Music is often the unnoticed soundtrack of our lives. We shower to music, drive to music, and hear it almost constantly underscoring movies and television, giving us cues to enhance feelings. Colleges teach composers full semesters worth of information on how to best evoke certain feeling when writing music. When choosing music to accompany something, that matters, too. Imagine trying to work out aggressively to elevator music or meditate to screamo – those sounds don’t fit the mood of either of those activities. That can throw off an entire experience.
The sounds of my dungeon are pants, screams, whip cracks. I have heard these sounds echo into a silent playspace, and it always feels a little off. Music is an accepted accompaniment to these events. There were times when it was common to hear Enigma, and other when heavy metal was constant. Regardless of their content, playlists are arguably an essential part of setting the mood at any dungeon or playspace.
Having come back to our dungeon after a long absence, I see opportunity for us, and for the community as a whole. Sure, we can pull up those old playlists back in, but I think as times change, as communities change composition, we need things like our music to flow with them. Other than in some some group chats here and there, I don’t often see discussion of the importance of inclusivity when building those playlists. When planning music for a larger group of people, I have spent time doing my best to build a list that embraces our whole community.
For those who desire to do that within their own communities, I suggest beginning by reaching out to local members. Ask around – what are their favorite songs for their play-at-home or private play playlists? Are there certain groups of people who don’t attend, or are less represented? Reach out and ask for suggestions specifically from them. Yes, it’s even possible to include music for littles, if you don’t limit yourself to original versions of songs. My final playlist includes a heavy metal cover of Let it Go that thrilled every little in the room, and plenty who weren’t.
When building the list out of a variety of genres, it can be a challenge to put songs in an order that doesn’t sound odd. My approach has been to first listen to every song and get a feel for the tempo and vibe, even if I don’t listen to it in its entirety. Some get cut if they just don’t quite “feel” right with the list. Some I liked but didn’t quite like the feel. Those got searched on youtube until I found remixes or covers that worked with the overall feel we were going for in the dungeon. Others sparked ideas for additions. I put all of the titles that made the cut into an excel spreadsheet and categorized them based on how fast or slow they were and what genre, like – slow techno, fast hard rock, mid tempo r&b, etc.
At that point, I decided on how long I wanted my “flow blocks” to be. Some people want a flow of songs to be three songs, or five songs. I chose nine. I picked the slowest tempo songs from my final cut and placed them directly in the middle of each group of nine that was blocked out on my spreadsheet. I then found the fastest tempo songs and put those on the outside edges of each group. I took the remaining songs and used them as transitions between fast and slow, and chose things that moved well from one to the next. At times I cut entire chunks together and moved them to other flow blocks.
I don’t ever quite see it as finished. I suspect it will be changed and adapted many times. New suggestions will come in and either be rejected or incorporated. Older picks may prove unpopular or just get old and be moved off of the list. I think the most important thing is that my community knows our dungeon is doing its best to give everyone music that makes them feel welcome and comfortable and down for whatever their kink may be.