Queen's University

Music as (Temporal) Disruption in Assassin’s Creed

 

In the Assassin’s Creed game series, the player’s historical narrative is viewed through the lens of a modern-day sub-plot:  the protagonist is connected to a device in a research lab which is able to access and enhance their ancestors’ memories.  Throughout the game, the player is reminded of the strain caused by this machine through a variety of sound effects and visual distortions.  The music of the series also invokes disruptions:  while historical music styles are used to suggest the time period and geographic setting of the game (such as Gregorian chant in the original Assassin’s Creed game, set in Jerusalem during the Crusades), these historical snippets are subsumed within electronic music featuring digitally-altered sounds, rapid rhythmic pulses (suggesting an accelerated heartbeat), and abrupt transitions from loud to soft.  The resultant blend creates a disconnect for the player:  a bleeding-over of ancient with modern.

This paper argues that the juxtapositions, interruptions, and disruptions within this music, as well as other musical features such as the rhythm, tonality, and digital instrumentation, invoke a sense of aural discomfort in the player which is intended to mimic the protagonist’s mental and physical distress.

Paper given at MusCan conference, May 2018. Dr. Stephanie Lind.

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Creating Worlds: Medievalisms in Fantasy-Genre Video Gaming

 

“Fantasy” as a genre is often grounded in a modern-day re-interpretation of Medieval style.  This paper examines this lens of medievalism through analysis of songs from video games both implicitly and explicitly identified as “Medieval”, examining the role of these musical medievalisms in communicating elements of the in-game mythology and narrative.

Delivered at Congress 2016 (Canadian University Music Society), June 3rd, 2016. Dr. Stephanie Lind. 

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