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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
The Music of Grand Theft Auto V.png
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released 24 September 2013
Genre Soundtrack
Length 216:13
Label Rockstar Games
Various Artists chronology
The Music of Grand Theft Auto IV
The Music of Grand Theft Auto V
Welcome to Los Santos
Rockstar Games chronology
Max Payne 3 Official Soundtrack
The Music of Grand Theft Auto V
Welcome to Los Santos

The Music of Grand Theft Auto V is the soundtrack to the video game Grand Theft Auto V. The soundtrack was released digitally 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 retail version of the soundtrack was released on 9 December 2014 for CD and vinyl.[1] 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.

Production and composition

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]

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

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Consequence of Sound C+[9]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[10]

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.[11] 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,[12] retrospectively noting

"'s only in replaying GTAV's missions that you come to appreciate the complexity and power of [Rockstar's] bespoke, dynamic score, whose rhythms do so much to achieve that age-old videogame goal of creating the sensation of playing a movie."[13]

Carolyn Petit of GameSpot also thought that the score "lends missions more cinematic flavour",[14] while Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb said that the score helped enhance dramatic tension during missions.[15] Keza MacDonald of IGN commented that the licensed music had been selected well, and agreed that the original score "builds tension" on missions.[16] 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".[17]

Track listing

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

See also


  1. ^ R* Q (3 November 2014). "The Music of Grand Theft Auto V: Limited Edition Soundtrack CD and Vinyl Box Sets Coming this December". Rockstar Newswire. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  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. ^ Levy, Pat (11 October 2013). "Various Artist – The Music of Grand Theft Auto V". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  10. ^ Mokoena, Tshepo (12 December 2014). "The Music of Grand Theft Auto V box set review – driving music revved up to its limits". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  11. ^ Sterling, Jim (16 September 2013). "Review: Grand Theft Auto V". Destructoid. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  12. ^ Edge Staff (November 2013). "Play: Post Script". Edge. Future plc (259): 89. 
  13. ^ "The Ten Best Games Of The Generation". Edge. Future plc (272): 74–81. November 2014. 
  14. ^ Petit, Carolyn (16 September 2013). "Grand Theft Auto V Review: City of Angels and Demons". GameSpot. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  15. ^ Gertsmann, Jeff (16 September 2013). "Grand Theft Auto V Review". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  16. ^ MacDonald, Keza (16 September 2013). "Grand Theft Auto V Review". IGN. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  17. ^ Young, Alex (11 October 2013). "Album Review: Various Artists – The Music of Grand Theft Auto V". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  18. ^ a b c Sources that refer to the contents and general information of the soundtrack include:

External links