We are all used to the idea of listening to classical music to reduce our stress levels, or helping to inspire us when we are working or studying. But using classical music to add to the grit and excitement of a thriller? Squid Game is the biggest hit on Netflix for its gory, blaze and shock. Classical music is used to lend to the story buildup of Squid Game. The high profile Korean drama also has its own original composition that has kept audiences over the world on the edge of their seats.
What is Squid Game about?
Squid Game is currently the most popular show running on Netflix. The immensely popular Hwang Dong-Hyuk nine-part series keeps millions covering their eyes with the gore and blood suffered by players in the game.
Squid game is about a group of down-on-their-luck individuals tempted into a series of fatal games on a remote island off the coast of South Korea, Most of the players are millions of Won in debt and they are lined up for a truly life-changing experience - the opportunity to win an unimaginable large sum of prize money by winning the games.
The plus is, the prize money can only increase as each player gets eliminated. But the players soon found that elimination is equal to losing their lives. But the lure of the billions of dollars keep them playing and in turn keep the audience gripped.
Who Composed the Music for Squid Game?
The music director behind the series is composer Jung Jae-il. Jung is a multi-instrumentalist and composer. He is most well-known for composing Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar winning movie “Parasite”. He also worked with Bong on the film “Okja” and Haemoo. Haemoo was produced by Bong.
Original Composition for Squid Game
Jung Jae-il’s original main theme for Squid Game, titled “Way Back Then” is notable for its bare texture, using only recorder and percussion at the start of the piece. The full track later incorporates further instruments that join in as the piece crescendos to a unison melody. The main theme is one of the first sounds heard by audiences as it introduces the show.
Classical Music Used in Squid Game
Jung also picked familiar classical music for Squid Game, as the faceless game makers think classical music can calm the nerves of the contestants. Although the music has a different effect to the audiences as they watched the dwindling, insomniac and bloodied contestants wake up to the third movement of Haydn’s “Trumpet Concerto”.
Johann Strauss II’s “The Blue Danube” is used when details of each new game is revealed. It can also be heard in the VIP lounge and round the famous topsy-turvy staircases after the end of the games. The piece is also used extensively on for a dining scene in the penultimate episode.
There are many fatalities in Squid Game where almost half of the players are killed in the first episode. Using “The Blue Danube” as an underscore for events before and after the games alludes to the idea that the game makers are trying to lift the spirits of the players. Much as Strauss was commissioned to write the piece for the Vienna Men’s Choral Society in 1866 in order to lift the spirits of the people of Vienna, due to Prussia’s win in the Austrian-Prussian war, that same year.
Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings in C Major” marks the end of the second game. It is also used in the forming of teams for the third game.
Music has inspired cinematic works and used to build up or calm the audience, to prepare them for another peak in the story. Try out Ritmo Music Studio’s percussion cover of “Way Back Then” with this video.