Post-apocalyptic Music (ideas anyone?)

I'm not sure what got me thinking about it, but this morning I was wondering what musical genre (or even just song) really defines post-apocalyptic cinema.  In the 1980s, when post-apocalyptic was synonymous with "bitchin' nuclear mutant party", New Wave was king.  It seemed like every apocalypse movie had some Devo knock-off (hell, or sometimes even Devo) on the soundtrack.  As a HUGE New Wave fan (and "heavy" New Wave musician in Volumen) really enjoyed that, but it didn't feel authentic to me.  I mean, something tells me the end of the world (despite everything REM has told us) isn't going to be fun.

So... if not New Wave, then what?  Maybe  late 80s/early 90s industrial?  There's definitely something bleak and dark about industrial music.  Or.. maybe that's because I'm not a huge fan.  I could just never get into Skinny Puppy and Einsturzende Neubauten.  Although, it's been a long time, so I should give it another shot, I guess.  (NOTE: for some reason, I like to "discover" music after everyone else has moved on.  I never like it at the "right" time.)  The musical aesthetic of Industrial definitely fits... hmm... even the goofy fashion aspect of early 90s industrial makes sense.  We might be onto something here, but where are we going to get all the sequencers, drum machines and whatnot?

Hmm.. with that in mind, maybe the apocalypse would be better scored with Pierre Schaeffer's Musique concrète?  That makes sense in many ways.  I mean, I guess we aren't going to have a whole lot of instruments to work with.  Hell, we'll be lucky if we have anything to record our jams onto.  I'm assuming that computers and hard drives will be fried from all the magnetic energy of the nuclear explosion (err... something like that anyway).  Back to analog, I guess.  I probably should go bury a reel-to-reel in my backyard, just to be safe.

Oh crap, I just followed this thread a little further and realized what we're probably going to be dealing with, musically, in the post-apocalyptic age.  I'll help you visualize it.  A bunch of dirty dudes in tattered filthy clothing, coming together around the bonfire to celebrate and connect with music.  They don't have guitars, keytars or saxophones, but they do have empty trash cans, buckets, rocks and sticks.  So, they just let it all hang out and really get their jam on.  What does that sound like to you?  Yup, you guessed it.  Freaking drum circles.  Draaaaag.  Make sure and hide some hacky sacks in your post-apocalypse cache.

12 thoughts on “Post-apocalyptic Music (ideas anyone?)”

  1. Well, ‘Its the end of the world as we know it” has always been a go to song but a genre? Thats a hard one, while always in movies there is grunge metal or soft quiet melodies playing depending on the type of story being told, the theme music of Terminator 2 comes to mind and the Mad Max themes as well as the music of the End. Nothing with words, the people are all gone, just instruments playing and with a lonely sad note to it. So I guess its modern classics that do it for me.

  2. You need to find the tracks, ‘Sonnet 2 – Back in Ages Past’ and ‘The Beginning of the End’ by the Crash Test Dummies from the CD, ‘Songs of the Unforgiven.’ You can thank me later

  3. I think there’s a lot to be said for various shades of post-rock/ambient electronic as the soundtrack to the (post-)apocalypse. The one I remember most was Godspeed! You Black Emperor soundtracking 28 Days Later, but anything off their “Lift yr skinny fists” album would do. And there’s tons of more recent stuff like Saxon Shore, Joy Wants Eternity, Efterklang, Eluvium, Ef, pg.lost, etc. which is pretty appropriate.
    .-= lostmoya´s last blog ..Copenhagen: the fifth story | Findhorn Foundation =-.

  4. I’m going to have to agree with lostmoya above me. GYBE has to be one of the most epic sounding bands ever. I should say that it’s not for everyone though, but if you’re a fan of music, and can stand instrumental, this music is built on beautiful layers and crescendos. They have gone on to influence many bands, no doubt.

    This is the first track of their first release. Keep in mind that it’s pretty mellow compared to a lot of their other stuff, but you really get a sense of desolation. Not only from the instruments, but from the spoken word.

  5. Really, post-apocalyptic music would be some mish-mash of cultural output. If we are talking a place with no electricity, maybe an old hand-cranked Victrola playing 78s of jazz, gospel, classical, and blue grass. Imagine a new, post-civilization cult holding Caruso and Gershwin 78s as holy music.

  6. When I think “Post-Apoc Soundtrack” one artist pops into my mind…. Rob Zombie! If you think about it, the soundtrack would not be a literal depiction of the “way things are” in a post-apocalyptic world like the fact that electricity is non existent therefore past music would have no way of being played, no a “soundtrack” ((to me anyhow)) tells a storu of the events happening in the world and sets the tone and pace for what that environment would be like… That being said, I see Post-apoc world as a place in utter chaos, no rules, no one to enforce right and wrong. Life would be fast paced, do or die, fight to survive, kill or be killed and when I think of that, Rob Zombie with tracks like “Living dead girl” (off American made music to strip by not hellbilly delux) and “More human than human” a pace is set of utter anarchy.

  7. Odin 310, did you write that music? If so then you should get a job making music for video games (MMOs especially) and/or movies. Nice work!

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