Episode 21: Journey

In Episode 21 we finally make good on our long-held promise to explore the world of videogame music, with Austin Wintory’s beautiful score for thatgamecompany’s Journey. Crucial to the experience of Journey, Wintory’s music was recognized with a Grammy nomination and is widely held to be one of the greatest videogame scores of all time. Join us as we take a videogame diversion and analyse this gorgeous soundtrack.


Episode notes:

5:20 – How does videogame music differ from film or television?
8:50 – Dan’s complicated menu music
10:05 – thatgamecompany’s journey to Journey, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘flow’
16:12 – The rise of independent videogame development and aesthetics
18:20 – Nascence and Wintory’s main Journey theme
21:50 – Tina Guo’s cello, Amy Tatum’s flute, and Charissa Barger’s harp
26:30 – Solo cello in Tan Dun’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Hans Zimmer’s The Last Samurai
31:20 – Journey’s central weenie
33:45 – The Call, the sonic palate cleanser
38:10 – The Mountain
41:33 – Sound design and music in Journey
44:02 – The First Confluence and the absence of a downbeat
48:48 – The Bridge and the Second Confluence
51:50 – The first encounter and Journey’s dance
55:30 – ‘I was born for this’
58:05 – The Desert’s Threshold and the musical interactivity of Journey
1:04:10 – The melancholy beauty of the machines
1:10:25 – The Descent, and Nick’s musical snowboarding adventures
1:20:16 – The Belly of the Whale’s Serpent
1:26:08 – The gaze of the sentinals
1:28:18 – Journey’s achingly beautiful string writing and Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
1:34:40 – Atonement and the giant structure
1:38:56 – Journey’s Buddhist links
1:47:03 – The ascent to the peak (‘The Crossing’)
1:55:12 – The nadir
2:01:10 – Apotheosis and the hero realised
2:12:24 – The return to Tina Guo’s solo cello
2:18:28 – What does Journey mean? Is it a metaphor?
2:21:22 – The Return?

Finally, if listeners are unfamiliar with Journey, we highly recommend checking out this video recording of a playthrough of the game from start to finish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkL94nKSd2M

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