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We all have our favorite videogame soundtracks that move us in indescribable ways. The ones that make your skin shivers and your head all numb from the head-knocking. Out of all the classical themes of Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger and the chip-tuned rock anthems of Mega Man and Castlevania I have an unconditional love for a very particular soundtrack of a genre that is shamefully misrepresented in videogame music.
Realised in part by Jerry Martin, the SimCity 3000 soundtrack is one of my favorite jazz-flavored scores of all time. Combining both Jazz and New Age, it gives a strong urban vibe to the king of city management games and is a delight to the ears. Let’s dig in deeper beyond that suburbian transmission signal and see why I fell in love with Jazz because of SimCity.
Ten years ago I bought one of my favorite games of all time. I still play SimCity 3000 Unlimited every now and then like any other classics in my collection. Creating huge metropolis, challenging myself with weird urban designs and landscapes, I’ve always been fascinated by Will Wright’s series from the very beginning. One of the best aspects of the game however is the music, vilely infused with pure post Hard-Bop era smooth-jazz and some cool New Age Electronica.
It took me a long time however to finally realize that I had this secret love for Jazz. Prior to two or three years ago I had no idea who John Coltrane or Miles Davis were yet at the same time I knew these songs and rhymns. I was familiar with the specific era of which I am now a huge devoted fan.
SimCity introduced me with it’s relaxed beats and sharp notes to one of the most prolific Jazz eras in the history of music. The Hard-Bop, Smooth-Jazz; Free-Jazz era of the 1950s and early 1970s were ground breaking years for the advancement of Jazz music. It was one of the most creative periods and spawned countless sessions and improvisations now revered for their masterful execution. This musical sophistication is greatly reflected in the SimCity 3000 soundtrack and in my opinion represents perfectly the vibe of this era.
However , how does it make it so great? I mean it’s just music right? Well not necessarily. The musical score of the game reflects a very strong urban feeling during the gameplay. Rather than having a modern type of musical representation (namely Hip-Hop), the composers decided that a classical rendition would provide a more accurate feel to the simulation. Cities like New York and Chicago have been built on Jazz and it’s culture. To put it simple, the soundtrack just feels right, it’s spot on on the vibe it wants to vehiculate and at the same time broadcasts a cultural milestone in modern urbanism.
The cherry of top is that most of the tracks on the retail release are available free here on EA’s website. If you like the soundtrack I could also direct you to some similar artists that greatly influenced the album such as: John Coltrane, Miles Davis (earlier work), Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley, Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock and Dexter Gordon.
Jazz is worth being discovered by any genuine music lovers and one of the best ways to be introduced to the genre is to play SimCity 3000 like I did and taste this raw form of musical expression. A mix between urban lifestyles and designs boasted with an outstanding soundtrack, this is how SimCity made me fall in love with Jazz music.