The Western film is not the sole expression of the Western genre. While it often captures the majority of mainstream public attention – given its ability to visually share the Western landscape and dramatic characterizations of Western stories – it remains within a continuum of art forms for the genre. Western films follow Western art, literature, dime novels, plays and “Wild West” shows that originated in the 19th century. Beginning with The Great Train Robbery (1903), Western film precedes the later genre expressions of radio, television and video games.
Western music and folk songs also date back to the 19th century and it is within the wide-ranging art form of music that many interesting expressions of the genre can occur. The Western video game Red Dead Redemption, released in 2010 by Rockstar Games, has been critically acclaimed by the gaming industry and this writer believes it to be one of the most important, if not the most important Western, within the last generation – it has drawn a new and younger demographic into engagement with the Western genre.
In addition to the praise Red Dead Redemption has received for its narrative and game play, the official soundtrack has also been well-received. Coupled with winning Game of the Year at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, Red Dead Redemption also won Best Song in a Game for “Far Away” by José González.
The effective use of music, voice dialogue and sound effects in the game has stimulated artistic interpretation. The following track, entitled “Austin 1911” and posted on YouTube, is a recently-emerged musical reconstruction of some of the music, vocal samples and sounds found in Red Dead Redemption. Remixed by an artist named Pogo, it is an inspired composition.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)