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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ominous (Latin) Chanting — Overrated?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Is there such a thing as too much?

What comes to your mind when you think of "epic videogame music"? Truly epic, not "epic" in the sense that it's an overused spammed word. (Looking at you, Jane McGonigal and marketing departments.) The music you like and admire.

A lot of people would bring up themes like Final Fantasy VII's "One-Winged Angel", whether it be its original form or one of its many remixes. The Advent Children version literally has over 7 million views on YouTube on one video, and many millions more across other videos. 



This theme alone is probably why people want that HD remake of Final Fantasy VII and why they cheered Square Enix for bringing it at E3 2015. It's why Sephiroth is part of the "Noble Nine" in the GameFAQs Character Contests.

Why is this theme so impressionable? Could it be because of it playing at a super-critical moment in the game? Is it something about its composition?

...Is it that ominous Latin chanting in the background?

Many videogames now try to throw ominous chanting at you to try to make scenes epic. Sometimes to make things more epic than they really have any business being. And many people fall for it. And now there is such a saturation of this kind of music in games that it is becoming too standard and not epic anymore...



Apparently chanting "SOAP SOAP SOAP SOAP" makes this one of the best songs in videogame history. Tense moment, right? King Dad is doing some weird gravity stuff and looks like he'll be in his rightful place as master of the galaxy. If you took away the choir here there isn't much left to the song. And no offence to King Dad (all of that goes to the Super Mario Galaxy folks and Shigeru Miyamoto too), but the actual fight wasn't really... um... much of a big deal in terms of actions. It's cool to describe in retrospect, but actually playing the fight is sorta bland.


I always think every new Final Destination theme in the newest Super Smash Bros. game is the coolest one, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl had ominous Latin chanting. The Latin here is the same (but sung OMINOUSLY) as the main theme of the game, which is an actual song with meaningful lyrics. Just in Latin.

It just so happens that, if you've played Super Smash Bros. Brawl's story mode, you've heard like a dozen variations of the main theme in that game. So it's very easy to say that your favourite isn't Final Destination. My favourite is personally Step: The Plain. No chanting at all. I would like to point out that Brawl's final boss music has no ominous chanting at all, and that's supposed to be a more epic moment than any ol' Fox vs. Fox game on Final Destination.

One more: Soda Popinski's fight theme from Punch-Out!! Wii.


Popinski's theme is the most-viewed video of the uploader's whole channel, which includes many other videos along with the themes of the other fighters. It's seen as epic because of the ominous chanting, which ain't even words and definitely ain't sang by Latin-speakers. Y'know, it'd be those Russians. Meanwhile, MY favourite songs from the game are the two that ended up in Trayvon Tyson's Punch-Out!!, being Disco Kid's and Mr. Sandman's.

Too many folks go to either an insane electric guitar or an ominous choir to try to hype up a moment and make it epic. I think that's a very narrow approach to music. I'm not one of those people who are against vocals in music, mind you. In fact, I think the reason why people are so attracted to ominous choirs in videogame music is because original videogame music so often lacks vocal accompaniment of any sort. I really think that if more original compositions for videogames had lyrics in them, then the ominous Latin chanting will be recognised as a novelty.

It's far easier to ominously chant irrelevant Latin than it is to write lyrics up — at least "One Winged Angel" has real lyrics, just in Latin. That's a big reason why chanting is more prominent than real lyrics, and it just sounds cooler in a mysterious musical way. Vocal accompaniment can attach real meaning to your song that wouldn't be present otherwise. The voice is a unique, irreplaceable instrument. You can use it more creatively than just as any other instrument.

Hey, does K.K. Slider's music from Animal Crossing count as chanting too? Now here's some pseudo-lyrics that are applied to genres that aren't epic orchestras or whatever. You get out-of-the-ordinary combinations like... K.K. Country! One of my favourites.





When original music is made for the games that KoopaTV makes, they all have lyrics. And those lyrics are clearly intelligible. It's another situation of KoopaTV practicing what it preaches, though now Ludwig wants to make an ominous-chanting version of one of the songs in the game KoopaTV is working on now, just to see what happens... Anyway, what are your thoughts on this topic? You can even ominously chant your comments in the comments section, just have it in English.


