How Red Dead Redemption 2's soundtrack is inspired by Ennio Morricone

26 October 2018, 09:27 | Updated: 26 October 2018, 11:29

Red Dead Redemption 2 Official Soundtrack - Prologue Fight Theme | HD (With Visualizer)

By Elizabeth Davis

The music of Red Dead Redemption draws on the music of Ennio Morricone and the soundworld he created in films like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and A Fistful of Dollars. And Woody Jackson has drawn on Morricone’s work to create the monumental score for Red Dead Redemption 2.

Red Dead Redemption 2 opens with a convoy of covered wagons struggling through a snowy scene.

Red Dead Redemption 2: the music, the artists and how to buy the soundtrack

The wagons, the Stetsons, the unshaved men – there’s no mistaking where we are. But in case there were – Jackson’s music is here to help.

The sountrack opens with a solo electric violin, playing a mournful melody. But this violin has seen better days – Jackson manages to suggest that, like the characters of the game, this instrument has been at the mercy of the harsh environment of the West.

Later on there's shimmering percussion, walking bass lines that echo the slow saunter of the horses across the plains – and of course plenty of catchy tunes.

Compare that with this music, written by Ennio Morricone for For a Few Dollars More.

For A Few Dollars More - The Danish National Symphony Orchestra (Live)

Morricone became a household name after writing the music for Sergio Leone’s ‘spaghetti Westerns’, including The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and For a Few Dollars More. He pretty much invented the sound that we associate with the US frontier.

Jackson's music is staking a claim in what was once firmly Hollywood ground. But this game has taken longer to develop (seven years!) than most Hollywood films. So it's only fitting it has a score to match.

In the first Red Dead Redemption, Jackson and Bill Elms (who co-wrote the score for the first game), even gave a knowing nod to the iconic ‘whistle’ from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in the opening track, Born into Trouble.

Full Red Dead Redemption soundtrack

Here’s Morricone’s original for comparison.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Theme • Ennio Morricone

Red Dead Redemption 2 has over 100 hours of game play, for which Woody Jackson has written over 190 different pieces. And woven through are little knowing nods and tributes to the soundworld of the West, as created by Morricone in the 1960s.