Soundtracks to Read/Write To

Hey all. I love to pump some music through my headphones when I read or write to help me stay focused. I often find video game soundtracks seem to do the trick, since they are usually designed to sit in the background and chill.

Anyway, I’m looking at expanding my playlists. So, give me your favorite game soundtracks. Ideally, I’m looking for soundtracks that don’t have a lot of lyrics (one or two songs are okay), and albums I can buy on Bandcamp. For example, my current list includes Celeste, Undertale, 2 Mello, and all four Super Giant games.

Edit: I should clarify. The Bandcamp thing isn’t an absolute requirement. I just like to support artists when I can.

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My absolute favorite productivity soundtrack.

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Va11halla and Umurangi Generation have definitely been my most listened to OST’s for the past couple years. I find their vaporwave/synthwave derived sounds work great for working,driving,chilling, and just about anything. Most of all they both have very original sounds that surpass their influences.

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I’m the procrastinator-type writer who can’t even start writing without throwing together a playlist of Mood Music, so a lot of my writing music is like ‘well, I’m writing a horror story, so let me put on some John Carpenter and the Silent Hill OST.’ But a few of my recent faves:

And one that probably only hits for people of a certain age, but I’ve been vibing a lot with this remaster of the soundtrack to Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon. A lot of nostalgia in that one, perhaps.

Also, we had a weekly thread a few months ago for chill soundtracks, some of those suggestions might fit what you’re looking for. :headphones: I’ll repeat my rec there that the Tooth and Tail OST is great writing music.

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Oh, hmm. I did a search for music threads and missed that one. I will definitely look through it.

Despite really liking a lot of game music, I don’t keep much of it in rotation. But beyond some of the obvious stuff for me (like Umurangi as above), I’ve been listening to a lot of the Risk of Rain 2 soundtrack lately. Really fits with a project I’m working on, and is just incredibly good background tunes.

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The Kentucky Route Zero soundtrack has I believe 6 songs with vocals featured prominently, but also a lot of great synth-y ambient tracks in there too! Kentucky Route Zero- Original Soundtrack | Ben Babbitt

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Endless Space 2 by FlyByNo is on constant repeat in this house. It’s very moody and atmospheric but it’s not overwhelming.

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This is a weird one but it’s worked pretty well for me:

The Red Dead Redemption soundtrack.

Chill Cowboy Beats To Study To

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I’m tragically lost in lo-fi endless youtube mixes to get me through the 9-to-5 news shift. But for like, actually good soundtracks, I’d shout out Lifeformed’s OST for Dustforce.

and maybe Hylics 2? I never got around to playing it but there are some great moody late-night writing vibes in there.

Plus the above Umurangi, Kentucky Route Zero, Risk of Rain 2, etc

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The Surviving Mars soundtrack is great background music

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12 years later and I still listen to both of these album in their entirety about once every 2 weeks

Ed Harrision makes a particular type of music that I have not found an equivalent to that I can just have on in the background while I’m doing something else. It gets me into a focused mode that is honestly hard for me to accomplish most of the time with other music. I probably owe him in part for getting my degree given to how much I listened to this in the college library basement while programming or writing a report.

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All of the Supergiant music is excellent, with Pyre being my standout fave just because of how unapologetically weird it is. Also a huge of fan of Into the Breach and Subnautica: BZ, both by Ben Prunty. And Outer Wilds and Hollow Knight would probably round out my list of personal faves.

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I have always been a fan of Fez and Hyper Light Drifter from Disasterpiece. Really atmospheric type music which gives me this great feeling of wanderlust, but also very good for zoning out on work type tasks. The soundtracks from the Pixeljunk games are very soothing. I specifically love otograph’s PIxeljunk Monsters soundtrack. Other favorite soundtracks of mine are Spelunky HD/2, Stardew Valley, and Shovel Knight (Including DLC).

Video game soundtrack adjacent, I would recommend The Consouls for jazzy video game interpretations along with The OneUps who typically play very varied styles of video game interpretations between their albums (rock, bossa nova, etc.). The latter probably being my favorite video game cover band.

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Does an album of hip hop/trap remixes of Animal Crossing songs count? Leon Chang’s re:treat is one of my go tos for working and relaxing!

re:treat | leon chang (bandcamp.com)

To go even farther from the OPs premise, Leon Chang recently released a soundtrack for a imagined PS1 era JRPG. It’s really great! There’s something really compelling about listening to a kind of music that was very formative to me as a kid through the lens of a musician in 2020.

return to bird world | leon chang (bandcamp.com)

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Rediscovered the Fez soundtrack the other day - had forgotten how great it was!

The Outer Wilds is beautiful too!

I always enjoyed listening to the dragon age inquisition soundtrack while studying/writing

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So glad someone said it. Man there’s some truly incredible tracks. Wandering, peaceful, lonely, but not without energy. My personal fav:

Want something more fantasy? Check out Death’s Gambit. It’s not as consistently chill as the rest, but there are some great pulls to put on a playlist:

More fantasy: Runescape. (What? No.) Yeah! In recent years they’ve done some incredible orchestral arrangements, right there in the world right next to the old stuff:

Last pick for now: No Man’s Sky. God, where to even begin? so many good ones:

I… I think I just realized I listen to a lot more of them than I realized.

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Despite asking for video game soundtracks I wanted to sneak in and recommended a few of my favorite movie soundtracks/scores which I am much better versed in. These are mostly or completely instrumental.

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross have been at it this past decade producing Oscar nominated and winning soundtracks but my two personal favorites are their early Fincher collaborations with Gone Girl and The Social Network. Listened to them a ton studying, writing my master thesis and beyond just as music. Might be a little different in tone but they have a strong sense of atmosphere and are surprisingly melodic and catchy at times. None are available on Bandcamp tho (But if you want some old school jazz their score for Mank is).

The Social Network

Gone Girl

Also want to shout a few others:
Alexander Desplat - Little Women
Jon Brion - Lady Bird
Arrival - Johann Johannsson
Call me by your name - Various Artists (A few non instrumental songs here but key choice cuts are John Adams Hallelujah Junctions, Ryuchi Sakomotos M.A.Y. in the Backyard + Germination and Une barque sur l’océan from Miroirs performed by André Laplante written by Ravel and Sufjans songs ofc)
Paris, Texas - Ry Cooder
Moonlight - Nicholas Britell
Kajillionaire - Emilie Mossier (Despite being Oscar nominated for Minari this year I prefer his score to Miranda Julys Kajillionaire which also features Angel Olsen doing a cover of Mr. Lonely)

And to keep on point if I were to recommend a game soundtrack now that KRZ already has been → Tomáš Dvořák aka Floex for his work on Amanita Designs Machinarium which you can find on Bandcamp here.

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I listen to a lot of JRPG soundtracks usually. I’ve recently found that Vagrant Story and Chrono Cross are both really good for writing. They’re both very atmospheric soundtracks, so they tend to fade into the background easily, though sometimes I find myself pausing from my work to listen more closely to my favorite tracks. Chrono Cross is for when you want something calm and mellow, while Vagrant Story is definitely moodier and a bit ominous.``https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5mZ7AkTA0A`https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CLP1TpCoiY