Apropos of nothing, I was looking for the theme from Doctor Who in my iTunes library, so typed “theme” into the search box.
I have had an iPod and iTunes for quite a while now, having picked one up once they made iTunes available for Windows. That was something like 9 years ago. I have collected quite a bit of music since then. (But I have only needed two iPods, my original 3rd generation iPod and a 3rd generation Nano that replaced it.)
Just the search term “theme” brought up 73 results. And iTunes can sort them by how many times I have listened to them. So my top ten themes are:
All told I have 5601 tracks in iTunes, for a total of 13.4 days of play time, end to end. And that does not include podcasts (919 items, 34 days) or audio books (610 items, 167 days).
The most played track is actually a tie between The Son of Flynn from the TRON: Legacy sound tack and Below the Asteroids from the EVE Online sound track. The most played theme that doesn’t actually have the word “theme” in it is Greeback Boogie, which is the theme from Suits.
And in all of that, I actually have the Doctor Who theme not once, but twice. But I apparently only listen to one of them.
Or how the soundtrack for TRON Legacy became irrevocably associated with Need For Speed: World in my brain.
I like the movie TRON Legacy.
I felt Legacy delivered about the same level of cool visual imagery, excitement, and goofy pseudo-technical nonsense as the original movie did back in 1982. While no instant classic, it was fun to watch for many reasons.
One of the main breaks with the old movie was the sound track. Daft Punk‘s musical accompaniment was so good, and so integral to the movie that my mind barely registered that is was, or could even exist as, a separate thing.
Until I saw it on iTunes for seven dollars, which was a price point I could not resist.
Jeff Bridges says about 20 words on the second track of album, but otherwise it is nothing but the music of Daft Punk. For seven dollars it was a deal. It has been a long time since the default price for an album was that low.
And, as timing would have it, I got the album just before I decided to download and Need for Speed: World.
I got into the game, started the album up in iTunes, and started playing.
And it was amazing.
It was like the magical sound track. Whatever came on seemed to fit in with whatever I was doing at that moment. If I was in a police chase or in a race or smashing through downtown or just sweeping through the hills, the music seemed just right. It was more like the soundtrack for the game than the movie.
And now, of course, the game and the soundtrack are linked in my brain. I cannot play one without thinking of the other.
Which isn’t a bad thing.
Have you ever had a strong musical association like that?
It was the first Saturday night of the newly Free-(ish)-to-Play Lord of the Rings Online and it wasn’t so bad.
At least not on Firefoot, our server of choice, and something of a low population server to start with.
Sure, there was some lag in and around Bree. Some of those with short memories were crying on OOC that there has never been lag in Bree before, but I could tell them different. Oh, there used to be plenty of lag in Bree on a Saturday night back in 2007.
And there was that annoying “find the zone line” behavior where you suddenly stop and cannot move while resources load. You can spot other people hitting the line by their running-in-place behavior.
Still, it did seem prudent to get out of Bree proper when we could.
When I arrived Garfinkle and Enaldie were already in game. They said that Earl wouldn’t be able to make it, but they were outside the Bree gate playing around the the LOTRO music system. It was going to be an evening of music and skirmishes for our short group:
When Garfinkle said they were playing with the LOTRO music system, I thought he meant the original music interface that allowed you to play an instrument through your keyboard.
But when I got out to them, they were playing a very good version of House of the Rising Sun using the ABC music interface.
The ABC interface allows you to load up a midi-like file and play it through your instrument in-game.
I vaguely remember this being introduced into the game, but I never really looked into it. But watching them play, I had to join in. I was sent off to The Fat Lute, a site devoted to the ABC music system in LOTRO, where there are thousands of songs that have been transcribed into the ABC file format. Go take a look.
While I was checking out the site, Garfinkel played the threatened promised Scotland the Brave on his bagpipes.
There is a surprising amount of traditional bagpipe music on The Fat Lute. The only downfall is that you cannot march while you play the pipes.
I figured out a bit of what was going on with the music, but needed to run back into Bree to purchase an instrument. We decided to hit the skirmish system first before braving the lag-prone capital of Breeland.
We headed over to the skirmish camp, which was right across the road, and found out that we could not do the tutorial as a fellowship. You cannot even be in a fellowship. You have to go alone.
Well, not alone. The first thing they teach you about in the skirmish tutorial is how to summon a companion, a soldier who will fight for you and who looks a lot like Anderson Cooper.
Anderson Cooper was the third theme of the night, after music and skirmishes. He is all over Middle-earth it seems. He’s in the Prancing Pony. He’s running the skirmish camp. He’s your soldier in a skirmish. And I think he’s even hanging out in the Forsaken Inn.
So we broke our fellowship and went into the tutorial on our own.
As usual, the guiding NPC, who looks like Anderson Cooper wearing a fake beard, had some ailment that kept him out of the battle.
But the Anderson Cooper clone was eager to go. The second thing they teach you is that if Anderson Cooper dies, you can just call out another one. There certainly seem to be enough about. I wonder what CNN thinks about this.
We made it through the two tutorials mostly unscathed.
Garfinkel was defeated a couple of times… but he’s with the band.
We then got ourselves back in a fellowship and took on the skirmish at Amon Sul… also known as Weathertop, where Candaith was hold up.
Things started out okay, with us and the Anderson Cooper triplets running around while Candaith did most of the work with his bow. Tough talker that Candaith.
However, once we got to the final wave, things fell apart badly. We were defeated soundly, as we were on our last visit to Weathertop. It is not a good location for us so far.
We thought we might try it again in easy mode, maybe set the skirmish to “solo” and go in, but the interface doesn’t let you skimp like that. If you have three people, you have to choose a small fellowship.
The interface did not bode well for future skirmishes though. The choice for group size is solo, duo, small fellowship (trio), fellowship (six), and raid (more than I’ll ever see). However, as a group of four, it seems like small fellowship will be out and we’ll have to face the six player level of content.
We’ve done that before. It doesn’t work.
With that bit of down news, we decided to go back to music.
We set up just outside of the skirmish camp and started to go through the song list over at The Fat Lute.
We found a few decent multi-part pieces. We would each take a part and equip the appropriate instrument. In a fellowship you can append the word “sync” to your play command, then you can all start off together and play the different parts like… well… a real band.
So we got out there in the best Nairobi Trio spirit and played.
We were alternately impressed and laughing out loud.
The three part version of Rhiannon was really good.
The music from the Star Wars cantina band was both good and hilarious.
And some pieces were just over the top, trying to do to much, losing the song in the flood of music bad. But even those were fun and worth a laugh.
When Garfinkel gets to a high enough level, he is going to have to teach Roderigo the Theorbo skill. That is a Middle-earth bass and it has an amazingly good sound. In fact, all of the instruments sound very good.
Our spirits thus revived, we decided to try out another skirmish. This time it was the defense of Gondomon.
We did much better. Nobody was defeated. Well, Anderson Cooper went down left and right, but you can always re-summon him. After our victory, we started to check out the vendors who sell things for skirmish marks. I was glad to see that they sell different looks for your soldier. It got a bit confusing with the same guy running around thrice.
After that, we played around with music some more. The whole LOTRO music system is pretty amazing.
It is, in fact, one of the real differentiators for the game. I do not know of another MMO that has anything similar.
LOTRO, it has something special.
Now the question for next week… if Earl is back, do we continue in the Lone Lands, work on skirmishes, or try some of the four part music pieces?