Resonance: Secunda [Revisited]

Despite all the games that I simply must finish (ahem *Metroid Dread* ahem), I’ve found myself back in the world of Skyrim. It’s a game that just calls, usually in moments of gaming stress (ahem *Metroid Dread* ahem), as something of a remedy. Indeed, it is, and it’s excellent soundtrack goes a long way in bringing about calm. As such, here’s a post I wrote a few years back upon a different visit to Skyrim, in which I reflected on the chillest of chill musical themes, “Secunda.”

The following post originally appeared on Virtual Bastion, July 27, 2017.

For no terribly good reason, I recently took a new trip through The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I played through the game only once when it was new(ish), and at the time, the experience didn’t leave much of a lasting impact. I couldn’t say what exactly brought on the inkling to pick up the game again a few weeks back, but I’m glad I did. With Skyrim, it’s common to hear from players that they wish they could wipe their memories of it and play it again as if it was new. I started playing through the main story, but then veered off into a long side quest involving the Dark Brotherhood. And I get it. Though familiar with the Skyrim universe, that part of the game was completely new to me, and it was incredibly enjoyable. Now that my Wood Elf has become a full-fledged member of the Dark Brotherhood, I feel quite sated.

This return to Skyrim prompted another new “discovery,” that of the game’s soundtrack. I’ve said before that I’m bad a paying attention to game’s soundtracks, and the first time I played Skyrim, it was no exception. Outside of its main theme, I couldn’t distinguish it from any other orchestral soundtrack. But this time around was different. As I explored spots of Skyrim’s world that I had never traveled to before (in order to become the world’s greatest assassin!), I took careful note of what was playing in the background. And I loved what I heard. I almost can’t believe that I overlooked such a brilliant compilation of music so many years ago. But the past is the past, and now, well…I’ve found myself listening to Skyrim’s soundtrack practically on repeat. Every time I do, I find a new song or a new sound or a new tidbit of music that thrills. But of all the sounds on the game’s soundtrack, one song has quietly risen to the top of the pack. It’s called simply “Secunda.”

Skyrim’s soundtrack is massive, with over fifty songs that range from loud and brash to sullen and ambient. “Secunda” falls squarely on the introspective end of that spectrum. I often heard it when I was out in the wilds, traveling from town to town. Whenever “Secunda” played, it imbued the scene with an otherworldly, almost transcendent feeling. The song became especially transportive during journeys around snow-capped mountains. There’s a sense of loneliness in the song’s simple piano melody that translates into your characters story as a lone adventurer, save for your occasional companion. “Secunda” is a song that both draws one in to listen and sets itself apart from the game’s more intense themes. It ably soothes as much as it lulls one into the calm before the storm.

As I written about here before, I’ve recently developed a propensity of quieter music, and I particularly enjoy seeking it out in games. If there’s one thing that Bethesda is good at, besides crafting intriguingly narrative game stories, it’s bringing their game world to life through atmospheric and original music. Skyrim marks only one high point. And what a wonderful high point it is.

For more on the music of  The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, check out Hatm0nster’s post Resonance: Far Horizons.

Lede image by Flickr user Jit (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)