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"Good Music For Pulp Gaming?" Topic

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706 hits since 19 Feb 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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War Panda19 Feb 2017 5:53 p.m. PST

Set in the 1930's etc…I've used some of the period stuff for Cthulhu Gaming but I was hoping for more of Indiana Jones maybe…any suggestions

An obvious choice would be the movies I guess…

tkdguy19 Feb 2017 6:07 p.m. PST

Music scores from cinema sound like the best bet. Aside from Indiana Jones, try The Mummy and The Rocketeer.

And while this is a giant robot anime, some tracks here would work. I've used it for a game long ago. The last song on the playlist works really well in a Pulp/Noir game.

YouTube link

zoneofcontrol19 Feb 2017 6:17 p.m. PST

You could look at musicals, jazz/blues/swing and even the beginnings of country music. Think Great Depression era.

Also, everything old is new again. Lots of redone versions of old music with a more modern kick.

For instance, here are three versions of the same song, "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow"

Original: YouTube link

From O Brother Where Art Thou: link

Winning entry on The Voice:
YouTube link

Terrement Inactive Member19 Feb 2017 6:19 p.m. PST


Whemever119 Feb 2017 6:22 p.m. PST

IMHO, anything too dramatic would be distracting--They pay good money to composers to match the music to what's going on on the screen. I'd just stick with period music like you said--were you using big band music?

tkdguy19 Feb 2017 6:52 p.m. PST

I've used Lena Horne's songs in my games. Also, look at some of the stuff in the Cowboy Bebop work.

YouTube link

"Rain" and "Adieu" work well as ambient music, although not for fight scenes.

Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 7:54 p.m. PST

The vegetable dance, it is hard to get pulpier than vegetables!

Personal logo PaulCollins Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 8:26 p.m. PST

I bought a three cd set called Jazz Noir that has themes from movies and shows in the time period and genre. I got it off of Radio Classics. It serves as good painting background too. Includes things like: Peter Gunn, Odds Against Tomorrow, Late At Bailey's Pad from 77 Sunset Strip, Bewildered from The Wild One, Anatomy of a Murder, and many more. 60 jazz pieces altogether.

Crazyivanov19 Feb 2017 9:02 p.m. PST

The entire soundtrack to Bioshock 2 is great period and period style songs. A personal favorite is "Here Comes the Boogie Man".

legatushedlius20 Feb 2017 4:24 a.m. PST

Just looked at my Pulp playlist on iTunes. The Indiana Jones films, yes and the three soundtracks to the Young Indiana Jones TV shows have some good stuff too. Definitely The Rocketeer but also Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack to The Shadow (try to get the 2 disc edition). The score for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is also good. The original 1933 king Kong music (great re-recoring by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra) was the soundtrack that really defined all of the last 85 years worth of film music.

Gone Fishing20 Feb 2017 7:10 a.m. PST

There are some excellent suggestions here. One choice that seems to be rarely known would be to use some of the music from the Tiki Craze of the 50s and early 60s: it was intoxicated (sometimes literally) by the ethnic sounds of Africa, Polynesia and Asia, all blended together in a Western Jazz soundworld. Add heaping amounts of tropical birdcalls and random "jungle noises" and you're there. To some degree it was written as background music for bars and lounges, and so it actually makes quite good gaming music: dramatic without being distracting.

My fist pick would probably be Les Baxter, the father of it all. The holy grail is this: link It's OOP, but available second hand. If interested, you can listen to some tracks on the MP3 selection. Another good one is Mondo Exotica (this sort of music is technically called "Exotica") here: link

Mind you, this is not Mozart, but it's fun, highly atmospheric music, perfect for Pulp games. It also makes great party music, so you could get double the mileage from any purchase. It will make you want to pour a Mai Tai, I promise.

Good luck with your search!


War Panda20 Feb 2017 8:52 a.m. PST

Thanks for these great suggestions! I was surprised that most I was totally unfamiliar with so cheers

I'd just stick with period music like you said--were you using big band music?

A lot of big band but it is a compilation of 20s and 30s music…I was looking for something a little more up beat I think – maybe I associate it too much with my Call of Cthulhu games :)

Terrement Inactive Member20 Feb 2017 9:00 a.m. PST


Hafen von Schlockenberg Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member20 Feb 2017 9:33 a.m. PST

+1 to Legatus on the King Kong CD. Marco Polo produced a number of rescorings of classic film music,including several of the Universal horror scores of the 40's.




Some have been issued by budget label Naxos,without(AFAIK) the more lavish booklets featured with the full-price Marco Polo versions. Oddly enough,a casual search seems to turn up lower prices for the Marco Polos.

If you want to consider something as far forward as the fifties, I linked to the Monstrous-Movie-Music site here:

TMP link


Try a few clips to see if there's something that appeals.

Pyrate Captain20 Feb 2017 12:08 p.m. PST

Depends on the game. Right now I'm seeking Seaview sonar pings.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member20 Feb 2017 1:21 p.m. PST
Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member20 Feb 2017 10:27 p.m. PST

These are soundtracks I'd recommend for great atmophsheric music for a variety of moods:

The Cotton Club; The Aviator; The Rocketeer; Broadway Empire; Conan the Barbarian; King Kong; The Time Machine; Psycho; Hellbound:Hellraiser II; Sleepy Hollow; King Kong (Steiner); Themes from Classic Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films; The Omen; Planet of the Apes (Goldsmith)

A mix of period music, period-inspired music, and general suspense/thriller/horror pieces.

chironex21 Feb 2017 3:31 a.m. PST

You could look up musical backgrounds on places like RPGnow, some may be suitable, even if they were meant for other genres .

Hey, look, there's even one for a speakeasy…

Listen before you buy, though; I've ended up buying some that were too loud and distracting unless turned all the way down. Yeah, it sounds just like you're in an abandoned factory – in the middle of a Cat. 4 cyclone. And will the dog across the road from the graveyard shut its hole, or do I have to mix a gunshot into the track?!

Also, Abney Park have some tracks in a style they call "Electroswing". This set:
contains discs of a lot of their stuff, including their electroswing songs (I believe there is a whole disc of those?)
YouTube link
YouTube link
YouTube link

While you're there, there are also some tracks from such as Steam Powered Giraffe that might suit.

War Panda21 Feb 2017 11:30 a.m. PST

Yeah, it sounds just like you're in an abandoned factory in the middle of a Cat. 4 cyclone. And will the dog across the road from the graveyard shut its hole, or do I have to mix a gunshot into the track?!

That's too funny…I seriously laughed I tell yeh…

Thanks again guys…looking through all this and there's some real gems

Hafen von Schlockenberg Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member21 Feb 2017 1:59 p.m. PST

One thing you haven't mentioned specifically, is WHERE your games are set. Old jazz is appropriate for US,or Western European-based games, but if your gallant adventurers are riding camels (or Fords) through the desert on a Last Crusade,maybe something like this?

War Panda21 Feb 2017 7:21 p.m. PST

Hafen, there's no limits to where these guys and gals may end up but the period is 20's 30's…first stages of the campaign are set in New York and then off to the jungle (possibly Northern China)

Hafen von Schlockenberg Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member21 Feb 2017 7:26 p.m. PST

Lots more music to explore, then!

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