the plaintive vibrato of economically depressed Americana
March 12, 2019 1:57 PM   Subscribe

I love the opening theme music to Making a Murderer. Help me find more music like it.

What I love about this is that it's got a doleful, tragic-things-happen here vibe to it but also, for me, evokes specifically American images of hardship. It's the music that would play in a documentary about the Dust Bowl, for instance, over establishing shots of sharecroppers traveling west. I dig it.

I don't know enough about music to say what it is (is it D minor? I don't know! I've read that D minor is the sad sound) but I would contrast this with the score from Dances with Wolves. Dances with Wolves for me absolutely has that this-is-what-the-sweeping-landscapes-of-plains-America-sound-like kind of vibe but it's specifically hopeful sounding, too. I don't want hopeful. I want the woebegone chords of misfortune.

Also: instrumental only please. Thank you!
posted by phunniemee to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You might like parts of the Bastion soundtrack. There are parts with lyrics and parts that are more upbeat and repetitive (like you'd expect with a video game soundtrack) but there are some that sound similar to your example to my ear. And it's been a while, but maybe some songs from the soundtrack of Deadwood would work for this, too.
posted by msbrauer at 2:37 PM on March 12, 2019

Appalachian Journey has some of this. In particular, Misty Moonlight Waltz and Benjamin.
posted by basalganglia at 3:07 PM on March 12, 2019

reminds this listener of the theme music of deadwood (composer, david schwartz), too, as well as rome and carnivale (both: jeff beal, who also did house of cards, though i forgot about that one).
think some of mick harvey's -- who you'll recall as a bad seed -- soundtrack work, such as, say, on deliver us from evil with joseph arthur, might fall into the dustbowl gothicgrass sound.
posted by 20 year lurk at 3:41 PM on March 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Maybe Tuxedomoon – The Ghost Sonata
posted by farlukar at 4:12 PM on March 12, 2019

The music you linked to sort of brings to my mind the musical backing to the podcast S-town by Daniel Hart. A few of the tracks have a hopeful cast and it's perhaps a bit less rough/more complex, but perhaps you'd like it, too.
posted by reren at 4:13 PM on March 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

There was a band Tracker who did some albums a while back, and collaborated with the graphic novelist who did Blankets. It was kind of an odd project, but lots of it fits what you’re looking for. Here’s a track. A couple tracks have some vocals, but not many.

If you can be pulled away from the “no vocals” rule, Gillian Welch’s album Revelator sits dead center of this box, except for maybe one or two tracks on the album.
posted by furnace.heart at 4:30 PM on March 12, 2019

The soundtrack from Meek's Cutoff might scratch that itch.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:58 PM on March 12, 2019

It reminds me of "Lux Aeterna" from the soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream, composed by Clint Mansell. Starts off slow and gradually increases in intensity, heavy on strings, feelings of hopelessness and spiraling despair.

Another sad instrumental take on Americana that I find really moving is "Ashokan Farewell" from the soundtrack to the Civil War documentary, composed by Jay Ungar.
posted by Pfardentrott at 4:59 PM on March 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

a taste of le trio joubran, though not so much americana
posted by 20 year lurk at 5:05 PM on March 12, 2019

John Hartford - I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow (Instrumental)

Featured in the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, but despite the name it's totally different from the more upbeat singalong version with Clooney et al. Gives me Ken Burns slow-panning-over-Civil-War-images vibe.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:57 PM on March 12, 2019

We always used to joke that intro was by the Finnish metal band Apocalyptica. It's partly because cellos just have a really distinctive sound, but a lot of their original instrumental stuff does sound very similar:
Beyond Time
posted by gueneverey at 5:42 AM on March 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

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