The wild west
Trekking through the long windy nights and the vast wild west, The Music of Red Dead Redemption 2 is versatile in the way it captures the video game’s most freeing and darkest moments. The twenty-two instrumental tracks are produced by Woody Jackson, a loyal music collaborator for the Rockstar video game franchise.
There is a common theme heard in many of the songs in the score—one of these being the western melodic grooves that find their way through acoustic guitar pickings. “Outlaws of the West” features twangy guitars over cowboy whistling. It’s met with quite sophisticated and powering drums to give the whole track a kick. “An American Pastoral Scene” also showcases gently overtaking drums with airy cymbals and snappy hits.
What’s interesting is how Jackson creates three different moods throughout the score. One, as mentioned above, is the classic wild west tunes of the night. Then, Jackson introduces a more sinister, darker sound to the score: a track like “Mrs. Sadia Adler” is likely to come in during moments of peril within the video game. Sad violins lead into a rumbling intensifying beat for an overall suspenseful sound. “Doctor’s Opinion and Fleeting Joy” uses massively distorted bass notes in the opening, they rumble with intensity. It’s very intense, especially when the cold trumpets cry out, continuing these dark and malicious melodies of imminent danger.
Finally, Jackson produces his third element to the emotional rollercoaster of the score: melancholia. Several tracks sound a bit like a film noir soundtrack. In “Banking, The Old American Heart” characteristic drums meet bluesy horns and an overall sad tone. “The Wheel” then plunges into perhaps the most melancholy song in the score with its violin strings and slow piano.
Jackson creates a score that is fitting to the Wild West and all the emotions that can overtake one when imagining it, or playing through it. Successfully creating different moods for the various elements within the video game is an impressive feat, and Jackson does well in balancing classic western tunes amongst the dangerous sounds of crisis and melancholic sadness. Jackson keeps each instrument rumbling forward, carefully placing each step, particularly in the album’s standout track “Blood Fuels.” The Music of Red Dead Redemption 2 is a beautifully crafted score, and on top of that, an intelligently orchestrated one as well.