Music Like Minecraft
First released in 2011, Minecraft is the best selling video game of all time. A generation of gamers grew up playing it, and it continues to find a new audience amongst younger players with popular ports on modern consoles such as the Nintendo Switch. The minimal, nostalgic Minecraft soundtrack, written by C418, is a big part of the game and part of what makes it so beloved.
In this article we’re going to learn about the Minecraft sound track, who wrote it, what makes it so nostalgic, and where you can find music like it to use in your videos, podcasts, games and more.
The Minecraft ost (original soundtrack) is very calming and nostalgic. Let’s dive in deeper and find out exactly what genre it is, and why it sounds the way it does!
What genre is Minecraft music?
The music of Minecraft is primarily electronic music and instrumental ambient music. It is very calming, minimal and atmospheric.
Minecraft game music composer Daniel Rosenfeld could not compose music for specific gameplay moments because the world of Minecraft is randomly generated, and the player can shape the world however they like. This limitation meant that he had to compose music that could fit in almost any context. He explains this in an interview with Fact:
“You might go down into a cave. And I could make ‘cave’ music for that, ’cuz you’re in a cave. The problem is, I don’t know if it’s a cave, I’ve just assumed that. For all I know it could be a player-made house. So, I make music that doesn’t really have a theme. Basically, you can interpret whatever you want from it because it all shares the same sort of melancholy.”
The melancholy nature of the Minecraft ost can be a little scary. Composer C418 acknowledged this in an interview saying that he had the lonely nature of the game in mind when writing the Minecraft music.
“I think the narrative I had in mind was the kind of loneliness that the game exudes. I mean, even if you play with friends, the game is so big and so open-ended that you often just walk out of it lonely”
The second album of Minecraft music that C418 released, Minecraft Volume Beta, has a darker sound than the first Minecraft soundtrack Minecraft Volume Alpha. Minecraft Volume Beta contains more recent additions to the soundtrack as well as songs from Minecraft music discs which can be found and played in game. C418 describes it as “at times very dark”.
However, other musicians have worked on the soundtrack as well. British composer Gareth Coker wrote 12 songs which were available as DLC in legacy console versions of the game. In addition Lena Raine, who also worked on multi award winning platformer Celeste, composed four tracks for the 2020 ‘Nether Update’ of Minecraft.
In a 2011 interview with BebopVox, Daniel Rosenfeld (AKA C418) revealed that the name C418 does not actually have any meaning.
“Before I started making music my brother had [been making music as] C818 and I thought that’s really cryptic and it doesn’t mean anything, so I took C418. It’s really interesting how people take it for granted and really don’t care what it means.”
What genre is C418?
C418’s work on the Minecraft soundtrack is primarily instrumental ambient music and electronic music. However he has released several other albums in varying genres. In other C418 songs you will find elements of IDM, synthwave, downtempo, techno and more.
Rosenfeld has cited artists such as renowned ambient and IDM artist Aphex Twin as a source of inspiration. This influence can be heard when listening to tracks such as Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th.
Who is Daniel Rosenfeld?
Daniel Rosenfeld, better known as C418, is a german musician and composer working in the field of electronic music. He is best known for his work on the Minecraft soundtrack.
Rosenfeld began making music as a child after his brother introduced him to the digital audio workstation (DAW) Ableton Live. He recalled his brother telling him “even an idiot” can make music with the software.
In 2007, Rosenfeld began releasing a track every week on his personal blog. He also became active on the forum TIGSource where he met many indie game developers. It was here that he started working on indie video game soundtracks, and where he met Minecraft developer Markus “Notch” Persson. Rosenfeld and Persson bonded over their similar music tastes. Rosenfeld would share his tracks and Persson would share early versions of Minecraft. Eventually Notch asked if Rosenfeld would like to provide the soundtrack for the game.
Since then Minecraft has become the best selling video game of all time with over 200 million units sold, making C418’s soundtrack some of the most listened to music of all time. It’s also
one of the most beloved video game soundtracks of all time.
The Minecraft soundtrack is incredibly nostalgic, part of this is to do with the music itself. C418’s ambient, wistful compositions have a very nostalgic feeling to them. Some tracks even feature chip tune style synth sounds which give the game the feel of a retro game from the 90s or earlier.
However, much of the nostalgia comes from shared memories of the game and its soundtrack. Minecraft came out in 2011 and so many players have grown up with it as a huge part of their lives. You only have to read through the comments on some of the soundtrack’s tunes on YouTube to see how much the game means to people.
“I found my iPad that was almost 8 years old. I charged it and Minecraft was on there. I opened it as soon as i saw it. The app wasn’t up to date so everything was the same I loaded my first world ever and found myself in my 2 block high dirt house right next to the world boarder I didn’t think it would make me cry but I teared up. I had a hidden chest. And I still knew exactly where it was
Thank you Minecraft. For my amazing childhood [Sic]” - Sade Fade (YouTube)
“I can really remember, when I was around 7, my first ever house was made out of yellow wool, i had a farm with horses, I would always fly when I saw a mob, and kill it with a bow. Even for people who joined later, this is our childhood. Everybody's childhood. This song makes me cry. At the time we would cry because we couldn't play anymore. Now we cry because of the memories, and because of real life trouble. [Sic]” - Weeb Memer (YouTube)
All of the old Minecraft music is still in the game, however new music has been added since. If you want to listen to only the original Minecraft songs it’s worth checking out the album Minecraft Volume Alpha. This album, released in 2011, has most of the tracks from the original Minecraft soundtrack as well as songs used in trailers.
Minecraft - Volume Alpha is home to the most nostalgic of the minecraft tracks. Later additions, such as those that can be found on Minecraft Volume Beta, are great, but they don’t have the same minimal feel to them that is loved by so many players.
Exactly why the Minecraft ost is so good is a difficult question. There is no one reason why a piece of art is “good”, however in the case of video game music, how well suited to the game the music is can really elevate it.
The tone and atmosphere created by C418’s gentle, melancholic and minimal music suits the world of Minecraft perfectly. The exploratory nature and the lack of a clear narrative in the original creative game mode requires a soundtrack that doesn’t have big emotional peaks and troughs. Instead what’s needed is a general mood and tone, and that’s exactly what C418 provided.
The Minecraft of music is unfortunately not royalty free. This means that you can’t use it in your YouTube videos, podcasts, live streams or any other monetized online content.
However, luckily there are lots of resources available online where you can find similar, instrumental ambient music for your content. One of the best places to find royalty free music is Accusonus’ Music Cellar.
You can sign up to Music Cellar for free, and any music you download is totally royalty free. This means you can use it however you like in your content and you don’t have to worry about videos getting taken down or demonetized!