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Most Expressive VGM

Brandon Strader

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The idea was never about how complex a piece of music is, or how much articulation it has :lol:

Yeah, and that's what I was confused about, and that's what other people could be confused about too. Expression isn't just the expressiveness of an instrument combination to sound like they're "alive", but that's certainly one definition of it, and that's why I was interpreting it partially in that way, and partially in the "development" way. ;)

Maybe it's just because I think of structure in terms of perceived energy (chorus, breakdown section, buildup, intro, outtro, etc.) rather than how rhythms, mood, and tempo are ways to determine movements.

But anyways, [/offtopic]

Edited by timaeus222
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That Batman Arkham City song was as interesting as some of The Dark Knight OST material. Why does almost everything that has the Batman name on it is awesome. Not talking about you mister Kilmer and Clooney...:tomatoface:

Anyway how about

from Dragon Quest VIII?
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Antipyretic from Final Fantasy Tactics. Could just partially be the emotional content of the scenes it was tied to, but that track is hands-down one of the most expressive pieces of music of the PS1 era.

(in my opinion)

I very much agree! I think FFT's soundtrack in general is absolutely incredible, and packed with emotions.

Also, to add a bit of variety to the thread, I think The Lost Vikings' soundtrack is very expressive in its own way ;)


http://youtu.be/qjUPGEQIIfQ (dat guitar solo)

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For me, one of the standout soundtracks back in the day was the one for Master of Monsters. While I'm sure some would still call it "background music" for various reasons, virtually the entire soundtrack has an orchestrated structure to it that makes it feel like more than some catchy diddy done to keep the game from being quiet. Whether it's the haunting and solemn "

," the opening march of "
" that was getting you ready for battle, or the sinister and impending
," the whole soundtrack felt like something made more for cinematic punctuation, rather than to be hummed as you played. All of the songs also run the gamut of moods, from upbeat and almost playful, to sad, to dark and brooding, to inspiring.

Hayato Matsuo did one hell of a job with his debut soundtrack.

Edited by The Coop
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Antipyretic from Final Fantasy Tactics. Could just partially be the emotional content of the scenes it was tied to, but that track is hands-down one of the most expressive pieces of music of the PS1 era.

(in my opinion)

Ovelia's motif is solid too in

, and I have a sweet spot for the more dramatic '

Albeit only used in the game's credits,

remains one of my favourite long-form compositions, and it does reflect the rest Final Fantasy XII's source material fairly well. The trailer featuring it pretty much sold me the game.

Hitoshi Sakimoto's soundtracks have a lot of breadth to them, and though it's difficult to find any one song that is individually emotive, the full soundtracks most certainly fit that category as a whole. The soundtrack to the recent

is a shining example of this; it was co-written by his studio, but it still retains his style quite strongly. Highly recommended, as it cycles through the gamut of emotions. The second track in particular, '
', is simply lush in composition. You just don't get composition like that often these days, folks.

Moving away from JRPGs: Age of Empires III has some beautiful tracks that perfectly engender the spirit of 'new world exploration' they were aiming for. '

' usually tops my list for this OST, followed by '
' and '
'. A superb soundtrack all 'round, and highly emotive.

Skyrim's soundtrack, like most of Soule's work, is pretty soft-spoken, so some tracks can blend together, but when they stick out, they can be very, very gripping. '

' is a personal favourite, though many of the town themes, such as '
', are also quite memorable, and personify the mood of a people entrenched against the elements and dangers of the wilds outside.

Fez! Oh my goodness, Fez. This soundtrack is steeped in nostalgia; not because of, but rather through its low-fi textures and tape reel pitch-bending. The dual motif of '

' and '
' are always ones I come back to: so very simple, but so perfectly represented. 'Memory' feels like a memory, something barely echoing out of the past, whereas 'Majesty' is the realization of that memory in its entirety. There's plenty more in the soundtrack: The mysterious awe of '
' mirroring the grounded grandeur of '
', the calm meandering of '
', the mysterious chill of '
'... there's just too much going on in this soundtrack, hah. Definitely one of my favourites for mood-setting.

Jamestown's '

' is gorgeously composed, and is a brilliant example of applying modifications to a motif to provide emotional impact.

Oh man, I gotta return to JRPGs for a bit (as I move alphabetically down my albums list)... Yoko Shimomura! How could you not add the main theme to '

' to this list? The game's
complements it quite well with a vocal rendition. Then the ending theme to the game's Dragoon Arc, '
', is built gorgeously off of the arc's primary motif, '
' (song names may vary). The arrangement of that arc's music in the Shimomura compilation album 'memória!' really emphasizes how solid the motif is. The entire soundtrack is one of Shimomura's best, and the songs only amplify the game's excellent emotional content.

Lastly, and rather oddly, the soundtrack to 'World of Goo' is surprisingly emotive, despite the often-silly backdrop it's associated with. It's got a whimsical, almost Elfman feel to it at times. '

' is a very simple track, but still manages to be fairly potent by its well-constructed presentation. '
' and '
' are both perfectly chilling tracks, playing off each other to create a rise and impending fall of emotion from the first to the second.

Alright, I'm done for now. I spend way too much time on these lists, sometimes...

Edited by Kenogu Labz
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I don't know if I said this already in the thread but the problem with a lot of RPG music, especially JRPG, is that they rely on looping a lot. So you can get some amazing pieces like

that are super expressive and impressive too, but.... are made to loop. I suppose looping isn't THAT BAD of a thing, but it changes the mood of a piece if it is intended to loop rather than featuring a distinct beginning and ending, with crescendos and structural dynamics and other goofy phrases. Still, having said that, I think Ebel City is particularly expressive and dynamic despite its looping nature. And quite frankly it's unfitting for the game, it sounds like it belongs in a big budget 90s-era film score, like Bicentennial Man or something.
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  • 4 weeks later...

Magic Pengel has some super moving songs like

that sound more like compositions for their own sake than soundtrack. And it's not that well known, to boot.

For passionate, building orchestral,

from Medal of Honor is a beautiful choice. And not like this is popular either, but
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Breath of Fire II

- definitely struck out as the most unique and well composed track for this game.

Just about anything Silent Hill. But Silent Hill 4

stuck me as most expressive. It's ironic that it happens to be of one of my least favourite instalments of the series - which makes me sad in many ways haha.


Just listen and you'll believe :nicework: - even if the choir sample is a bit dated sounding...

Parasite Eve

This one struck me as the most spectacular of the game - it conveys the feeling of dread, mystery and pain - all in one huge gelatinous goop.

Chrono Trigger

- probably already listed, but c'mon it's one of the best Snes themes ever.

Mass Effect 3

- possibly the only track to stand out (at least for me) from ME3 - I preferred ME2's ost more imo. Still this gives the spine tingles good.

Neverwinter Nights 2

Holy shiiit this is good - simple melodies but they convey a lot of power. Having E/W helps too lol. At least I'm assuming the sample library is E/W Symphonic etc.
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