Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Game Like Trane

I'll preface this by saying, I'm no musical scholar.  I don't know anything about chord progressions, or key changes, or anything like that.  So if I'm dead wrong, just go with the feeling of what I'm writing.

Which is pretty much what I'm writing about, come to think about it.  There are some songs/albums/bands that I listen to because I love every note, every bit of the music.  Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, for instance, I know it inside and out.  I can sing along with the guitar lines, I know every beat from the drum, a part of me thinks that I own that music, I know it so well.  Every once in awhile, I'll go into what my better half calls a "Floyd Void", where I listen to nothing but Pink Floyd albums, and I'll devour their studio albums, I'll chase down ROIOs online, and I will live on Floyd alone.  I can do that because it's something I know.

There is other music I can never own, though.  John Coltrane's Blue Train is a great example of this.  I was listening to it on my way into work today, and it struck me that I listen to it differently than I do Pink Floyd.  I love it just as much, but I can never own it the way I do DSOTM.  With DSOTM, I wait for the next familiar beat so I can belt out the refrain in time with the album.  I don't sing along with Blue Trane.  I inhale Pink Floyd, I let Blue Trane wash over me. 

Play the opening to Blue Train for just about anyone, and they'll swear they've heard it before.  It's just one of those instantly recognizeable tunes that everyone's heard, either intentionally or in the background.  But that's not the song.  The real song kicks in once Coltrane is set loose, and while every take of the song is different, it still hangs on that opening tune. 

That's how I want to game.  I don't want to game like Dark Side of the Moon.  Yes, every song is a masterpiece, and there are times where that's all I want to listen to, I want to game like Trane - I want the game to wash over me, with familiar bits that spin off into majestic lunacy that keeps me on the edge of my seat, wondering what is coming next.  I don't want the Hero's Journey, I want cliffs and valleys, I want hairpin turns and vast chasms to be leapt. 

I want my games to be fresh and new every time I play them, with just enough familiarity to keep things going.

D&D might be my DSOTM.  I love it, but I'm not sure if I can stop singing other peoples' refrains.  I've been in a D&D void for awhile, my thoughts consumed by dwarves and elves, but I feel the need to stretch my legs a bit.  Maybe something new.

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