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Inside / Playdead
Inside / Playdead

A Video Game Composer Used a Human Skull to Create a Soundtrack

Inside / Playdead
Inside / Playdead

Since its initial release this summer, a video game called Inside has been getting a lot of buzz. The eerie puzzle-based game by Playdead follows a young boy in a red shirt exploring an eerie, mostly monochromatic world filled with animals, nameless creatures, lifeless-but-mobile bodies. The player must thwart authorities, avoid danger, and move through the dreary world undetected. Inside is mostly silent, with the exception of some heavy breathing, echoes, and well-placed, surreal music. The score is about as hair-raising as the game itself and with good reason: It was all filtered through a human skull.

Composer and sound designer Martin Stig Andersen is responsible for the creepy tunes. After acquiring an actual human skull, he filtered the soundtrack through it to create some music that was initially "quite bad." After some tinkering, the audio designer was able to create the perfect ambient music to properly match the tone of the video game.

"Early on, as we were working on Inside, I had the idea of working with a human skull because I think it's very interesting how the sound of your own voice sounds very different in your own head," Andersen told Gamasutra. "People are often shocked when they hear themselves recorded, because things sound totally different inside your head. Things sound much softer in there, more full, in a way. This is because a large part of what you hear is your voice resonating inside your body, in your jawbone for example."

While playing creepy music with the help of an actual skull might seem a little on-the-nose, you can't argue with the results. The music captures the essence of the game perfectly.

"I think because of the game's aesthetics, I kind of felt it should be associated with '80s B-movie soundtracks—cheap yet cool soundtracks," Andersen told Gamasutra.

[h/t Engadget]

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Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
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Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.

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