Have you heard? is a showcase for the unconventional, unique and inspiring music out there that never seems to get the limelight it deserves.
Red Planet Nocturne - Christopher Tin (2016)
“Red Planet Nocturne” is a short piece of music written for piano and synthesiser by grammy-winning composer Christopher Tin. Generally known for his work on the Civilization franchise, particularly “Baba Yetu”, Tin composed the work as the main theme for the economic strategy video game Offworld Trading Company.
So how does a mix of piano and funky space synth constitute an unconventional, unique or inspiring piece of music?
First, it is important to understand the context of the music. Tin is tasked with writing music for a video game set on Mars where almost every action taken needs to be carefully considered in a competitive live (space) market environment. Now, how many orchestras do you think there are in space? Believe it or not, we have an International Space Orchestra, but they haven’t actually performed in space. No, there are no orchestras in space and fittingly there are no orchestras in “Red Planet Nocturne”. Instead, Tin opted for a soft bell, a typewriter of some sort and a fuzzy firework when playing with his synthesiser, giving the whole piece the ‘otherworldly’ feel that it needs. Then, he ‘earths’ it with a soft piano chiming away in the background, bringing wholeness and familiarity to the music. After all, it is still us humans that are colonising Mars.
The result is gentle piece that meanders in its own way. The music almost feels as if it is floating around, curiously adventuring into a new unknown. That doesn’t sound too much different to Mars anyway. In any case, the music is mysterious, but soothing, and well worth a listen!
“Red Planet Nocturne” has influenced some of my work. Most notably, the piano chimes in the piece inspired similar chimes in my own piece, “Crop Circles” from the Adventure_RPG OST.
Happy listening and enjoy!