Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I started playing the piano when I was 3, got dragged to church choir with my parents every week for years, and took guitar and vocal lessons in middle and high school, so I guess it’s fair to say that music is practically in my blood. It stands to reason then that music is one of the biggest factors in my enjoyment of video games. I wouldn’t have played hundreds of hours of Chrono Trigger, Warcraft 2, Diablo 3, etc. if they hadn’t had phenomenal soundtracks.
But today while I was searching for any news on The Elder Scrolls VI (looks like Bethesda is waiting until at least E3), I decided I want to write about the game that I think may have the most astounding soundtrack of all: Skyrim. It’s a fantastic game in terms of gameplay and atmosphere, but it’s the music that really takes it to another level. Below in reverse order are my top 10 tracks, and man, it was surprisingly hard to narrow them down that far.
This slot was tough. I thought about Sovngarde and The Bannered Mare but Secunda is just more memorable for me. The piano melody evokes a sense of mystery, similar to some of the music you hear while searching for the lost seals in Assassin’s Creed 2. It always reminds me of exploring the giant luminescent cavern of Blackreach.
#9: Ancient Stones
Ancient Stones really does provide the feeling of encountering ruins and cities older than you can possibly imagine. This easily could have played in Lord of the Rings when the Fellowship rode through the Argonath.
#8: Wind Guide You
This track takes a while to build, but once it does the crescendo of voices and orchestra is epic. And once it comes back down, the singular cello is so poignant and wistful I couldn’t possibly leave it off the list.
#7: Unbroken Road
This one always makes me visualize climbing a mountain towards the completion of a great quest.
#6: From Past to Present
From Past to Present is the quintessential exploration music from Skyrim. It makes you feel a little lonely but also like you’re seeing wonders that are for your eyes only.
#5: Watch The Skies
Now we’re in the top 5! This track is for when a dragon has shown up and shit just got real, son. Hard to come up with another song from the game that makes you feel like more of an ultimate bad ass.
#4: Far Horizons
This is one of those pieces that kinda makes you stop whatever you’re doing in the game, maybe on top of some remote mountain, and just look into the distance as the sun sets and the sky turns red.
#3: Death or Sovngarde
One of my all time favorites which I get to keep hearing on a regular basis because Critical Role uses it as background battle music. I still get chills around the 90 second mark when the trumpet comes in – just glorious.
#2: Dragonborn (Skyrim Theme)
Any list without the main theme of the game would be a joke. Taking the unofficial Elder Scrolls theme and turning it into a heroic ballad was a stroke of genius. And the YouTube comments with “alternate lyrics” are absolutely hilarious. (2:08 poops a sword, praise the lord, fucking fool, oh my god, me gusta those potatoes are gooooooooooood!)
#1: The Streets of Whiterun
Nothing brings back the nostalgia for playing Skyrim like this song. I would have walked in to get married to The Streets of Whiterun if my wife had allowed it. When I hear this track I simultaneously feel like I’ve come home and like things will never ever be the same again. Any time I sit in front of a piano I have the urge to play it, and if my sister ever learns to play the cello (ahem… Christmas money 2013) I guarantee we’ll record a cover.
What’s your favorite music from Skyrim? What other games have your favorite soundtracks? Let me know!
Image credits: Bethesda (Elder Scrolls V)