Author Identifiers

Casey Nicole Atkinson

ORCID: 0000-0002-0879-2888

Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music Honours

School

Western Ausralian Academy of Performing Arts

First Advisor

Michael Terren

Second Advisor

Lindsay Vickery

Abstract

Silent Hill 2 (2001) is a psychological-survival horror game for the Sony Playstation 2 console, described as one of the greatest video games of all time. The game, as well as the original soundtrack by Akira Yamaoka, continue to have an active and dedicated cult following, with the soundtrack garnering millions of plays across streaming platforms. In particular, the ambient pieces in the soundtrack are very popular, colloquially described altogether as Silent Chill. Despite its popularity, few have systematically described the soundtrack’s unique characteristics or its ongoing influence and relevance to soundtrack composition today. It is suggested that timbral analysis can clarify some aspects of its mysterious appeal. A timbral-analytical framework adapting Lavengood’s (2017) spectrogram-based method and Blake’s (2012) culturally informed method is proposed and undertaken. The analyses find that the Silent Chill pieces are characterised by predominantly ‘dark’ timbres, inharmonicity, beating harmonics, and a spectral and auditory fullness due to overlapping and clashing frequencies between instruments. This framework, despite some limitations which are discussed, is found to be comprehensive and adequate for the timbral analysis of pieces in the style of Silent Chill, and can be adapted for other styles of soundtrack and ambient composition.

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