The Music of Grand Theft Auto V

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For the in-game soundtrack, see Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack.
The Music of Grand Theft Auto V
Soundtrack album by Grand Theft Auto
Released 24 September 2013[1]
Genre Soundtrack, alternative rock, ambient music, jazz fusion, hip hop, R&B, krautrock
Length 216:13 (full soundtrack)
63:17 (Volume 1)
78:40 (Volume 2)
74:16 (Volume 3)
Label Rockstar Games
Grand Theft Auto chronology
The Music of Grand Theft Auto IV
(2008)
The Music of Grand Theft Auto V
(2013)

The Music of Grand Theft Auto V is the soundtrack to the video game Grand Theft Auto V. The soundtrack was released on 24 September 2013 in three volumes, including an original score composed for the game in addition to selections from songs that were licensed for the in-game radio. The game is the first in its series to include an original score; the work was shared between a team of producers who collaborated with each-other during the game's development. Critical reception to the soundtrack was positive, as reviewers considered that the music had been appropriated effectively for gameplay.

Background and recording[edit]

Grand Theft Auto V is the first entry in its series to make use of an original score.[2] Music supervisor Ivan Pavlovich noted that creating original score for the game was "daunting" given that it would be a first for the series.[3] Like previous entries in the series, the game also contains licensed music tracks provided by an in-game radio. Pavlovich noted that the team did not want the original music to detract from the use of licensed music as well, but rather to accompany it.[4] He further considered that the team had to balance the "ambient subtext and tension" of the score with onscreen action in the game.[5] To work on the score, Rockstar brought The Alchemist, Oh No and Tangerine Dream on board with Woody Jackson, who had collaborated with the team on three previous projects, Red Dead Redemption (2010), L.A. Noire (2011) and Max Payne 3 (2012).[6] In collaboration with each other, the team of producers composed twenty hours of music which scores the game's missions.[7] In addition, music plays dynamically throughout the game in both the single-player and multiplayer modes.[8]

Early in the game's development, the music team were shown an early build of the game before conducting production on the score. Their work on the score was mostly complete later in the game's development, but they continued composing up until the final build of the game had to be submitted for manufacturing. Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream's founding member, was initially uninterested in being involved in music production on the game. After being flown into the studio and shown the game, he had a change of heart, impressed by the game's scale and cinematic nature. Froese's initial eight months of work on the score produced 62 hours of music.[3] He recorded with Tangerine Dream in Austria, but further work was mainly conducted at Jackson's studio in the United States, which The Alchemist and Oh No accessed.[4]

"Welcome to Los Santos", the game's main theme, was composed by Oh No. He collaborated with several other musicians to produce original music for the game.

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Jackson, who upon learning that the composers would be building off each-other's work, expressed concern that the finished product could end up disjointed. His initial work on the game was to provide score for Trevor's missions, citing The Mars Volta and Queens of the Stone Age as stylistic influences during this process. After sending his efforts around to the other members of the team, Jackson was impressed by Froese's contributions to his work. "Edgar evolved the music, made it into a whole other thing", he noted.[3] Froese had taken Jackson's hip hop-influenced work and interpolated it with a funky sound. Pavlovich considered "how to make the hip-hop and rock score not sound like they were instrumentals of songs on the radio, but rather something unique to the score" a challenge.[5] Froese and Jackson also sent their efforts between The Alchemist and Oh No, who heavily sampled their work. "We were sampling, taking a piece form here, a piece from there..... We pitched stuff up, chopped it, tweaked it. Then we chose the tracks that worked and everyone came in and layered on that", recalled The Alchemist. DJ Shadow then mixed the team's creations together and appropriated it for the gameplay.[3]

Pavlovich noted that at times Rockstar would give the team missions to specifically provide score for, but that some of the team's music composed for no specific purpose would influence some other missions and provide jumping-off points for further score development. He noted what he described as a "stem-based" system to make the music fit dynamic factors in the game; after a piece of music was assigned to a particular mission, the team would compose music to underscore outcomes the player could make after completing it.[3] Each of these "stems", Froese reflected, included up to 62 five-minute WAV files, which were sent to Pavlovich in New York. "He then created, very professionally, a mix down for each of the eight stems needed for a mission and sent out the material to the other artists involved", he elaborated. Oh No drew upon scenes from within the game to help in his composition efforts, allowing his work to feel contextually pertinent with the action onscreen; for example, the iconographic introduction of the fictional city of Los Santos early in the game inspired him "to create a smooth West Coast vibe that embodied Los Santos". Supplying horns, electric and bass guitars, and percussion parts to the score, Oh No considered, fit with car chase scenes during the game. "We wanted everything to set the right tone", he explained.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

In the context of the game, The Music of Grand Theft Auto V was well received. Jim Sterling of Destructoid considered the game's sound design "impeccable", directing praise at the score.[9] Keza MacDonald of IGN felt that the licensed music had been selected well, and that the original score "builds tension" on missions.[10] Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb agreed that the score helped enhance dramatic tension during missions,[11] and Carolyn Petit of GameSpot wrote that the score "lends missions more cinematic flavour".[12] The staff at Edge wrote that the licensed music "enrich[es] Los Santos' already remarkable sense of space" and considered that the original score enhanced the atmosphere of the gameplay, summarising Grand Theft Auto V as "a compendium of everything Rockstar has learnt about the power of game music in the past decade".[13] Alex Young of Consequence of Sound considered the score "dynamic to say the least", praising the music for its appropriation within the gameplay. He concluded that the team have "craft[ed] an entertaining blend of musical tastes that everyone can get on board with".[14]

Track listing[edit]

† All songs written and composed by Tangerine Dream, Woody Jackson, The Alchemist and Oh No. All songs layered, mixed and arranged by DJ Shadow from the original interactive in-game score.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Sources that refer to the contents and general information of the soundtrack include:
  2. ^ Robinson, Andy (12 November 2012). "GTA V will introduce a musical score for missions". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Corriea, Alexa Ray (3 October 2013). "The accidental excellence of GTA 5's soundscape". Polygon. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Stutz, Colin (26 October 2013). "Rockstar Music Head on 'Grand Theft Auto V': We've Topped What's Come Before (Audio)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Hatchman, Jonathan (26 November 2013). "Know The Score: The Music Of Grand Theft Auto V". Clash. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  6. ^ R* Q (31 August 2013). "GTAV Soundtrack Interviews and Details... Plus "Sleepwalking" by The Chain Gang of 1974 from the Official Trailer". Rockstar Games. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  7. ^ Shamoon, Evan (28 August 2013). "Inside the 'Grand Theft Auto V' Soundtrack". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Stuart, Keith (12 November 2012). "Grand Theft Auto V preview: the inside story". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  9. ^ Sterling, Jim (16 September 2013). "Review: Grand Theft Auto V". Destructoid. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  10. ^ MacDonald, Keza (16 September 2013). "Grand Theft Auto V Review". IGN. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  11. ^ Gertsmann, Jeff (16 September 2013). "Grand Theft Auto V Review". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  12. ^ Petit, Carolyn (16 September 2013). "Grand Theft Auto V Review: City of Angels and Demons". GameSpot. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  13. ^ Edge Staff (November 2013). "Play: Post Script". Edge (Future plc) (259): 89. 
  14. ^ Young, Alex (11 October 2013). "Album Review: Various Artists – The Music of Grand Theft Auto V". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 

External links[edit]