5. Main Theme- Myst 3 Exile (composed by Jack Wall)
Myst 3 was a departure from the previous Myst games in a lot of ways. One of those ways was the music, which in the past had been mostly subtle synthesized tracks. Now it was being replaced by a full orchestral score composed by Jack Wall, who would go on to do the rest of the Myst games as well.
I promised myself only one Myst song was allowed, and so I chose the main theme from Myst 3, partly because when I first heard it I got very excited. Compared to past Myst soundtracks, which I still love, this gave a far more epic feel and you really get a sense of the history and hurt that is at the heart of the “main character” Saveedro (played by Brad “I’m a crazy man” Douriff). It more than got me in the mood for some puzzle solving and continues to be on my playlist today whenever I need some good villain inspiration.
4. A Dark Knight- The Dark Knight (composed by Hans Zimmer)
Okay, SOMETHING of Hans Zimmer has to go in this list. He is the king of epic music. But I also promised myself that I would try to limit the composers to one song per composer. And so I chose this one. The Dark Knight is a great movie and right at the end Gary Oldman gives a speech about the hero that Gotham needs. Accompanying that speech is this music. It’s sixteen minutes long and I never get sick of it. It’s dark and brooding, while also hopeful and inspirational AND gives a sense of the responsibility and burden Bruce Wayne must hold. That’s a tough balance to pull off but Hans Zimmer does it perfectly and even when that sixteen minutes ends I’m ready for more.
3. Finale- Game of Thrones Season 1 (composed by Ramin Djawadi)
Wow, this song…okay, I’m not going to spoil any of Game of Thrones, don’t worry. But I am going to talk about the music. Game of Thrones throughout it’s first season was very much rooted in reality (as much as a fantasy can be anyway). The finale was, pun not intended, a game changer. It was the “Aw hell YEAH” moment, and it needed music to help support that. The quiet beginning as the moment sinks in, followed by the swell of music as all of the possibilities and triumph open up can’t help but stir up the same emotions in me. It’s the type of music that makes you think magic is possible, and was the music that made me immediately go to purchase the soundtrack. Money well spent :D.
2. I’m the Doctor- Doctor Who Series 5 (composed by Murray Gold)
When David Tennant left Doctor Who, people were devastated. No one could replace him in their opinion. That put a lot of pressure on Matt Smith, who was taking over the role. The introduction of the new Doctor, and the new era of Doctor Who really, was important. Matt Smith was a very different Doctor and that had to come across. Nowhere is that more present than the Doctor’s new theme.
I love the previous Doctor themes as well, but this one was a really refreshing change and a great introduction to Matt Smith’s doctor. Matt Smith’s performance was great, but as soon as that music started up I knew that I had completely accepted him in the role. It makes you excited to have all sorts of adventures and completely shirks the brooding, haunted themes of the past. It makes believe that the Doctor can do anything, that he is the hero and it’s the perfect song to play when I have writer’s block.
1. Atlantis of the Sands- Uncharted: Drake’s Deception (composed by Greg Edmonson)
Why is this number 1? Well, I am a sucker for a good old fashioned impossible archaeological adventure, and the Uncharted games have that in spades. Most people would choose Nathan’s theme, but I picked this one. I forget even which part of the game this is from, but listening to it makes me feel like I’m running through a middle eastern market with evil henchmen on my tail. In my opinion, there is no better mood for adventure than the Uncharted soundtrack and this perfectly sets the mood for the desert adventure you’re about to have. It’s fun, it’s thrilling, it’s exotic, it’s exactly what I need when I need to imagine having a far away adventure with a dashing hero…ahem…AS a dashing hero…well…the sidekick to a dashing hero. I’m totally a sidekick :D.