This article was inspired by a trope. Check out KoopaTV's TVTropes page here and contribute to it!
We did it! KoopaTV got Ominous Latin Chanting in Capture the Confederate Flag!

17 comments :

  1. There is never enough ominous chanting.
    It doesn't even have to be Latin. I just love ominous chanting.

    Pipe organ music is also good.

    Pipe organ + ominous chanting = <3

    Now, I like plenty of music that doesn't include chanting, such as Descole's theme, which is one of my favorites! (note the pipe organ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX7ovPskZIQ

    I agree that proper lyrics, when used well, can definitely add to a moment. One of To the Moon's most emotional moments is accompanied by a song that makes it all the more painful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP-AAlZlCkM

    An official remix of my favorite Tales of Symphonia song adds in some... it's not even chanting, just vocalizing... just to increase the awesomeness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N8ApjACf60

    On that note, I have to mention that a different Final Destination entirely has won my heart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG3QgQCXyUo (Yes, I think there's a pipe organ in there somewhere.)

    One more, one more! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuBp7364saI

    Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I love it all! *flails*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also haven't seen you this excited about a subject in... a really long time.

      I think I hit a nerve.

      Delete
    2. I really like video game music, especially with pipe organs and/or chanting. XDDD

      Every song I linked, I have copies of, with the exception of the ToS remix (I'm not sure if Tales of whatever spin-off there even has an official OST released), but I have the ToS soundtrack and therefore the original version of It Can Waver and Fight.

      Delete
    3. Okay I've listened to all the songs you've posted.

      .......and that's all I'll say.

      One thing I was considering in this article was to have games that DON'T have ominous Latin chanting and discuss if they would be better off with them.

      For some reason, listening to the SMRPG soundtrack (which is sorta mediocre in my view) and puttin' ominous chanting to it would make it a lot more engaging. :o

      Ace Attorney ominous chanting during an OBJECTION theme?

      Delete
    4. Ominous chanting has its place, though. It would need to be at especially dramatic moments. I'm not sure if it would work for an Objection theme, because it feels to sinister for our heroes... maybe if it was Krisoph's Objection theme, or the theme for a particularly sinister prosecutor. (Or a villain's theme. The phantom's theme almost went there. XD)

      It would have fit Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, I think.

      Delete
    5. Not all Ominous Chanting is for a sinister purpose. Even if all my examples in the article were sinister.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bio99hoZVYI
      Fire Emblem: Awakening has ominous Latin chanting as the theme music for its final chapter, and its meant to be uplifting or something.

      I mean, Apollo is a damn Greek deity, he should get some chanting.

      Delete
    6. If it's uplifting, I wouldn't call it "ominous" chanting.

      But yes, I also approve of non-sinister chanting.

      Delete
    7. Ominous isn't a synonym for sinister.

      That said, "synonym" and "sinister" go amazingly next to one another.

      Delete
    8. Ominous used to have a positive meaning, but nowadays no one would say, "Wow, that was ominous, I feel uplifted!" XD

      Delete
    9. Fun fact: The word ominous comes from...LATIN.

      Delete
  2. One more, one more! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq0K2mHJTFM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll... check out your YouTube videos at some point in the near future.

      Speaking of Tales of Symphonia, wot should I do with that DeviantART notification from you about Part 1 of your (presumably) short story? Read it?

      Delete
    2. You should NOT read it unless you want a majority of the game's spoilers spoiled for you (particularly in the upcoming part 2). You should play Tales of Symphonia and THEN read it. :)

      Delete
    3. Ugh... yes ma'am.

      ...Sorta weird you're tellin' me NOT to read somethin' you wrote though. :o

      Delete
    4. 'kay don't worry your Loyalty Rewards Program points are in now I was sorta busy praying yesterday.

      Delete
    5. Tales of Symphonia is a glorious game and deserves to be experienced for itself with as few spoilers as possible. :P

      ...Believe it or not, I don't check often enough to even know you hadn't added them yesterday. XD

      Delete
    6. ...Yeah I know you don't but I just wanted the total number of comments on the site to be an even number.

      Delete

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