Royalty Free Music Like Silent Hill
The Silent Hill games are not only some of the most popular psychological horror games of all time, they’re some of the most loved video games of all time period. But their popularity goes beyond just their gameplay, as Akira Yamaoka’s Silent Hill soundtrack has become a much loved piece of art in itself.
If you love the Silent Hill games and music, and you want to learn more about them, then you’re in the right place. Here we’ll take a deep dive into both the games and the music, and we’ll let you know where you can find similar music to use in your own content, without having to worry about copyright strikes.
Silent Hill is a survival horror game and media franchise that’s best known for its series of much loved video games. The first game, Silent Hill, was released in 1999, and since then there have been seven more full Silent Hill games: Silent Hill 2, Silent Hill 3, Silent Hill 4: The Room, Silent Hill: Origins, Silent Hill: Homecoming, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Silent Hill: Downpour.
Though created by the Japanese game designer Keiichiro Toyama, and initially developed by Japanese studio Konami Digital Entertainment, each of the Silent Hill games revolves around the fictional American town of Silent Hill. The Silent Hill story changes from game to game, with different playable characters and scenarios.
Outside of the main game canon there have been several spin off adaptations including a mobile game, a visual novel for Game Boy Advance, and two movie adaptations: Silent Hill, and Silent Hill: Revelation.
Japanese video game composer Akira Yamaoka is responsible for almost every track across the soundtracks of all Silent Hill games. Let’s take a dive into who he is, and the story behind his iconic Silent Hill soundtrack.
Who composed the Silent Hill soundtrack?
As with any horror movie, so much of the tension of a horror video game comes from music and sound design, and the Silent Hill games are no exception. Because sound is so important in psychological horror and horror games in general, having the right composer and sound designer can make or break a game.
Fortunately, Team Silent, the sub division of Konami responsible for the first few Silent Hill games, didn't have to look far for the perfect person for the job. Akira Yamaoka had been working as a composer for Konami since 1993, and when Konami began looking for a composer for the first Silent Hill game he volunteered himself claiming he was the only person capable of doing the soundtrack justice.
Akira Yamaoka was initially only hired as a composer, but he soon became responsible for the sound design of the game as well.
Yamaoka is a trained guitarist and producer who specialises in the genres of ambient, dark ambient, industrial, trip hop and alternative rock. He has cited musicians such as the Nine Inch Nails frontman and renowned composer and producer Trent Reznor as one of his major influences. Though released after the Silent Hills games, listen to the soundtrack of Gone Girl which was composed by Reznor to get a feel of the similarity in tension that he and Yamaoka create in their music.
The industrial and noise driven sounds that appear throughout the Silent Hill OST can also be heard in Reznor’s early Nine Inch Nails work.
Notice the unsettling guitars, glitching background noise and the hopeless and melancholic chords Reznor uses. All of these elements can be heard throughout Yamaoka’s Silent Hill soundtracks on compositions such as Killing Time and Ordinary Vanity.
If you’re looking for melancholic, unsettling music, then look no further than Accusonus’ Music Cellar. There you’ll find loads of royalty free music that’s perfect for use in any horror themed video, podcast or game! We’ve even got a dedicated horror music album packed full of creepy tracks.
Though a lot of the Silent Hill soundtrack is ambient and industrial in nature, there is quite a large variety of musical styles across the score. For example, Theme Of Laura from the Silent Hill 2 soundtrack is heavily rock influenced with acoustic guitars, a chugging drum beat and shimmering riffs. It’s quintessential 90s alt-rock.
In addition, you’d be forgiven for mistaking tracks like Promise for a Red Hot Chili Peppers instrumental. It’s not hard to imagine Anthony Kiedis singing over that wistful, wandering guitar line.
If you love this style of music and you want to use it in your YouTube videos you’ll definitely want to check out Music Cellar. It’s a one stop shop for royalty free music, you’ll be sure to find the perfect tunes for you.
The story, the gameplay, THE FOG; there are countless elements that contribute to making Silent Hill almost unbearably terrifying to play. But here we’re going to focus on how the music contributes to the fear you feel when playing.
One key element of the music, particularly in the soundtrack for the first Silent Hill game, is the use of foley and noise in the background. Yanakoa uses what sounds like vinyl record noise and industrial machinery in the background of many tracks. These scratchy, analogue sounds create an unsettling atmosphere; things aren’t quite right, things aren’t going smoothly, there’s something broken and distorted about the world you’re in.
In addition, this analogue noise is reminiscent of the VHS camera look used in found footage psychological horrors such as The Blair Witch Project. Though The Blair Witch Project came out after the first Silent Hill game (it was released later in the same year), modern audiences can’t help but make the association now that the found footage genre has become such a part of the mainstream consciousness.
You too can use sound effects like this to great effect in your music and videos. For royalty free sound effects check out Accusonus’ SFX Cellar.
The main Silent Hill theme is primarily an electric guitar based song. However, there are many instruments in the composition.
The track opens with a very quickly played tremolo riff on what sounds like a classical guitar, however, it could also be played on a ukulele or similar instrument. In addition the arrangement contains drums, piano, violin, flutes and more. If you listen closely you’ll even hear a sample of what sounds like a woman sobbing at around the 2:23 mark.