We've all seen them - the "hard at work" scenes in a story, when the character studies furiously over their textbooks in the library, or the machines send their mechanical hardware down the assembly line. These are always accompanied by the cool, intense but nebulous songs that drive home the message of focus and productivity.
At a recent meeting here at Marmoset HQ, we discussed songs that created a cerebral feel, something that is dynamic, interesting and intelligent without being too commanding or distracting - or, in other words, music that would fit perfectly along with scenes described above.
To help illustrate these moments (and and maybe encourage some real life ones of your own) we bring you five songs that capture the cerebral, intelligent, mechanical feel for your story.
Whimsical and ethereal to its core, "Euro Gyro" by Get Better features a smattering of electronic elements, with a firm grounding of synthesizer and billowing keyboard blending to make a twinkly, relaxed mix that brings to mind gentle oceans or waves. Though the arc remains steady throughout its two-and-a-half minutes, the flourishes of bright notes and repetitive beats creates an engaging feeling of wonder and curiosity without being overly distracting.
"Rent Party Revolution" is beat-driven above everything else. In this track by hip-hop composer Taco Neck, a steady rhythm and constant shaker lead out front and center through dantier moments of chimes, short shimmers of synth and a low constant shake to the beat that creates a hypnotic effect that lulls you gently into its simple patterns.
This track by Beautiful Eulogy captures a sense of calm with a confident ease, mixing human and mechanical elements in one. Bright, wobbly waves of chimes kick off the track, quickly joined by a glitchy, groovy drum machine beat that strolls along easily in the background. Light “oh’s” float in around 0:54, adding an organic element to the colder pace of the beat. As the track moves along, a steady wall of synth falls subtly in, further filling out the floating, mechanical sound. For a track that starts off so delicately, “The Size of Grace” develops a steady intensity that inspires concentration.
Though judging by the name might make it sound like this would be one of the more atmospheric tracks on the list, “Sailing with the Breeze” features a mechanical drumline beat and bold piano that keeps things nice and grounded amidst the hazy sounds of flowing water and whirls of ambient synthesizer. This track might be a little more commanding than the others too, with dynamic, reverberated snare hits and an exciting flare of piano notes, but these added bits weaves perfectly in with the mellow overall vibe of the song, making for an enticing float through cerebral waters.
Though many of the songs on this list fall under the “electronic” category, that doesn’t mean that cerebral songs must all be synth and beat-focused. Cars & Trains’ track “Ten Thousand Ships” proves this with it’s acoustic guitar-driven melody, punctuated by occasionally intense bursts of synth, short plucks of strings, and a drum machine that switches the direction up every once in awhile. Post rock-style of electric guitars enter the track around 3:49, adding a bit of edge to the smooth, steady melody that creates an interesting variety in this otherwise delicate track.